The worst thing about exercising when you really can’t be arsed is that it’s not really something that you can outsource.
If it were, half the world’s population would be paying the other half to keep them limber and healthy.
Doing exercise is vital if you want to stay flexible and well.
Being flexible, both mentally AND physically, as we age is very important.
A simple test used by doctors and health experts around the world is believed to predict not only the state of a person’s health, but their longevity.
The test is so ridiculously obvious you might think it’s a trick, but it’s not.
Look at this diagram. Can you do it?
This test, known as the Sit-Rising Test, or SRT, is now being used to illustrate the importance of movement as we age. Several factors are given values within the test such as the speed at which a person can rise after sitting (agility), the use of the arms as a stabilizing factor (balance), and the effort required (strength).
As was reported in the online science journal Discovery Magazine, a study published in the European Journal of Cardiology involving more than 2,000 patients who took the SRT aged between 51 and 80 showed some remarkable results.
Based on their research and a follow up study, those people who had scored fewer than eight points on the test, were twice as likely to die within the next six years compared with those who scored higher; those who scored three or fewer points were more than five times as likely to die within the same period compared with those who scored more than eight points.
What is the link between getting yourself up and down off the floor and dying?
The first and most obvious factor is being able to assist yourself in an emergency.
We all know that falling down can be a disaster as we age.
Brittle bones and the length of time our body takes to heal due to reduced calcium and other vital minerals means that we are wounded for longer. The body has to concentrate the energy and resources it has in order to get and stay well. This takes time and the painful truth is, it takes more out of an aging body.
Factor in the reality that a fall taken when alone, or away from immediate help, can prove fatal.
If you are on the floor and you can’t get up, you can’t reach the help you need. A mobile phone is great in the case of an emergency, but not if it has fallen out of reach. In order to prevent further injury due to blood loss, or swelling, someone who has fallen needs to be able to alert another human being.
If no one is around, that fallen someone is going to have to help themselves. Keeping in mind that they are probably shaken, and possibly hurt, not being able to rise is a major problem.
Can they reach water? Can they reach warmth? If someone cannot get themselves up from the ground without the use of their arms when they are perfectly well, how much more difficult will it be when their arms, which may have been damaged, are failing them.
Sure, a back injury means you must stay still, but if you are on the floor for some reason, and there is more danger ahead, traffic, people running, snow, water, fire, you are going to need to move out of harm’s way.
Not only that, the SRT checks up on the big four of human safety. Agility, strength, flexibility and balance.
A strong body, where the muscles are fed and oxygenated, will hold your bones in place. More and more, we are all- women included- encouraged to think about building up muscle strength as we age. We don’t have to look like this….
But looking like this……
Means that we are begging for ligament damage, dislocation and osteoarthritis type issues.
Being agile doesn’t mean you have to be able to jump over fences, only that your limbs and joints can support short bursts of speed.
If an idiot on a bike is careening towards you on the footpath, can you move out of the way? Equally, if a small child with an ice cream is about to hug you, can you deftly, but elegantly, move that ice cream away from your favourite shirt?
Agility is about looking graceful when you escape nasty situations. A bit of dancing is a great way to improve agility.
Flexibility is about not making grunting sounds every time you move from a chair. Look, we all do it. But being flexible, again, protects us from joint and ligament damage, and generally makes us feel better about ourselves. Yoga is an obvious exercise, but Pilates is also magic and, like yoga, combines strength and balance into the mix.
Which brings us to balance. Of all the markers of graceful aging, being able to keep your balance is a sure fire sign that things are well. Balance is controlled not only by muscles, but by our inner ear, our eyesight and our blood pressure. Keeping balance is a biggie because without it, we cannot walk, or in extreme cases even stand or sit, and if you are struggling with balance you need immediate medical assistance and a change of lifestyle.
The SRT tests whether you can balance yourself and your core.
By the very definition of being upright, without balance you are going to fall down.
All this exposed by this one simple test.
So how can you improve all of these issues in a way that doesn’t eat away all of the time we would rather be eating chocolate?
Believe it or not, there is a one-minute workout that improves everything we have talked about here and yes, it really truly works.
Start the timer, here we go.
It looks like this. Keep you back flat.
Try and hold it for 10 seconds, then when you can do that, try 20.
It looks awkward, but yes, you need to imagine yourself backing down onto a low Asian style squat toilet. Stick your butt out. Get back up again.
Start with 5, move up to 10. This hurts the next day. That is why you need it.
Lay on you back, bring your knees up, cycle in and out 20 times.
If you need to, place a folded towel, or even your hands, under the base of your spine for extra support. You are using your stomach muscles, not your back or legs, for the best results.
Literally, that is your workout. 20 seconds of each, and you are done. If it takes you 3 minutes at first, OK. If it takes you 2 every single time, OK.
If you can do it in a minute, you are being kinder to yourself than you know.
If you start to get good at it, add Burpees, the living embodiment of hell on Earth and the best full cardio, strength, balance and agility movement you can imagine. No need to jump around at the start, just try and get up and down 5 times in one minute, then ten.
A burpee looks like this. Do not be fooled. They are hard. They are also amazing for your body.
If you can exercise like this, in the privacy of your home, for a minute or two a day, your score on the SRT will improve and you will live better for longer.
Go on, it’s only one or two minutes out of your day. Give it a go and let us know how it worked out in the comments section. Good luck !!