Weekend Challenge: The Liftoff
This weekend’s challenge not only works many critical muscle groups, but it also improves your balance and your posture. It’s called the Liftoff, because in the advanced version, your arms are held outward and your leg is extended behind you like an airplane.
The Liftoff targets the back, shoulders, abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings – all instrumental in keeping your body upright and giving you a toned and more youthful look. It does not require any special equipment and you can practice it just about anywhere.
I’m really excited to share this double-duty exercise with you today, because it’s a great way to strengthen your bones while also working on your balance.
Why: As Savers know, good balance is vital to preventing falls that greatly increase the risk of fractures, regardless of the condition of your bones. In fact, a recent French meta-analysis confirms just how important balance-enhancing exercises are in preventing falls and fractures, and avoiding nursing home stays.
Interestingly, the study revealed another way in which regular exercise prevents fractures: it also improves cognitive function.
“It is therefore thought that exercise prevents injurious falls not only by improving balance and decreasing the risk of falling, but also by improving cognitive functioning, and the speed and effectiveness of protective reflexes,”1 the study concludes.
Quick reflexes can make the difference between reaching out and grabbing an object to stop your fall, and failing to react in time to catch yourself.
As you’ll practice the Liftoff, you’ll feel how this exercise effectively targets and tones key muscles groups, including your core muscles. A strong, supple core not only improves your posture; it also helps you absorb the shock if you do fall.
The Liftoff also strengthens your back, which improves posture and helps prevent Dowager’s Hump and other posture-related bone problems.
How: We’re going to begin with just one arm held out and the other holding to the back of a chair, and you can work up to the full-fledged “airplane” stance once.
Stand a few steps behind a steady chair, and then:
- Place your right hand on the back of the chair.
- Lean forward from the hips until your torso is parallel with the floor. This is called the hinge position
- Let your left hand dangle down with your fingertips pointing toward the floor.
- Now simultaneously raise your left hand directly out to your side while raising your right leg behind you.
- Your arm should end up straight out sideways, parallel to the floor. There should be a straight line from your head to your right foot.
- Stay in the hinge position and slowly drop your arm back down, and lower your leg to a few inches off the floor.
- Repeat this motion for 1 minute or for as long as you comfortably can, and then switch sides.
Advanced Version Of The Liftoff
Once you’re ready to move on to the advanced version, it’s still a good idea to have a chair back nearby, just in case.
Here’s how to do the advanced Liftoff:
- Lean forward into the hinge position.
- Let both arms dangle down.
- Raise both arms out to your sides while raising your right leg. Again, the goal is a straight horizontal line from the back of your head to your right foot.
- Lower your arms and leg back down.
- Repeat for 1 minute or for as long as you comfortably can, and then switch sides.
I know that today’s challenge will help you succeed in your bone-health goals. And please take a few minutes to share your Weekend Challenge experience with the community.
Let’s all encourage each other to build our bones, stay in shape, and prevent falls!
Till next time,
1El-Khoury, Fabienne, PhD, 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