Saturday, December 10, 2016

Balance, baby, balance...

"In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth." ~Patti Smith

An oft neglected part of physical fitness is BALANCE. Those who have been to my workout classes know this is something I preach about often. Do you want to resist falling and breaking things as you age? Do you want strong joints via strong ligaments? Balance! In your nervous system are special cells called proprioceptors. These cells tell your ear lobe where it is in relation to your big toe, or your left shoulder in relation to your right thigh. Every moment thousands upon thousands of micro corrections are happening as those neural synapses are firing. This keeps you upright and stable. You need to work these synapses - those you don't use lose ability to rapidly fire. Remember as a child how you balanced on curbs, stood on your head, hopped on one foot? You need to do these things in order to maintain the ability to do them. As you do them, you are maintaining your ability to do things like safely navigate stairs when you are 80. Stand on one foot and see how long you can hold it. Do the other foot. Balance whenever you can. This will workout your proprioception, and it will also strengthen the joints and the tissues that support them. Don't stop there. Do things that require coordination. Brush your teeth with the "wrong" hand. Learn new dance steps. Don't say, "I don't have coordination!" Say, "Wow, I will work on coordination!"

(Once you work on that a bit, start jumping up and down. Be happy. Start small. Hop on one foot, then the other. Work your way up. Don't lose the ability to jump because of age. You never know when you'll need it. I certainly want to be able to leap for joy for a long time!)

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