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7 exercises to Keep Moving & Live Independently with Pilates

One of my lovely clients recently sent me this Youtube video from a webinar on "Practical tips to keep you moving and Living Independently", presented by Trish Lynch - south Eastern Sydney Local Hearth District, Active Ageing. I have embedded her webinar below.

Falls prevention is so important. My dad fell and ended up with a broken hip and in a nursing home. His last fall was the beginning of the end of his life with a hit to his head. No one wants to have their independence taken away and falls prevention is key in keeping independent and living longer.

Lynch's webinar reminded me of why working with balance, lower body strength and ankle mobility and stability is just so important in a Pilates session! Spending time in your Pilates Session working on functional lower body strength and balance will be a valuable investment going forward. So I wanted to share this video with you, and my own thoughts on keeping moving and living independently.

The benefits of exercise that Lynch states are:

  1. Improve your memory and brain function. Lynch states that exercise actually helps our brain work better.

  2. Protect against diseases such as heart, lung, bone, diabetes, cancers

  3. Aid in weight management

  4. Lower blood pressure and improve heart health - makes your heart stronger and able to do its' job better

  5. Improve quality of sleep

  6. Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression - makes you feel happier and a better mood

  7. Combats cancer related fatigue

  8. Improves joint pain and stiffness - the more you build up the muscles around joints, the less the joint is affected with pain by doing other activity

  9. Maintain your muscle strength and balance - less wobbly

  10. Increases your lifespan and therefore your independence

If you can, incorporate some of these exercises at home so you are doing them at least 4 days a week. Lynch states that the Australian Guideline for Physical Activity for people over 65 years is:

  • 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all days.

  • start with 10 minutes once or twice a day

  • after 2 weeks increase to 15 minutes twice a day

For those of you who don't know me, I am Louise Taube, a Pilates Teacher and also Pilates Teacher trainer. I have an Active Ageing course for Pilates Teachers that is recognised with the Pilates Alliance of Australasia with 15 PDP's.

Back to the 7 exercises - The main take aways I got from this webinar in a Pilates context is to integrate exercises of:

  1. Walking

  2. Sit to stand

  3. Tandem stand

  4. Standing on one leg

  5. Tight rope walking

  6. Calf raisers double and single

  7. Toe lifts - ankle dorsiflexion exercises to strengthen Tibias Anterior

To level up these exercises I have devised some Pilates variations and also some suggestions for incorporating them into your daily routine. If you can make these moves part of your daily habits the benefits will be ten fold!

1. Walking

In a Pilates context, I love doing any exercise that is a weight transfer. Such as the standing leg press on the Wunda Chair to weight transfer standing on the pedal. In Lynch's webinar she mentions the importance of dorsiflexion, so adding in exercises that include dorsiflexion are a bonus, such as develope` in the footwork on the Reformer.

woman doing the standing leg press on the Wunda Chair with weight transfer
Standing leg press with weight transfer

But of course, the best exercise you can do for walking is to actually go walking, and focus on the dorsiflexion action at the ankle joint. I love going for long walks on the week-end with my boyfriend. It is so enjoyable and brings us closer to nature and closer to each other, and it is something we both want to continue to do into old age. And remember, exercising with someone else is more fun, more motivating and more likely to happen!

My boyfriend says that many problems are solved by walking, so if you have any troubles to sort, take a stroll! Another added benefit.

a man walking in the country
My boyfriend and I on a walk in the country, I took the photo so I am not in it!

2. Sit to stand

Besides the Bicep curl squats with the arm springs on the Cadillac, the Footwork on the Wunda Chair is a great prep exercise for sit to stand. In fact, any form or squats is great, including squats against the wall with the ball.

a man doing the Bicep curl squats on the Cadillac
Bicep curl squats on the Cadillac

When practicing sit to stand at home, make sure you control the stand to sit phase. Sitting down should be done with control and not just plonking down onto a chair. The work is in the sitting phase - this in the future may prevent bone fracture from landing with a hard plonk down. So whenever you do sit down, do this slowly and with control - sitting on the toilet, sitting down for meals, sitting at your desk, sitting on the couch. No more free falling plonking sitting! One way to really find the control of sitting is to sit as silently as possible. Try it!

A man doing to sit in a chair holding hand weights
Sit to stand with hand weights - but we should have the toes down!

3. Tandem stance

footprints in tandem stance, one foot in front of the other, front heel touching back toe
Tandem Stance

This is fun to do with the standing arm springs once the tandem stance become easy.

Try tandem stand while cleaning your teeth! Harder than it looks! :D

4. Standing on one leg

My go to for standing on one leg are all the standing leg press variations on the Wunda Chair including standing on a wobble board, dura disc, or Makarlu. I also love to include the scooter on the Reformer too.

A woman doing the standing leg press on the Wunda Chair with Pilates teacher Louise Taube
Standing leg press on the Wunda chair

Louise Taube doing the Scooter on the Pilates Reformer
Scooter on the Reformer

We can practice standing on one leg at any time at home. Try standing on one leg while the kettle is boiling when you are making your next cup of tea! Standing on one leg really helps to increase body awareness and knowing where your body is in space.

Louise Taube standing on one leg
Standing on one leg

5. Tight rope walking

footprints of tight rope walking, one foot in front of the other, back toe touches front heel
Tight rope walking - not on a real tight rope, but one foot placed in front of the other

Why not do this adding in some arm movements with a Theraband or hand weights?

At home, find a straight line in a floor board or tile and walk along this line on your way to another room during your day. Make it a little game!

6. Calf raisers double and single

My preference for these is standing on the Wunda Chair pedal: the work against gravity is more beneficial than on the Reformer or Cadillac. Remember to keep the lower of the heels slow and controlled for optimal strength and flexibility of the calves. For single leg calf raisers I find the Wunda Chair pedal too hard under the ball of my foot, so I prefer to do single leg calf raisers with a half foam roller, flat side down - much more comfortable and still gives the full range of movement at the ankle joint, hold onto the wall for this one though. If there is arthritis in the toes then single leg calf raisers may be too strong.

a woman doing calf raisers on the Wunda Chair
Calf raisers on the Wunda Chair

Incorporate calf raisers into your daily routine whenever you encounter a set of stairs or a step. Only do theses at the bottom of the stairs and never the top! You don't want to have a long fall backwards! Remember the work is in the the controlled lower of the heel.

7. Toe lifts (dorsiflexion)

We can work into dorsifexion in the ankle exercise on the Wunda Chair, but this is more about the eccentric control of the gastrocnemius and soles. For Tibialis Anterior strengthening I like to include the abdominal series with the feet hooked under the top rung on the Ladder Barrel or the foot strap on the Reformer. My favourite is the straight back in the abdominal series, especially if someone has osteoporosis or osteopenia, as there will be no compressive force through the vertebrae. We can also hook a band over the top of the foot to pull the toes back too!

a woman doing the ankle exercise on the Wunda Chair looking up and smiling
Ankle exercise on the Wunda Chair

a woman doing the straight back exercise in the abdominal series on the reformer short box
Straight back on the Reformer with feet hooked under foot strap into dorsiflexion

Lift your toes whenever you like! Waiting in line at the shops or for the bus, (you might get some strange looks but who cares!) As my mum says "Listen to me young man, when you get to my age you can do whatever you like!" You can even do some flex and point of your feet while sitting on the couch watching telly.

Incorporating these exercises into your every day life makes it effortless and fun! The rewards are so beneficial, and may keep you living independently for longer!

Or if you prefer, book in a session with me, online or face to face!


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