- Strength – Do you have the strength needed to do all the activities you want to do?
- Mobility – Do you have the mobility needed to do all the things you want to do?
- Balance – Can you confidently move on all types of surfaces? E.g. Slippery floor, uneven surface, standing on a bus/ train/ ferry.
- Agility & Coordination – Can you easily navigate your environment and negotiate obstacles?
- Options – How many ways can you do one movement? Stairs: Walk up stairs 1 step at a time, alternating step, 2 steps at a time, running up. Sitting: Sit on the floor, sit crosslegged.
- Confidence – Do you move with confidence? Do you hesitate? Do you avoid certain surfaces, terrain, paths, movement?
- Distraction – How well can you manage distraction to movement? Do you struggle in a busy environment? E.g. In a noisy environment, moving people/ traffic/ lights, under low light or in the dark.
- Freedom & Choice – Can you participate in all the activities you desire for life, work, sports, leisure?
- Energy & Ease – Is movement exhausting or can you easily manage it all? How easily can you move? Does movement require a great effort?
- Activity of Daily Living (ADL) – Can you independently manage all of your ADLs such as dressing, cooking, housework, personal hygiene?
- Pain – Do you regularly have pain with movement?
- Fall – Do you fall? Are you concerned about falling?
The reason I’ve asked you is because I firmly believe movement declining with age is a myth, movement will only decline if you let it. I believe most people have come to life with an A in movement. Look at children, they are limber, energetic, and agile; they run around, kick their legs, jump on things without hesitation or reservation, and they bounce right back when a movement doesn’t work out and try another way. They readily and easily assume a diverse range of shapes. How many cute videos are on YouTube with kids falling asleep in the most unusual positions leaving adults to wonder how they could possible be comfortable? They are comfortable because they thoroughly own an A in movement. When you haven’t rock an A in movement in years, it can be hard for you to fathom the freedom and possibilities. The thing is, movement never used to be a concern for you, you just did it.
“Movement declining with age is a myth, movement will only decline if you let it.“
You once had these abilities, most people were born with these movement abilities, most of us have come to life with an A in movement! Then you grow up and stop playing, you fit yourself into an increasingly sedentary world, you become too busy with life and chasing your dreams, you conform to “proper”, “appropriate”, “lady-like”, “grown-up” behaviours, silly societal expectations that are neither conducive to good health nor friendly to the human body that is very much designed to move! Things continue a slow downhill slide year after year and eventually things start to hurt and you write yourselves off and resign to “being old” at age 30. Seriously? Are you really happy with that?
I think a big part of this has to do with what society associates with age and movement, there are deep-seated beliefs that you shouldn’t or can’t do certain things because of your age. I had a patient who was an A-grade squash player in his 60s, he told me his wife said to him “Don’t you think you should stop playing squash at your age?” I told him “Don’t you dare. You play until you drop.”
“Only 15% of Australian adults met both the physical activity and muscle strengthening activity guidelines in 2017–18!“
Movement doesn’t decline with age, it declines with disuse and neglect! If you don’t use it, you don’t get to keep your A. Keep nurturing your movement on a regular basis and you will continue to enjoy good movement and its many health benefits. It is as simple as that.
As a society, we are in dire need of a massive collective mindset shift where movement is concerned and many long-standing, silly beliefs about movement must also be abandoned. I think a very good place to start this movement revolution is to bring back Play.
“A very good place to start this movement revolution is to bring back Play.“
The importance and benefits of play in a child’s development is well documented and I believe these benefits extend to adults, too! When I took up Hip-Hop dancing years ago, I wasn’t thinking about cardio, balance, agility, I went to play and got fit from having fun. When I took up pole dancing, I didn’t think about strength training, mobility, coordination, I went to play and became strong and ripped from having fun. When something is fun and enjoyable, you just want to do it and you won’t ever consider it a chore, the fact that having fun happens to be excellent for your health is really just a very happy bonus.
Did you use to love riding your bike after school to explore the neighbourhood? Did you use to play in a basketball team? Did you dance?
Selina is a singer-composer-physiotherapist based in Brisbane, Australia. She is the director of MoveMedics and its sister brands: Voice Physio & Pole Physio. She is passionate about dispelling misinformation, simplifying healthcare, and empowering people with evidence-based knowledge for healthy and pain-free living. She enjoys running, attempting handstands, and publishes music under her nom de plume, Asirus.