Floor or couch? Couch or floor?
When you have a couch or soft comfy chair it’s hard to imagine wanting to sit on the floor.
What does the research say?
However, research has shown that the ability to get up from the floor is a significant predictor of longevity in people aged 51 to 80. (Ability to sit and rise from the floor). A study in 2020, backs up the same conclusion as the earlier one from 2014. (Sitting-rising test)
Who does sit on the floor?
Sitting on the floor is a traditional practice, commonly found in Asian countries that has been passed down through generations and has proven to be advantageous for physical health, flexibility, posture, and overall well-being.
What are the advantages of being able to sit and rise from the floor?
One of the primary advantages of sitting on the floor is improved posture. When sitting on a chair or a couch, it’s easy to adopt a slouched or hunched position.
Sitting on the floor requires more engagement of the core muscles, promoting an upright and aligned spine. This can help alleviate back and neck pain and improve overall spinal health.
If you’re on the floor then the act of getting up requires a range of motion in the joints, which helps to maintain their flexibility and prevents stiffness. Regular floor sitting can also contribute to improved hip, knee, and ankle mobility.
Sitting on the floor can increase strength and stability by forcing the body to rely on its own muscles for balance and support. This engagement of muscles again helps to strengthen the core, lower back, and leg muscles,
When we improve our muscle strength and balance, we can reduce the risk of injury and improve overall stability.
But what if I’m not able to get up and down from the floor?
Not all elderly individuals may find sitting on the floor comfortable or suitable for their specific physical conditions. Factors such as joint pain, mobility issues, or existing musculoskeletal conditions should be taken into consideration and it’s important to consult a medical practitioner in these instances.
Finally, why should I sit on the floor?
The main plusses of floor sitting are better balance, stability, and coordination, greater mobility, a strong core and legs, and a healthier posture.
What’s not to love about that?
We often take our feet for granted – we walk, run, and play games on them – and hope that they will just keep working for us.
Unfortunately, as we age, several changes can occur in our feet and ankles that can have a significant impact on mobility and overall foot health.
Some of these ways include:
- Reduced flexibility and range of motion: As we age, the ligaments and tendons in the feet and ankles can lose elasticity, leading to decreased flexibility and a limited range of motion. This can make it harder to perform certain movements and it can increase the risk of falls and injuries.
- Fat pad thinning: The natural cushioning in our feet, provided by fat pads, tends to diminish over time. You may feel pain in the ball of your foot and heel which makes them more susceptible to conditions like plantar fasciitis or heel spurs.
- Our muscles in the feet and ankles can also weaken as we get older which may lead to our ankles becoming more unstable and leave us at a higher risk of sprains and strains.
- By the time you reach your 50th birthday, your feet may have walked you 75,000 miles or more. Wear and tear like this can bring an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. This happens when cartilage, a flexible tissue that prevents friction, breaks down, resulting in bone rubbing against bone. This can affect mobility and quality of life.
- We may also suffer from reduced circulation which can lead to slower wound healing and a greater chance of infections and possibly foot ulcers.
A 2017 study that investigated foot problems in older adults concluded that foot problems decreased movement performance. It went on to say that early intervention and routine assessment and management of foot problems could alleviate the fear of falling in older people and reduce the risk of frailty. (Foot problems in older adults)
To mitigate the effects of aging on the feet and ankles, it’s important to take proactive steps to maintain foot health such as:
- Engaging in regular foot exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
- Wearing supportive, properly fitting footwear with cushioning and arch support.
- Practicing good foot hygiene, moisturising the skin, and trimming nails carefully.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper weight management, and
- Seeking prompt medical attention for any foot pain, swelling, or changes in foot appearance.
By taking care of your feet and addressing any issues promptly, you can enhance your mobility, reduce discomfort, and maintain better foot and ankle health as you age.
Posture and confidence are closely intertwined, as the way we carry ourselves physically has a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. Posture refers to the alignment and positioning of the body, including the head, shoulders, spine, and pelvis. Good posture involves maintaining proper alignment while sitting, standing, and moving, which has numerous benefits for both physical and psychological health.
Confidence is a state of self-assurance and a belief in one’s abilities, worth, and potential. It is influenced by various factors, including past experiences, self-perception, and external feedback.
Interestingly, research has shown that posture can significantly influence confidence levels. A 2015 study of 74 participants that examined the question – “Do slumped and upright postures affect stress responses?” concluded that upright participants reported high self-esteem, better mood, and lower fear compared to slumped participants that were in the trial. (Effects of good posture).
And this is not just applicable to adults. In 2020 a study by psychologists concluded that a dominant body posture may help children to feel more confident in school. (Children and confidence).
What can happen if we adopt a good posture?
When we adopt a posture that is open, upright, and aligned, it signals confidence in ourselves and others. Standing tall with shoulders back and head held high portrays an air of self-assuredness. This upright posture not only enhances physical presence but also creates a positive impression on others, leading to increased confidence in social interactions.
Furthermore, the mind and body are deeply interconnected, and our physical state can influence our emotional state. Maintaining good posture helps optimise breathing, circulation, and muscle function, which can positively affect mood and mental clarity. When we stand or sit in a slouched or hunched position, it can restrict breathing, contribute to muscle tension, and lead to feelings of fatigue or low energy, which can undermine confidence.
