Does exercise work?
Every day we read articles extolling the benefits of exercise, how even a little a day can make the difference between battling a host of problems, and living into healthy old age. But how do you know if it's working? If you're not doing exercise for weight loss, or for specific sport training, how do you measure whether it's actually doing you any good? I have to be honest and say that I get stuck in a rut with my exercise. For months, I simply go through the motions, following the instructor, or repeating the same old routine on my own. I can't be sure that I feel much stronger. So is it actually doing me any good?It turns out that doing a balance test would tell me. The reason is that many things affect your balance, and one of the simplest to improve is muscle strength and flexibility – especially for your core muscles and muscles in your legs and ankles. For elderly people, consider whether you shuffle, rather than lifting your feet properly when you walk. If you do, it may be a sign that you could benefit from strength exercises. But even if you walk normally, take walks as a form of exercise, you could be compensating for a weakness in one muscle area or another. Perhaps your ankles are not particularly flexible, the thought of standing on one leg makes you break out in a sweat. As humans, our bodies adapt to the strains we put on them, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are strong.In order to improve muscle strength, the exercises you do should challenge you. Panting and sweating is normal when your muscles are working hard at any age, and using different muscle groups to the ones we use every day makes a big difference in overall fitness too. Believe it or not, it is still possible to improve your strength, no matter how old you are. Speaking to a fitness instructor can help you pinpoint which exercises are safe for you and will help you the most to boost your balance and put a spring back in your step.For further information, you may find the exercises published by the National Institute for Health useful: nihseniorhealth.gov