Chapter 1 Introduction
Exercise is the closest thing to a “fountain of youth” that we know of so far. Almost every day a new scientific study is published indicating the benefits of exercise that include:
1. Improving or maintaining functional ability.
2. Improving balance.
3. Preventing falls.
4. Improving mood, decreasing depression.
5. Improving body composition (less fat, more muscle, and denser bone).
6. Improving ability to deal with physical and mental stress.
7. Improving sleep quality (which in turn improves mood, cognition, eating habits, immune function).
8. Improving cognition and preventing or delaying the onset of dementia.
9. Improving sexual function.
As a physical therapist, I put a huge value on the first item on the list above: Maintaining or improving function for myself and my patients. Exercise that works muscles and burns calories, but does not improve or maintain functional ability is WAY less interesting and important than exercise that is functionally meaningful. Unfortunately, many exercises that I see recommended for elders are totally non-functional. One of the most important abilities to maintain or develop is standing up from a chair, toilet or bed. Over the course of my career working with patients in the hospital right after surgery or illness and when they get home, I have worked with scores if not hundreds of people who were not able to toilet themselves without help. Very often these people needed help not to walk or wipe themselves, but needed help STANDING UP FROM A CHAIR.
Unless I am crushed by a giant asteroid or run over by a truck, there will likely come a day when I am unable to toilet myself. Given my experience, I know that is most likely to be because I am unable to stand up from a chair, bed or toilet seat (usually the lowest seat in the home). I would like to “kick” that day “as far down the street” into the future as possible. I bet you would like to do that too. Developing surplus strength, flexibility and skill in sit↔stand is a surefire way to keep that day from coming prematurely.
Who is this book for?
1. People who have very limited time to exercise.
2. People who have trouble staying motivated to exercise.
3. People who have trouble exercising safely on their own due to balance issue or other limitations.
4. People who are having trouble getting up and down from a chair, couch, car seat or toilet.
5. People who are losing strength and balance and want to stop and reverse this loss.
6. Family members of non-exercisers hoping to influence their loved one to do something to slow down or stop functional decline.
7. Physicians, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and fitness professionals looking to improve their ability to get their patients to do a key functionally relevant exercise.
This book will help you to use this one exercise to build strength in the whole body, improve your muscular and cardiovascular endurance, flexibility in key joints & muscle groups and get all the benefits of exercise listed above. I will guide you on improving your “form” and finding ease, comfort and even pleasure in this exercise. I will map out when to do it, how often, how to progress yourself and when to give it a rest. I will show you tricks to make standing up easier if you are having trouble getting up. I will also show you how to make it harder and vary the challenge to keep you progressing when it gets easy. The chapter on the pelvis and how to move it for maximum efficiency will help improve posture, build core strength and awareness and decrease pain while further improving your ability to do the exercise smoothly and efficiently. The chapter on breathing will help you use the breathing muscles to work with you (rather than against you) when you are doing the exercise. Finally, Chapter 9: Where is the Mind, will turn this exercise into a meditation in movement giving you all the benefits that a meditation practice has been shown to deliver. Along with clear explanations of all the above, you will have photos to illustrate all the information, access to handouts and a log that you can print out and use to remind yourself (or your loved one, patient or client) of the details plus an audio file where I will talk you through the exercise to support your practice and progress.