Thursday, May 1, 2014

Balance: The learning has begun.

We can't help but wonder if May will bring us some really nice (Maine) weather and free us up of all rain, cold, and even a little snow that April delivered to us.  The first day Thursday certainly isn't giving us any hope, but then a warming trend might get started.  Wouldn't that be nice? 

I had my second Southern Maine Agency on Aging Balance Workshop Wednesday.  I entered this program of learning how to manage my balance last week with great trepidation.  But when that session ended, I had gained an equal amount of hope as it was a super first session.  This week's activity wasn't quite as good as I had gone through just about all of it in other programs I've taken since my balance got shaky about 14 years ago.

However, next week's session should be much better as it'll be devoted to simple exercises that can be done at home as well as at the Workshop.  I'm looking forward to that session as I gave up my trips to the physical therapy/senior exercise place earlier this year.  I do have a stationary exercise bike at home and have attempted to maintain a somewhat regular routine on it.  But one can ride an exercise bike just so long before utter boredom sets in.  So a wide variety of exercises, like simulating a rowing machine, or leg lifts, and other such activities may be just what I need to get back to movement.

That's the purpose of the exercises we'll be starting next week.  Session Two was devoted to discussing among us the fears we have of falling and some ideas on how we can overcome those fears.  One of the best ways is to gain some strength to help get moving.  It is the normal type of strength  that will be emphasized in our Workshop rather than the body building kind.  Studies by the folk at Boston College that developed this Balance Workshop have shown that getting to move by seniors is about the best thing we can do.

I'm looking forward to it.  It would be nice to put that darned bike down cellar and forget it for a while.

The second session was designed for us to exchange stories and offer some common sense possibilities for solutions.  One of the things I ended up with is something I'm not sure was new or simply an awakening to times past.

One of the suggestions by several participants was to look at our pets, dogs and cats specifically, and see how they get up from a lying position.  Each time they stretch.  Yes, simple stretching gets the muscles a little looser and gets the desire for movement flowing.  I hadn't thought of that.  Stretching is really not new to me.  I never started working a game when I was an umpire without stretching first.  I can't tell you why I didn't carry that into my post baseball life, but I didn't.

This morning as I arose for the day, I did a few simple stretching exercises and, son of a gun, I felt like moving again.  Even the inside of my head seemed to be working at a slightly better pace.  Those stretches didn't take very long, a minute or two, but they were the first step in gaining some desire and strength to get on the move.  I'm sitting here now jotting down these thoughts and another channel of my mind is working on things I could do today.

Now that slight change has already begun giving me some confidence that perhaps the Workshop is going to help make my life better.  It's not so much what the participants are doing as it is transferring those actions in my life.  The vast majority of what we'll begin are activities that we probably used to do when we were younger before we started thinking about age and how had to slow down.  Slowing down can be speeded back up and that's where we're going to regain some of that balance we need to prevent falling.

Those simple exercises we're beginning next session seem to be more important.

I had written a little earlier here that the second session wasn't quite as good as the first one, but I think I might have entered those thoughts just a little too quickly.  Sorry 'bout that.


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