5 Workouts for People With Fall Risk

Fall risk is inherent to certain activities no matter who you are. Yet, some conditions increase fall risk during certain types of movement and exercise. One in four Americans aged sixty five or older, for example, falls each year. Other conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, and neurological disorders, can contribute to increased fall risk as well.

This doesn’t exclude people with higher fall risks from exercise! Here are five workouts that reduce or eliminate balance and coordination issues, perfect for people with higher fall risk.

1. Seated Leg Lifts

From a sitting position on the floor, back to a wall and legs straight out, lift and hold your leg a couple inches from the ground. After ten to fifteen seconds, release and repeat with the other leg. You can also sit in a chair, instead, back straight, and lift leg until it is parallel to the floor. Alternate after ten to fifteen seconds. Keep the core engaged.

2. Sitting Shoulder Press

Sitting upright in a chair, or on a bench, keeping good posture, point elbows out and slowly push arms upward to the sky until fully extended. Slowly release back down to beginning position. Focus on slow, deliberate movements, always keeping the core engaged. Use three, five, or ten-pound hand weights to increase resistance.

3. Elliptical

In situations where a traditional treadmill is too risky, the elliptical machine can be a safer, more stable alternative. Start light and slow, keeping body-weight impact minimal. Always hold on to the handles for safety, and increase workout time incrementally as you progress.

4. Pool Work

Another way to decrease body-weight impact during exercise is to hop into the pool. Swimming and water aerobics are one of the best total-body workouts that carry little fall risk. Most gyms offer group pool workout classes that can be dynamic and engaging. Good for the heart, too.

5. AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™

Perhaps the safest way to control fall risk is training with the Anti-Gravity Treadmill. Under the supervision of a trained physical therapist, patients and athletes can reduce body-weight impact in 1% increments. Thanks to a sturdy harness, participants can walk or run unrestricted by fear of falling or pain and make adjustments to their gait on the fly.

This is just a small sampling of the many exercises suitable for people with higher fall risk. Have fun and mix it up to keep things interesting. Explore different muscle groups and systems to target, both upper and lower body. The main thing is to keep moving in safe and rewarding ways.

Why Your Body Needs Rest Days

There is a hero in us all that loves to “just push through.” Push through the pain. Push through the fatigue, soreness, and hunger. While there is nothing wrong with a strong work ethic, it can be a mistake to push on at the expense of much needed rest and recovery.  Among the many reasons why your body needs rest days, here are five that might give you pause the next time you want to skip a day off.

1. Avoid Overuse Injuries (and Overtraining Syndrome)

Working out too much can push your muscles, bones,  and ligaments, leading go overuse injuries. Think tennis elbow, tendonitis, sprains, and tears. It can also lead to overtraining syndrome, a common condition that can include dragging fatigue, sleep disruption, and mood swings (among other symptoms).

2. Restore Muscle Tissue

Have you ever gotten the feeling after a day or two off that you return that much stronger and more energized? During nearly any kind of training, inflammation and even small tears occur in muscle tissues. During rest, the healing and regeneration of these muscles is what allows us to build strength, endurance, and muscle mass.

3. Replenish, Refuel, Hydrate

Rest days are also an opportunity to replenish the things your body needs to recover. A diet rich in lean protein, fruits, and vegetables will provide some of the calories, vitamins, and nutrients lost during exercise. Of course, you should continue drinking ample water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Not only will diet and water intake help you recover, it will prepare you for tomorrow’s workout, too.

4. Get Your Mind Right

Time away from the physical challenge and psychological strain that accompanies exercise, workout regimens, and sporting activities can do wonders for the mind. A bit of mental rest can recenter your memory, focus, and motivation that might suffer if you burn yourself out. Take a full day off and feed the mind with positive stimulation.

Taking a day off when your body needs rest isn’t a sign of weakness, or quitting—it’s smart. The world’s top athletes and trainers swear by it (alongside proper nutrition and hydration). Just getting a bit more sleep every night can make a world of difference in you mood, energy level, and motivation.

How long? Allow one to two days between working out the same group of muscles. These rules vary depending on type of exercise and body type, so it’s always a good idea to check with your physician or physical therapist to confirm.

