Saturday, June 6, 2015

Why I Pretend to Walk a Tightrope

I'm not properly serving my readers just by posting pictures of lovely flowers.

Even though I saw the first roses of the year blooming in downtown Binghamton, New York, yesterday, that isn't enough.

I am a midlife blogger, after all, and I want to share important things I've been learning recently with you. 

I am going to start a Friday feature, at least for the month of June, blogging about what I am learning in my falls prevention class.

I am not going to get into the actual exercises, but I want to blog about what I am learning in general, because this is knowledge that needs to be shared.  Not all areas of the world have these kind of classes but we are all at risk of falling one day.

We all face that risk, if we haven't fallen already.  If it isn't us, it is a loved one who has fallen.  A mother. A father. An aunt or uncle.

Quoting from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Website:


"What outcomes are linked to falls? (Citations for these statistics are available on the website)
  • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, and head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • About one-half of fatal falls among older adults are due to TBI.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls....
  • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling."
This very thing (fall with a TBI) happened in my in law's family earlier in March, and they are still dealing with the terrible aftermath right now.

So, what is the number one thing we can do, even in midlife, to help prevent falls when we are older?

EXERCISE.  (There's more to it than that, but exercise is a great start.)

But not just any exercise.  For years, I had been doing water aerobics and walking.  Now, I find it is not enough.  I will not share "how to's" for the actual exercises, as they must be taught by trained people (we were taught by physical therapists) and practiced, and seniors must be sure they can do these safely.  We do these exercises at the beginning of each class before we learn other things.  I will say that four exercises (balance) are done daily, and four exercises (strength) are done three times a week.

Which is why, every day, I now walk a tightrope.

Not a real tightrope-I am not in training to be the next Nik Wallenda.  You will not see me on tightropes across canyons, or skyscrapers.  Nor will you see me trying to break tightrope records at the Wisconsin State Fair.

No, the tightrope walk I do each day is imaginary. Well, the tightrope is.  The walking is real.  Touching a counter lightly, I balance, one foot in front of the other.  Then, facing forward, I walk.   Eventually, I won't wobble and I will be able to walk backwards, too.  Eventually, I may be able to stop touching the counter.  What you won't see is a video of me doing this.  I will say the obvious:  my balance needs a lot of improvement.
Leon Russell, who sings the song in the video, is 73 and still touring.  Fantastic!

I intend to keep improving my balance.  I am also doing strength building exercises.  I also have a bad back to consider in my future exercise plans.

So, what about you, my reader?

I was interested in this video I found on the PBS (Public Broadcasting) website on "How to Walk a Tightrope".  This sounds like a fun family activity.  It's never too early to start your children on a path of good balance.  Or you, if you are younger than I am. (I'm 62).

Starting on Friday, join me for Falling Friday to learn more about what I am learning about fall prevention.  None of what I will share is proprietary information - much of it is already online.  But learning in a classroom setting is better than reading a blog, and I encourage you, if you have fall prevention classes in your area, to encourage your loved senior (or yourself, if you have fallen or are at risk of falling) to seek out an evidence based class.  And, after the class is over, keep exercising and learning.

Tomorrow - another change in my blog.

11 comments:

  1. Interestingly, I just had a bad fall last weekend. Exercise is at the top of my list once I get off these crutches!

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  2. If you are able, I highly recommend a simple yoga class and daily practice. Rodney Yee's AM yoga is a great one (no financial link here - I just use it to keep my back healthy for work and it makes a huge difference.) Anything which strengthens your core helps with balance and will ultimately help prevent falls. Good luck with the class. It is so very important as we get older.

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  3. Hi Alana! This post about falling caught my eye mainly because my husband and I started taking tai chi which is supposed to be an excellent "falling prevention" activity. It doesn't seem like a difficult thing to do but it does exercise your body AND your mind. I strongly recommend it and wrote about it on my own blog. Good luck. ~Kathy

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  4. Remaining active is so important. I spend more time exercising now that I did when I was in my 20's and 30's -- it's just so much fun. Hiking, kayaking, biking are all things I've added to my day. Thanks for your post and for joining in on #MidLifeLuv, we're so glad to have you!
    Kimberly
    http://FiftyJewels.com

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  5. You're so right about how important it is to prevent falls. A family member broke a hip during the last visit to my house and ended up with surgery and 10 days of rehab to get to the point of returning home. It's definitely something you want to avoid!

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  6. I second the yoga comment. I keep meaning to get into it, but never have. Even bought a yoga book called Yoga for Wimps. Meant for beginners like me.

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  7. Never heard of a fall prevention class before. I am only in my 40's and fall alot due to my disabilities. I say i fall with grace.

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  8. Our class instructor talks about this all the time. Then she proceeds to make us do extra squats and other leg exercises...

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  9. I must admit to walking very carefully to avoid a fall. Last time I broke a thumb joint. Even my active 67 yr husband slipped over at a petrol pump a month ago, hitting his head and lying unconscious for ten minutes, all caught on the CCTV and attended by an ambulance. We're sooo lucky that he hasn't suffered brain injury. Just goes to show--stay as active as possible.

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  10. What I remember most about my fall in 07 was the EF doc saying I wouldn't have survived if I had hit my head. Mine was just a freak accident and had nothing to do with balance. I too recommend yoga, but I have found that having a good instructor is a must. Lots of yoga injuries are caused by not doing a pose properly.

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  11. Interesting info. I know my balance is not as good as it used to be, so to improve it I walk like on a balance beam on the sidewalk's curb on my way to school. Reminds me of being a kid again. I guess it is the Swiss interpretation of walking on the tight rope.

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