Simple ways to age more nimbly

People sometimes get a little intimidated by the juxtaposition of the words karate, exercise and older citizens. No need to be worried. Karate or other forms of exercise can be pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

For instance, one very popular piece of advice for new students to my class is:

“Do not ever, ever lean on the shopping cart at any store. Put your hands, not arms on the handle, and push the cart while walking in an upright position. This has a positive effect on the neck, shoulders, upper arms, wrists, back, stomach, hips and knees.”

Other little sneaky tips to add just a bit more movement or balancing techniques to change up our comfortable, easy (or possibly lazy) habits:  

  • Keep the everyday table knives, forks and spoons in a lower cabinet drawer. Voila`! Bending and stretching exercise in the morning.
  • Keep the coffee cups on the next higher shelf. More stretching, do you see.
  • While sitting on a favorite comfy couch, turn your chin to point to the right. Hold for a few seconds, face forward, then turn to the left. Try to look over your shoulder. Be very careful not to move any other part of your body, especially the shoulders. Doing this once or twice the first few days will suffice. Add reps as needed. This helps big time for keeping the neck flexible. Very useful when changing lanes while driving.
  • While holding the counter top with both hands, stand on one foot. Now change over and stand on the other foot. Easy. Now turn to the side and with one hand on the counter top lift your knee as high as you can. Now turn to face the other way and lift the other knee. Do this again, but swing your leg and wiggle your foot. Now do these easy sounding exercises with your eyes closed if you feel comfortable. Do not let go of the counter.

These simple acts not only help physically, but the psychological boost to one’s self-esteem is truly astounding.

Go ahead. Try it. It’s free. It’s easy. It contains no calories. It’s a door opener to better mobility, better balance and a smidgen more exercise. All positives.

Darlene Hodge is a Minnesota senior, karate instructor and author. She lives in Angora, Minnesota.

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