Either way, rest is essential to better performance. Put it all together and you’ll come back stronger than ever.

What Does Patient-Therapist Collaboration Really Look Like?

From a patient’s point of view, the right fit for physical therapy can be challenging. Since this will be an ongoing relationship, lasting at least the duration of the physical therapy program, the first thing to look for is an atmosphere of communication, trust, and collaboration.

What, though, does patient-therapist collaboration actually look like? Here are four common attributes of strong patient-therapist relationships that can help both patients and therapists evaluate clinical environments.

Honest Communication Is Encouraged (Even When It’s Uncomfortable)

Patients want to know not only that they will be heard, but that they will be treated with respect and equanimity no matter the information they are communicating. Therapists can engender more effective collaboration by encouraging patients to communicate early and often about whatever they feel is important to share.

This can be as simple as providing an opportunity at the outset of each visit to share updates, concerns, or questions a patient might have. Over time, patients will feel more comfortable communicating valuable information that can help shape the pace and direction of the therapy program.

Trust is Established Early and Honored Throughout

Open patient-therapist communication goes hand in hand with trust. Physical therapists can establish trust by listening to a patient and, where appropriate, taking action on the information provided.

When patients recognize that their therapist is making clinical decisions in the patient’s best interest—based in part on the information the patient is providing—they will be more likely to stay engaged with the program.

Goal Setting is Collaborative and Patient-Focused

When expectations around trust and communication are in place, patients will feel more comfortable communicating about their comfort levels and pain, functional ability, insecurities and worries. With that information, the therapist and patient can work together to set realistic, mutually agreed upon goals, then design and adjust therapy programs based on this mutual understanding.

It Gets Results

When trust, communication, and goal setting are collaborative in nature, both patients and therapists will be more engaged, thus increasing the likelihood of more positive outcomes. It should come as no surprise, then that where strong patient-therapist collaboration is found, so, too, are consistently good results.

5 Pointers for Better Training in Cold Weather

Should you be one of the brave and determined souls that engage in cold weather training, we salute you. No hibernation for the weary, especially when there are resolutions on the mind.

Cold weather training presents its own set of challenges. The body, for one, responds differently to the cold—during preparation, training itself, and recovery time.

Here are five tips for better, safer training in cold weather. Follow these and you’ll be well positioned to train stronger throughout the cold season.

1. Get Enough to Eat and Drink

Just because the temperatures are low doesn’t mean your body isn’t working just as hard (if not harder) than it might during summer. Calorically speaking, your body needs fuel not only to sustain your training routine, but to keep your body arm while doing it. And proper hydration is just as important during winter as it is any other month.

2. Insulate and Regulate

Beyond plain comfort, layering yourself properly can help manage cold weather conditions during training. Make sure to insulate your body so it stays warm, of course. But for longer routines, ventilate intermittently to make sure your body doesn’t overheat under the extra layers. Finally, shield yourself from the cutting wind best you can.

3. Stay Moving, Stay Loose

Cold temperatures can limit blood flow and encourage us to (consciously or not) stay tight and compact to keep in the warmth. While training in cold weather, it is important to maintain circulation throughout the workout. Runners, for example, can windmill the arms, or periodically shake them out. Wiggle the toes, open and close your fists. Maintaining good circulation prevents injury and keeps the body running optimally.

4. Cool Down Sensibly

A cool down is always a good idea, no matter the weather. That’s because after training, the heart is working extra hard and requires time to gradually return to a normal state. Cold weather puts even more load on the heart, so it’s important to get a gradual cool down to reduce risk of heart strain, fainting, or feelings of sickness. But don’t linger in the cold! Cooling sweat can increase your risk of catching a chill.

5. Clear It With a Physician

Vigorous exercise of any kind puts added strain on the body. Because training in cold weather requires more heart exertion, it is imperative that those new to exercise, or living with obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, consult with a physician first.

Ultimately, the mantra for cold weather training is simple: prepare well and be sensible. The five pointers above should help you train smart during the winter months and be in the best shape of your life come spring.

