Your feet and ankles play a crucial role in maintaining balance. And while this has been scientifically proven, exercises that strengthen them are often overlooked.
Today’s exercise strengthens the bones and muscles of the ankles, feet, thighs and hips, plus it improves balance.
I also bring you two studies, one that proves how important strong, flexible feet and ankles are in preventing falls and fractures, and a study that shows the incredible benefits of even minimal exercise.
I know you’re going to enjoy this weekend’s challenge, so let’s get started!
Falls are the number one cause of fractures. Good balance is the key to preventing falls, and today’s exercise not only helps fine-tune your balance. It also builds bone in the ankles, hips, and femur, further protecting you from falls that could result in broken bones.
The Role Of Feet And Ankles In Balance
As mentioned above, it’s surprising that the feet and ankles are so easily overlooked when it comes to exercise – especially given the fact that they are pivotal in maintaining balance.
A recent study sheds light on just how crucial they are. When 60 healthy participants aged 20-75 were evaluated for stability and “postural sway” (the horizontal shifting of a person’s center of gravity when he or she is standing still), researchers noted several key points.
They first point out that “stability, ankle plantarflexor strength, and eversion range of motion is declined with aging.”1
Plantar flexion refers to moving the ankle joint that points the foot or toes downward toward the sole. For example, plantar flexion happens when you’re pushing on the gas pedal in your car or when you stand on your tiptoes. Eversion refers to the foot turning outward, away from the median plane. These basic motions become less efficient as we age, which means it’s a good idea to target these areas before problems arise.
Second, researchers also noted that the stronger the flexion and greater the range of motion in eversion, the better the participants’ balance.1
They concluded that programs to improve plantar flexion strength and range of motion of eversion “are beneficial in improving balance, stability, and prevention of falling in the elderly.”1
Today’s exercise does just that, and more. Here’s how to do it.
The Balancing Ankle And Leg Strengthener can be done barefoot, and in fact, that’s preferable.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Bend your knees about 45 degrees. Don’t let your knees go beyond your toes.
- Lean forward, keeping your back straight, and hold your hands up in front of you for balance.
- Stand on tiptoe by flexing your feet.
- Rise up, staying on tiptoe, and bring your arms down by your sides as you straighten your legs.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times (as many as you’re comfortable doing) for one set. Do 2 or 3 sets, once again staying within your comfort level.
Here's a great video demonstration of this move:
The benefits of exercises like this one go beyond strengthening bones, preventing falls, and promoting good health. It’s been scientifically proven that exercise – even a little – has a positve effect on longevity.
Study Shows That Even Minimal Exercise Increases Lifespan
Researchers compared the data found in six studies, which involved more than 660,000 people in the U.S. and Europe. They found that exercise increased longevity, but surprisingly, even a bare minimum of exercise increased lifespans by 20%.2
The authors note that:
“Compared with individuals reporting no leisure time physical activity, we observed a 20% lower mortality risk among those performing less than the recommended minimum of 7.5 metabolic-equivalent hours per week,”2
Basically, being just a above complete inactivity has a beneficial effect. While scientists found that the longevity increase was greater with more exercise, this is still very encouraging news, especially for those who are just getting started with regular exercise. Just about everyone can do some kind of exercise, and this study clearly shows some exercise is better than none!
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The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System is designed to be practiced three days a week for just 15 minutes a day. This alone gets you well on the way to enjoying the many benefits of exercise all the while you’re building and strengthening your bones, enhancing balance, and improving posture and flexibility. And of course, you can add in the Weekend Challenges for more activity and variety.
Have a great weekend!
1 Soo-Kyung Bok, M.D.; Tae Heon Lee; and Sang Sook Lee, M.D.. “The Effects of Changes of Ankle Strength and range of Motion According to Aging on Balance.” Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine. February 2013. 37(1): 10-16. Doi: 10.5535/arm.2013.37.1.10. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3604218/
2 Arem, Hannah, MHS, PhD, et al. “Leisure Time Physical Activity and Mortality: A Detailed Pooled Analysis of the Dose-Response Relationship.” JAMA Intern Med. 2015; 175(6): 959-967. Doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.0533. Web. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2212267