On the other hand, adopting an open and expansive posture has been shown to promote feelings of empowerment and positive self-perception. Research conducted by social psychologist Amy Cuddy and her colleagues demonstrated that adopting “power poses,” such as standing in a wide stance with arms raised, for just a few minutes can increase levels of testosterone (associated with confidence) and decrease levels of cortisol (associated with stress). (TED talk, Amy Buddy and power posing).
Improving posture can, therefore, have a transformative effect on confidence. By consciously practicing and cultivating good posture, individuals can not only enhance physical well-being but also boost their self-assurance, improve body image, and project a more confident and positive presence in various aspects of life.
Good posture and confidence are deeply interconnected. By maintaining an upright and aligned posture, individuals can improve physical health, enhance mood, and project confidence in themselves and others. Cultivating good posture can contribute to an increased sense of self-assuredness, positive body image, and overall well-being, ultimately allowing individuals to navigate life with greater confidence and success.
Preventing falls among seniors is crucial to maintaining their safety, independence, and overall well-being. There are some key strategies that will go a long way toward reducing the risk of falls.
- Exercise and strength training: Regular physical activity, including exercises that improve balance, strength, and flexibility, can enhance stability and reduce the likelihood of falls. Activities such as tai chi, yoga, and walking can be beneficial as well as taking time during the day to practice specific balance exercises.
- Home modifications: Modifications to the living environment can create a safer space for seniors. This includes removing trip hazards, installing handrails and grab bars in bathrooms and stairways, ensuring proper lighting, and using non-slip mats or rugs.
- Medication management: The side effects of some medications can increase the risk of falls such as dizziness or drowsiness. Medications should be regularly reviewed with a doctor or healthcare professional to minimize these risks.
- Vision and hearing checks: Regular eye and hearing examinations are essential for identifying and addressing any impairments that may affect balance and spatial awareness.
- Proper footwear: Comfortable, well-fitting shoes with non-slip soles are essential to maintain stability and prevent falls.
- Assistive devices: The use of canes, walkers, or other assistive devices can provide additional support and stability for seniors who may have balance or mobility issues.
- Regular check-ups: Routine medical check-ups can identify any underlying health conditions or factors that may contribute to falls, such as muscle weakness, osteoporosis, or cardiovascular problems.
Implementation of these strategies will go a long way toward reducing the risk of falls and help people maintain an active and safe lifestyle.
Unfortunately, as we age our metabolism does slow down naturally. We might be aware of gaining weight and not being able to lose it like we once did.
But all is not lost.
From being more careful about what we eat, getting the right amount of sleep, and drinking enough water, moving more will help us positively with the speed of our metabolism.
So, what movement will help me?
Firstly, there is the general idea of moving more.
How much we move each day has a significant impact on our metabolism. Research has shown that older adults burn roughly 29% fewer calories due to reduced activity levels. According to Age UK, 29% of people aged 65 to 74 are physically inactive. This number jumps to 47% for people aged 75 to 84, and 70% for those over 85.
By incorporating more exercise into your daily routine, you can make a significant difference in helping to prevent a drop in your metabolism. This movement could be in the form of doing more of a hobby that you enjoy or taking up a different form of exercise. Even doing more household chores, manually, will increase activity levels.
Secondly, find more time in the day to stand.
We now hear regularly that too much sitting is not good for our overall health, and it does burn fewer calories. Research from 2013 (PubMed) suggests that an afternoon of standing up at work can burn an extra 174 calories compared to sitting down.
If you are still working and find that you sit a lot during the day, there might be the option of a standing desk or raising your laptop to eye level so that you can stand for some of the working day.
Thirdly, consider spending time on strength or resistance training.
This is one of the best ways to increase and maintain our metabolism as we get older.
We naturally start to lose muscle after the age of 30 and by the age of 50 our muscle mass decreases at about 1-2% annually. Muscles use more energy at rest than fat does.
The great advantage of strength training is that it gives us a way to keep and increase our muscle mass. When you increase muscle mass, the metabolism is boosted, and more calories are burned. And if you are on a weight loss plan, doing strength training can help to retain muscle mass which will impact metabolic speed.
Even though we will all age, we can take steps to look after ourselves so that we can remain mobile, independent, and upright.
No matter what our age is, we can learn, or relearn throughout our life. This is especially true in relation to preventing falls as we age – and this is where strength and balance training for seniors pays dividends.
Why are strength and balance important?
Strength and balance are important – balance so that we are aware of what we are doing with our body and strength so that our muscles are strong enough to support our body.
There are six exercises that have been proven to be beneficial for seniors in preventing falls.
It’s important to make sure that any exercise is undertaken in a safe environment, and if you are just starting out it can be very helpful to do the exercises near a sturdy chair or counter.
What are the exercises?
Firstly, standing marches is a good warmup as well as a good exercise – move slowly bringing your knees as high as you feel able to.
Secondly, leg extensions. This makes leg muscles stronger. Sit upright on a chair and straighten one leg out as much as you can, bring it back, and do the same with the other leg.
Thirdly, the knee curl. Hold on to a chair or countertop, and stand on one leg. With your other leg, bend at the knee and bring your foot up behind you.
Fourthly, heel-to-toe walking. This is a good exercise for practicing to be able to pass through narrow spaces. Place the heel of one foot at the toe of the other foot and keep the feet in a straight line.
Fifthly, balancing on one foot. Lift one leg up and balance on the other leg, then swap over.
Finally, sit to stand. This focuses on being able to get up and sit down from a seated position. This is more challenging if you use a chair without arms but use a chair with arms rests if you need them to help you.
All the above exercises can be progressed over time to make them more challenging.