Parents delight in watching their babies learn their first motor skills. They eagerly anticipate the day their baby sits up, grasps an object, stands up, and walks. Over time, however, that baby (like all babies) reaches adulthood and begins the aging process, and the ability to perform gross motor skills like balance and coordination begins to decline…unless, of course, that “baby” does something about it!
That brings us to the good news, which is that exercises geared toward improving motor skills can stave off this effect of aging and that age is not an issue to achieve that improvement, according to a European study.
In other words, your age need not hold you back from learning new skills and honing old ones. This weekend’s exercise is a very good place to start.
You’ll see that this weekend’s exercise is not particularly strenuous, but it is specific. The Motor Skills Improver focuses directly on the muscles and movements involved in balance and coordination, two motor skills that seniors need to be aware of. In fact, everyone should be aware of their motor abilities.
Research is very promising in this area, showing that seniors’ ability to retain learning capabilities allows them to “achieve considerable performance gains”1 in motor skill execution.
Motor skills are used throughout your life. The term encompasses a vast array of movement patterns, from walking to speaking. The ability to improve muscle functionality through activity is called motor plasticity. This is what you’re doing when you do targeted exercises for your bones – you’re improving muscle strength, coordination, flexibility, and more. And according to research, seniors’ bodies respond just as well as young people’s.
Interestingly, the researchers used the skill of juggling and lacrosse catching to test motor plasticity and motor skill learning in older adults compared to younger people. The ages of the study participants ranged from 6 to 89 years.
With regard to juggling, the older adults did very well at learning and refining the skills required, and their performance was comparable to children between the ages of 10 and 14. Similar results were found with the lacrosse catching: adults in the age groups of 55 to 59 and 70 to 74 reached levels of lacrosse performance similar to 10 to 14 year olds.2,3
Here’s something else that’s interesting about this study: adults in the over-80 age group showed the highest performance lacrosse catching improvements with practice.2,3
A comprehensive review of these and many other studies notes in its conclusion:
“…regardless of performance decreases, considerable learning improvements are possible in older age. The life-span perspective makes it possible to obtain an estimate of the size of age-related reductions in plasticity, and it underlines the high amount of remaining motor plasticity in older age.”1
Scientists also noticed a connection between visual and auditory input and motor skills, which ties into another study that explored cognitive function, its effect on balance and coordination, and how both of these factors improved in older adults who began exercising. To read more about this study and its findings, please click on the following link, which will take you to another Weekend Challenge that discusses the research: The Trip And Fall Averter.
Once again, the Weekend Challenges are an excellent place to start (or continue) exercises for your bones and overall motor skill performance. Here’s how to do the Motor Skills Improver.
It’s a good idea to stand near a wall, bed, chair, etc. if you’re unsure of your balance.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands hanging down at your sides.
- Bring one leg behind the other one, stepping to the side. For example, if you begin with your left leg, you’ll bring it behind and to the right of your right leg. It’s a little bit like a “curtsy” motion.
- Now bring the same leg (the left) back out from behind the right and step slightly to the left, placing your left foot on the floor briefly before bringing it forward and across the front of your right leg. Touch the floor once again with your left foot.
- This is one set; your foot will touch the ground three times in one set. Complete eight to 10 sets on the same side.
- Switch legs and do another eight to 10 sets with the other leg.
Remember, it’s fine (and encouraged) to work within your personal fitness level. If you can only do a couple of sets, that’s all right! Keep at it, and as the research proves, you’ll improve your motor skills regardless.
We suggest following up the Motor Skills Improver with these previous Weekend Challenges that target motor skills as well:
Motor Skills Matter For Preventing Falls
Improving your balance and coordination through regular, targeted exercise is an excellent safeguard against falls and potential fractures. You’ll find many such exercises in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, our exercise program specifically designed to increase bone density.
With more than 52 moves, Densercise™ helps to prevent falls by providing a variety of exercises that improve coordination and enhance balance. For example, the Romberg Exercise (page 41) and the Wall Walk (page 49) are excellent balance-improvers. In fact, all exercise helps improve balance to some degree; as explained in the introduction to Densercise™:
“In addition to conditioning your body, regular exercise improves balance and flexibility, which can prevent falls that may result in fractures.”
Doesn’t that say it all?
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Have a great weekend!
1 Voelcker-Rehage, Claudia. “Motor-skill learning in older adults—a review of studies on age-related differences.” European Review of Aging and Physical Activity. 5. 30. (2008). Web. https://eurapa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1007/s11556-008-0030-9
2 Voelcker-Rehage, C. and Willimczik, K. “Motor plasticity in a juggling task in older adults—a developmental study.” Age Ageing. 35. (2006): 422–427.
3 Willimczik, K. et al. (2006) “Sportmotorische Entwicklung über die Lebensspanne—Empirische Befunde zu einem theoretischen Konzept (Motor development across the lifespan—empirical results of a theoretical concept).” Z Sportpsychol. 13. (2006): 10–22.