What is Overtraining? What to Look for and How to Train Smart

Conventional wisdom tells us that the harder we work, the more progress we will make. Put in the extra hours at the office, for example, or study on the weekends, and you’ll be that much further ahead. Same goes for athletics and exercise, right?

Not quite.

What is Overtraining?

As it turns out, too much training can have adverse effects. Though it might seem counterintuitive, working out too hard can harm the body, stunt progress, and lead to injury. Once you reach this tipping point, you might experience overtraining syndrome, or the symptoms associated with training with more frequency and intensity than your body can feasibly recover from.

Signs You Might Be Overtraining

Have you ever gone out for your morning run and said to yourself, “Wow, I just don’t have it today?” Sometimes, you’re just having an off day. It could be sleep related. It might be due to something you ate the previous day. If it’s happening chronically, though, you could be suffering the consequences of overtraining.

Here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • Mood swings
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Diminished performance
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Incomplete or interrupted sleep cycles
  • Loss of appetite
  • Injury

You can find overtraining syndrome in people of all skill levels and conditioning. People starting new workout or training regimens, for example, are prone to overtraining. In their eagerness to start something new, newbies will often dive into a gruelling regimen headlong without giving their bodies ample time to adjust, recover, and repair.

Overtraining can affect even the highest level athletes, too, especially those with gruelling training programs. Distance marathoners, boxers, and and professional weightlifters come to mind.

No matter what kind of training you do, it’s important to train smart.

How to Avoid and Recover from Overtraining

The problem with overtraining syndrome is that it can be difficult to identify. Many of the symptoms are shared by other illnesses and disorders. If you think you might have triggered overtraining syndrome, it’s important to first seek your physician’s recommendations.

When you do return to training, mark your progress by increments and include rest and recovery days. Some days, it’s best not to do any training at all. And remember that no workout regimen can be successful without adequate sleep and a mindful diet. Here a few other tips to avoid overtraining:

  • Get at least eight hours of sleep a night
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day
  • Always warm up and stretch before exercises
  • Always cool down your body after training
  • Work “off” days into your training regimen

Finally, listen to your body! The human body is a complex machine with built-in mechanisms that signal distress, pain, and overuse. Listen to what your body is telling you, and remember that a “play through the pain” attitude can have serious consequences.

3 Winter Workouts You Can Do At Home

Like most dark and dreary winter days, at-home workouts tend to be boring and uninspired. We thought we’d put together a list of three fun exercise activities that will stimulate both your mind and matter, all while keeping those pesky winter blues at bay.

Here’s our list of three home workouts for winter, including some ideas on how to make the most of whichever you choose.

Jump Rope like a Boxer

In the world of boxing and mixed martial arts, jumping rope is a staple. It’s perfect as a warm up, or as a workout in and of itself. Benefits include improvements in endurance, coordination, agility, and foot speed. Think jumping rope is boring? See if you can make it through twenty minutes, nonstop, while incorporating the following moves:

  • Side swing
  • Criss cross
  • Single-foot hop
  • Alternating feet
  • Scissors
  • Scissor lunges
  • Heal to toe
  • Toe to toe
  • Double unders
  • High knees

As your rope jumping advances, you can try using a weighted rope, or speed rope, to increase the challenge.

Stream it to Your Living Room

When it comes to at-home winter workouts, video search engines like YouTube are a goldmine. Why? Two reasons: it’s free, and the variety is endless. Here are a few search terms to throw into YouTube that will give you a great start at finding what works for you:

  • Dance workout
  • Yoga routine
  • Tai chi routine
  • HIIT routines
  • Core strength routine
  • Kickboxing routine

For each of these search terms, you’ll find plenty of high quality workouts you can do at home.

Use What You Were Born With

Body weight exercises require just one thing: you. And like jumping rope, there is no end to the variety of body weight exercises you can build into your routine. To begin, try putting together a circuit routine with 3-5 of the following body weight exercises.

  • Push-ups (use proper form!)
  • Pike hold
  • Ankle touch push ups
  • Forward and side planks
  • Standard squats
  • Prisoner squats
  • Burpees

Those should get you percolating (that last one is tough!). Here is an excellent, illustrated guide of more than 40 bodyweight exercises.

