This weekend’s challenge improves muscle strength and endurance in the legs and arms, enhancing balance, preventing falls, and stimulating bone growth in these areas. And the only equipment you need is two water bottles!
Exercises like this one have been proven to prevent falls in seniors, and according to a comprehensive meta-analysis published in the prestigious BMJ, balance exercises prevent both falls and the injuries associated with them.
So let’s get started improving your balance – and so much more!
Some bones are more susceptible to fracture than others in the event of a fall. And if you’ve taken osteoporosis drugs, the femoral neck is particularly vulnerable, since these drugs increase femur fracture risk. The wrists and ankles are also vulnerable points.
The Complete Leg And Arm Strengthener includes all of these areas and enhances balance, so you’re less likely to fall in the first place. Like all targeted exercise, today’s challenge strengthens bones by working specific muscles.
The muscle groups you’ll be working today include the following.
These muscles run along the back of your thigh. Strictly speaking, the “hamstrings” are the tendons and connective tissue that run behind the knee joint; but the term has evolved to include the muscles of the back of the leg. The hamstrings are used any time you bend your legs, especially in squat and stair-step motions.
Running from heel to knee, your calves make up the back of your lower leg. They are very important balance muscles, helping to correct your leg position to stop a fall. If you stand on tiptoe, you can really feel your calves working, and you can see how strong calf muscles are associated with stable ankle joints.
This is the muscle of your shin, which is the front of your lower leg. It runs from the outside of the knee joint, across and down the front of the shin, to the inside front of the ankle. As you probably guessed, knee and ankle alignment depend in large part on this muscle.
These are the muscles at the front of the thigh. The quads can be thought of as one muscle made of four parts or four connected muscles. They make up the primary muscle mass of the thigh and work to stabilize the knee joint. You use your quads when you step up and down or do squats. Strong, flexible quads are essential for proper balance and overall stability while standing and walking.
These run along the front of your humerus, from wrist to shoulder. Their strength and flexibility are important for strong, stable wrist and elbow joints. And they also help you right yourself if you find that you are off balance.
This is your main “bottom muscle,” and it can grow weak and even atrophy if you sit down for long periods every day, setting the stage for poor balance and misaligned pelvic bones. Because of their central location in the body, the glutes are vital for balance – in fact, they are the key muscles that allow humans to walk upright.
Savers know that the action of muscle and gravity on bone stimulates bone growth (as per Wolff’s Law). As noted above, the Complete Leg And Arm Strengthener targets key areas of the skeleton that are susceptible to fracture, especially if your bone density is low. Here are the bones and joints that are targeted, strengthened, and stabilized in this weekend’s exercise.
This is the upper arm bone. The base of the humerus makes up part of the elbow joint, while the top connects with the shoulder girdle.
The radius is one of two bones in the lower arm. It runs along the inside of your arm from your elbow to the thumb side of your wrist. Because it joins with the humerus to make up the elbow joint, and with the ulna (below) to make the wrist joint, it is one of the bones targeted in today’s challenge.
This is the other lower arm bone. It joins with the radius at the elbow, and when you rotate your hand, the radius rolls over the ulna. Together with the radius, the ulna marks the beginning of the complex wrist joint.
Your thigh bone, or femur, is brought into alignment by your glutes and quads. Working these muscles adds strength and integrity to this vital bone.
Also known as the shinbone, the tibia is one of the most frequently fractured long bones in the body. It runs from knee to ankle, and it is most commonly fractured near the ankle.
The fibula is behind the tibia, and is much smaller. In fact, its head is so slender that it does not contribute to the knee joint. It does, however, form part of the ankle joint, passing the tibia to connect at the outside of the ankle. The prominent “bump” on the outside of your ankle is the base of your fibula.
You’ll need two small bottles of water (the standard size in the U.S. is 16.9 ounces), but you can use any small bottle for this exercise. Of course, hand weights or dumbbells of any weight that’s comfortable for you will work, too.
I recommend you stand near a wall or chair so you can catch yourself as you get used to this exercise.
- Take a water bottle or weight in each hand.
- Stand with one leg behind the other, a few feet apart, with the heel of the back leg off the ground.
- Bend your back leg and go down into a lunge position. The knee of your front leg should not extend past your toes on that side.
- As you go down, bend your elbows and lift the two water bottles up in front of you (a bicep curl).
- Bring your arms back down to the starting position as you rise back up.
- Repeat the lunge and curls eight to ten times, or as many times as you are comfortable with.
- Switch sides for another set of eight to ten.
To round out your exercise session, the Whole Body Strengthener makes a good companion to this weekend’s challenge.
BMJ Review Shows That Exercises Like These Reduce Falls And Injuries
Balance is not something you really think much about until you feel it’s worsening. The process is automatic, but as we age, balance can be thrown off due to poor posture, lack of muscle tone, and other factors. Coupled with low bone density, falls can be catastrophic for older adults.
But there’s good news: balance exercises offer a huge number of benefits, among them decreased injury rates when falls occur.
According to a fascinating new analysis published in the BMJ, targeted exercise programs reduce falls by 37%, falls leading to injury by 43%, and fractures by 61%.1
In fact, the BMJ report notes many other benefits of balance exercises and exercise in general, such as:
- Greater muscle mass, which help protect bone and joints from impact.
- Stronger bones with greater fracture resistance.
- Better coordination
- Quicker reaction time, which helps you correct your position in the event that you get off balance
- Improved cognitive function
There Are So Many More Benefits Of Regular Exercise
The above list is very brief in comparison to all the benefits that exercise offers, from improved cardiovascular and emotional health to increased energy and even a more youthful appearance.
It’s easy to forget about how important exercise is when the days get shorter and colder (as they are doing now in the Northern Hemisphere). But all the benefits of exercise still hold true, whether you are outside in the sunshine or indoors in your living room.
If you have Densercise™, then you know that the moves can be done indoors or out. The moves are organized by weeks and days, beginning with Day 1, Week 1 and going through Week 4. Densercise™ is remarkably effective, even though it only takes 15 minutes, three days a week.
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Now is the perfect time to start reaping all of the incredible benefits of targeted exercise!
Enjoy the weekend!
1 El-Khoury, Fabienne, et al. “The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall induced injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” BMJ. 2013. 347: f6234. Web. http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6234