Tips for Your Winter Workout

No matter which winter workout you choose, here are a few recommendations to help your home workout be more successful:

  • Clear a dedicated space for the workout
  • Limit distractions so you can focus
  • Keep it short and engaging, thirty minutes to an hour tops
  • Spice it up with some music (deep house, anyone?)
  • Invite a workout partner to join you

And finally, don’t look out the window! Because yes, it is still cold and, yes, it still the middle of winter.

If You Are Up For Leaving the House …

Of course, we can’t hibernate the entire winter! And besides, a change in scenery (and a bit of socializing) can do the body good. Did you know that you can book individual sessions on an AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill™ in your area? Use the link below to search your zip code for a facility that offers individual sessions on one of our Anti-Gravity Treadmill products.

Find an Anti-Gravity Treadmill >>

5 Tips for Reducing Joint Pain During Exercise

For most people living an active lifestyle, there comes a time when the joints start talking. It could be the knees, hips, and ankles; or it might be your elbows, shoulders, and wrists. No matter our sport or exercise of choice, we rely on our joints tremendously. And like any other body part, joints are prone to wear and tear, damage, and decline.

While joint pain is often associated with conditions like rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, overtraining, fatigue, and other factors can also cause joint pain. Even one’s diet can have a significant impact on joint strength and dexterity.

5 Ways to Reduce Joint Pain During Exercise

Let’s start here: if you have joint pain during exercise, it’s unwise to just take extra-strength painkillers and power through. Try, rather, to get to the root of the issue. If your joint pain cannot be resolved completely, managing the symptoms is the next best option. And this requires listening to your body and, in many cases, changing your approach to exercise entirely.

  1. Reassess What’s Best For You – There’s a fine line between “just living with” joint pain and doing lasting and irreparable damage. Give your body a rest and go talk to your physician or physical therapist to determine what’s best for your specific symptoms. Your current regimen might be doing more harm than good.

  2. Don’t Skip Warmup Or Cooldown – Besides avoiding injury, a good warmup and cooldown routine can help increase blood flow to your joints and prevent swelling, stiffness, or soreness later on.

  3. Avoid Too Much Repetition – Pounding the pavement on long runs, day after day, can worsen a problem like joint pain. Though activities like running and cycling are beneficial in many ways, it might be time to mix it up a little. Try incorporating a lower impact routine, such as yoga, tai chi, or swimming.

  4. Avoid Overtraining – Mixing up your routine is also a good way to avoid overtraining. Apart from other negative consequences on the body, overtraining can worsen joint pain during exercise. Make sure to get adequate rest between workouts!

  5. Reduce Body-Weight Impact – Excessive body weight and gravitational impact can also intensify joint pain. During resistance exercise, try reducing the weight you are lifting. Another alternative is to take to the water, as buoyancy helps reduce body-weight impact as well.

Related Article: Exercises and Movements for Managing Juvenile Arthritis

A Smarter Way to Reduce Body Weight Impact

While water-based exercises can help reduce joint pain during exercise, the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill can be particularly effective. Using Differential Air Pressure technology, AlterG treadmills allow you to incrementally reduce body weight impact during walking and running exercises up to 80%. Learn more about Anti-Gravity Treadmills from AlterG.

Winter Coping Tips for the Movement Impaired

As pretty as snowfall might be, the winter months can wear a person down. When added to the already glum mix of cold weather and limited daylight, mobility issues can make winter difficult to get through.

We can empathize! That’s why we’ve put together our favorite methods and tips for coping with winter blues. Spend a week or two getting to know these practices, just a little time each day, and spring will arrive in no time.

Silent and Guided Meditation

There is perhaps no simpler, more calming way to transport one’s self than through meditation. People around the world rely on meditation to reduce stress, calm the soul, and clear the mind.

During a guided meditation, a speaker (live or recorded) will walk participants through each step, using verbal cues to induce a relaxed state and encourage peaceful visualizations. Silent meditation is usually done on one’s own, and requires little more than a quiet, uninterrupted space and a commitment to the practice.

The best approach to meditation is to try it, unfettered and unconcerned with “getting it right.” For more information about silent meditation, check out the beginner’s guide to silent meditation from Zen Habits. For guided meditations, try searching YouTube, where you can specify the length and style you prefer.

Breathing Exercises

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day. But, because breathing is involuntary and so commonplace, many of us take it for granted.

Question is, do we really know how to breathe?

As it turns out, there are a variety of breathing techniques that can help during meditation, to reduce stress, or to stem the onset of acute anxiety attacks. According to the American Institute of Stress, a single or series of deep breaths can activate the body’s “natural relaxation response.”

Here are a few other breathing techniques to start your winter days with:

Let There Be Light

Though it might not seem like it, the sun is out there, even if it’s hiding behind a thick layer of grey clouds. Apart from supplying the body with an important vitamin, maximizing one’s exposure to daylight helps keep the winter blues at bay, while giving your body and mind a noticeable boost.

To get ample light exposure each day:

  • Keep the curtains open until nightfall
  • Position yourself near windows that let in light
  • At night, light candles around the room
  • Swap out old bulbs for bright, energy efficient bulbs

On the rare occasion that the winter sun does rear is radiant head, commit to getting outside any way you can! Even brief exposure to the sunshine can do wonders.

Best American Races for Runners in 2019

Why do we run races?

Love for the sport, sure. The challenge to body and mind. The camaraderie and setting are important, too.

For most runners, though, a race is more than just a chance to compete, or a medal to hang around their neck. It is a life experience worth cherishing for the hard work it symbolizes—for the sense of accomplishment that comes after crossing the finish line.

Fortunately, the United States is home to some of the most fun and scenic runs in the world. From sea to shining sea, big city to big mountain, we’ve hand selected must-do, must-see marathons to register for this coming year.

Classic City Marathons

If you can brave the sometimes unpredictable conditions, urban marathons are full of memorable buzz. Run among the skyscrapers, be among your people, be cheered on by the crowds. Here are three classics to consider.

Chicago Marathon

The annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the largest in the world, and it draws quite the crowd. Here’s your chance to criss cross the Chicago River, pass beneath the iconic Sears Tower, and pound the pavement along the shores of Lake Michigan.

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Month: October

New York City Half Marathon

Why just visit Central Park and Times Square when you can marathon them? The NYC Half Marathon is like a running tour of the Big Apple. Feel the energy as you pass through the world’s most famous city, take in the views as you bound across the iconic Manhattan Bridge.

  • Location: New York, New York
  • Month: March

Cherry Blossom Ten Miles

The Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is one of the most scenic on our “urban” list. Open to runners of all levels, this ten-miler coincides with the spring blossom of cherry trees throughout D.C. And like the NYC half, it’s a running sightseeing tour: the route passes the Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Month: April

Bucket List Destinations

Racing through the big city is one thing, but some races are known for the natural beauty of their surroundings. Be one with Mother Nature for these three stunning destination races.

New River Half Marathon and 5k

Welcome to North Carolina in early summer. Stunning! The New River Marathon courses along the New River in the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the oldest ranges in the world. Finishers rave about the fragrant trees, majestic scenery, and Southern hospitality. Participate in a full marathon, half, or 5k.

  • Location: Fleetwood, North Carolina
  • Month: June

Carlsbad 5000

Dubbed “the world’s fastest 5k,” the Carlsbad 5000 is a high energy, super fun 5k that courses along one of the most beautiful stretches of Pacific Ocean in Southern California. And for a post-finish cooldown? Take a dip in the ocean!

  • Location: Carlsbad, California
  • Month: April

Kauai Half Marathon

Ahh, the Garden Island. Is there a more gorgeous natural setting on earth? Not many, and there might not be a more gorgeous half marathon. Indeed, the Kauai Half Marathon is a sight to behold.

  • Location: Kauai, Hawaii
  • Month: June

The Fun Stuff

Okay, there are serious and competitive races, and then there are races for those of us who just want to have some fun.

Bay to Breakers

This famous foot race is over one hundred years old! Bay to Breakers brings out all the character that San Francisco is known for. Aside from passing through one of the most beautiful cities in America, have fun taking in all the wild costumes participants love to sport.

  • Location: San Francisco, California
  • Month: May

Walt Disney World Marathon

Run alongside all of your favorite Disney characters in one of the most magical places on earth. The Walt Disney World Marathon will certainly inspire your imagination!

  • Location: Orlando, Florida
  • Month: January

Keep Austin Weird 5k

Not to be outdone by Bay to Breakers, the Keep Austin Weird 5k is known for wild costumes and a fun, energetic atmosphere. This race is dubbed the “slowest race you’ll ever run” for a reason!

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Month: June

Run Your Best Race in 2019

It’s a big country with lots of pavement to pound. 2019 is shaping up to be a big year! The toughest part will be deciding which races to run …

As you prepare to run wild this coming year, make sure your body is prepared. Headed somewhere altitudinous? Check out our article on altitude and running. For those of you looking to push the limits and beat your personal bests—maybe even place in a race or two this coming year—check out how the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill can improve running.

No matter what, remember to have fun!

4 Ways to Safely Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions

In the spirit of optimism and support, we salute your new year’s resolutions, whatever they may be. In our experience, what separates those who achieve their new year’s resolutions and those who don’t is simple: setting and pursuing resolutions in an intelligent, safe way.

Failing to do so can not only derail a person’s gung-ho pursuit of newly minted resolutions, but lead to pain, injury, and unexpected consequences. Here are four ways to safely achieve your new year’s resolutions.

1. Make informed resolutions

One reason resolutions are so appealing is because they show us where we want to be. They do little, however, to remind us of where we are today. Before setting resolutions, take a detailed inventory of your baselines.

This should start with a visit to the doctor for a routine physical. This appointment will give you baseline numbers around your height, weight, heart rate, and other key diagnostics. Blood work and urine samples can help identify any other risk factors you might consider before starting a workout program.

Aside from  physician’s approval to exercise, you can also get a body composition assessment to get numbers around body fat percentage, BMI and other baseline indicators. If your resolutions include running, gait assessment and analysis can prove highly informative. All of this information will help you identify safe goals to set and give you concrete numbers to measure your progress against.

2. Under promise and over deliver (not the other way around)

A surefire way to fall short of fulfilling your new year’s resolutions is to set unrealistic goals. This is also a good way to find yourself out of commission due to injury. Avoid this common pitfall by setting specific goals that are both achievable and sustainable.

Instead of making a resolution to lose fifty pounds, aim for the first ten by the first of March. If your goal is to do the splits, start by touching your toes. Overly ambitious goals can lead you to push yourself unsafely, increase injury risk, and be too hard on yourself should you fail to achieve resolutions that might have been wildly unrealistic in the first place.

3. Remember that sudden change can shock the system

Though a shock to the system can sometimes be a good thing, it can also be dangerous for certain people, body types, and conditions. Rapid weight loss for obese individuals, for instance, or going from a sedentary lifestyle to marathon training can lead to injury, complications, and unforeseen consequences. Consult with a physician first and always remember the age-old adage: baby steps to the bus.

4. Believe in the basics and insist on them

Without adequate rest, a relatively balanced diet, and plenty of water, few resolutions have any chance of flowering. That’s like hopping into a car with no oil, coolant, or fuel, then expecting it to make a trip across the country! Put yourself in a better position to succeed by defining a list of five fundamentals, and then obsess over them.

Examples might be getting eight hours of sleep at least five nights a week, or drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. No food, not even snacks, after 8:00 or 9:00 pm. Always stretching before (warm-up) and after (cool-down) exercise. The more consistently you make good on these fundamentals, the better equipped you’ll be to make good on your greater resolutions. In fact, consistently doing these things on a daily basis could be a resolution in and of itself.

Because Safe Resolutions are Strong Resolutions

The new year is in full swing and we hope your resolutions are, too. We believe in you! We also believe in setting safe, realistic goals and putting yourself in the best position to be successful. You’ve got this! Follow the four fundamental steps above and you’ll be well on your way to always making your new year’s resolutions come true.