How to Add Balance Training for Seniors

When working with clients over the age of 60, balance is always a concern.  They ask me how they can work on it because they’re noticing a decline, which also means a decline in confidence and quality of life.

Doing exercises that challenge a person’s balance are scary, fact.  Nobody wants to fall, and nobody wants to look foolish practicing and stumbling as they do so.  The cold hard truth is you have to stumble as you work through improving balance.  There are reasons why over time you lost confidence and ability, same as gaining weight.  The process takes time and consistent work to improve and maintain balance.  The CDC says a person should be able to stand on each leg without falling for 15 seconds.  To assess, do a simple test by seeing if you can stand on each leg for 15 seconds without falling.  Depending on your results, it’s time to implement more work.

The brain has the ability to rebuild neural pathways as the result of varied stimulus.  This process is called neuroplasticity and is responsible for helping stroke victims relearn speech, for example.  Harnessing the power of neuroplasticity is simple and doesn’t require conscious thought and effort.  Standing on one leg and reaching above your head in a shoulder press motion for two sets of 10 repetitions, can build a new neural pathway that allows this motion to be performed easier with practice.  After a few weeks of doing this motion two-to-three times per week, you notice it is easier and have more confidence.

Let’s take this example a step further.  You have cups on a top shelf cabinet to put away.  It requires you to perform almost the identical motion that you’ve been practicing in your exercise regimen.  Now instead of asking someone for help, you put the cups away without much thought.  Balance has been restored to your life, so activities of daily living are easier and automatic.  Neuroplasticity allowed you to rewire your brain and the results are life changing.

How can you implement a balance program without feeling awkward?  Begin with Movement Academy’s Active Aging Home-Based Exercise Program is a great way.  The focus begins on balance and stability movements accessed from your phone or any device.  15 minutes a day, a couple times per week and suddenly difficult physical tasks become simpler, guaranteed.  You don’t have to worry about what to do next because the program automatically progresses and challenges you with updates each month.  No embarrassing time spent at a gym necessary.  Soon your friends notice a change in your attitude and a renewed confidence.

If for some reason you’re still afraid to use a home-based program, try standing on one leg for the CDC required 15 seconds.  Practice it multiple times a day per leg.  You will get better over time and with consistent effort.  If you’re an experienced gym goer, do some of your standard exercises on one leg.  You may need to reduce the weight you use at first.  The added difficulty helps your proprioception, which is how your body reacts in various spatial environments.  For example, do dumbbell biceps curls standing on one leg.  Do one set on your right, then one on your left leg.  Any small change the body must adapt to makes a big difference and improvement!

To get your first month 50% off for the Active Aging Home-Based Exercise Program, enter code BRAIN at checkout.  Go to Movement Academy and get started today!

Need Better STEM Scores? Educate Your PE Teachers

What are two simple methods to improve STEM at your school?

More daily physical activity and physical education.

The answers may surprise you and I bet you thought they are spending more classroom time and maybe a curriculum upgrade of some type.  While I can’t vouch for any particular STEM program, I can definitely vouch for less time sitting in class!  A natural hormone that aids in memory recall cannot be produced in a lab and by sitting in class for long periods of time.  The hormone is called BDNF, and it is only produced when a person’s heart rate is elevated over 70%.

So much time is spent by schools working on STEM that basic health is put aside for fear scores will decrease and funding dries up.  To quote a student from Colorado when asked about sitting for long periods in class, “I feel tired and bored which makes it hard to pay attention.” – Kierstin G., 4th Grade.  Do you think she’s unique in her viewpoint?  Likely not.  What happens after a break to move around?  “When I have had a movement break, I feel READY TO LEARN!” – Kierstin G., 4th Grade.  Again, do you think she’s the only child to feel this way?  Likely not.

You have felt the same way sitting in laborious meetings that seemingly never end and accomplish little to nothing.  You’re a human the same way Kierstin is, and your biology operates the same also regardless of age.  For Kierstin to excel at STEM, have her take active breaks.  BDNF production leads to improved academic performance and faster speed of processing information by increasing brain cells in the hippocampus.  Staring at a screen listening to a teacher lecture on and on becomes the Peanuts cartoon with Charlie Brown sitting in class!  Yes, you know the sound the teacher makes, to Kierstin it sounds identical.

Experiments and studies have been done to find methods for reproducing the BDNF effect without the physical stimulation from exercise.  To date, nothing but physical exercise can produce BDNF.  The CDC states: “For children ages 5 through 13, the evidence indicates that both acute bouts and regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity improve cognition, including memory, processing speed, attention, and academic performance.

Why do I know these facts and PE teachers, classroom teachers, and principals don’t?  Professional and personal development.  Investing into professional development seminars for PE teachers can dramatically improve STEM scores because they provide the knowledge and aptitude for increasing BDNF.  A well-trained PE teacher can make the difference between a school district receiving a C and a B on a state evaluation.  Almost seems contrary to what school leaders believe because it’s not sexy and follow “traditional guidelines”.  If you want to be technical, educating women wasn’t part of “traditional guidelines” either in the past.  Look how society has improved now from that change.

Money is available in each school district from ESSA Title IV funds for health and physical education.  Use those funds productively be providing professional development for PE teachers.  When people feel valued, they perform better at their jobs.  It’s a common fact in all industries.  The problem is PE is often neglected so the PE teacher goes through the motions without much effort.  The results are obvious both ways in the attitudes and behaviors of students.  Take a chance in 2020 and conduct a few dedicated seminars for PE.  Your test scores and behavioral problems will improve, I guarantee it.

For information on conducting PE specific professional development, contact me at mpeale@movementacademy.net.

Who’s In Charge of Professional Development for PE? Nobody?

“Hi, I’m calling to find out who books PD seminars for physical education?”

“Good question! We really don’t have PD for our PE teachers.  We need to but hasn’t happened in awhile.”

The conversation is all to common for a majority of school districts.  Investing professional development funds into PE teachers is a great idea on paper only.  The practice of continuous investment into the physical health of students is more a fantasy than reality.  All the money is fed into “classroom” subjects because that is how kids get smarter and have higher test scores, or so school leaders think.  Sick kids who miss class because of poor health habits that aren’t taught in school definitely don’t have higher grades and scores.  Kids with behavioral problems because they’re forced to sit for long periods of time also don’t have higher test scores and grades.  Students who drift off from lack of focus due to sitting all day also don’t seem to achieve higher scores and grades.

PE teachers who receive investment produce a higher quality child because they know how to stimulate a child’s body and brain.  Just like the other subjects, teachers with ongoing education are better equipped to give the knowledge, level of attention and care, and dedication required for schools to receive funding from high test scores and academic performance.  Math teachers aren’t sent to a corner of the school to figure out how best to overcome a lack of equipment and motivation in their department.  PE teachers are, and I have seen it first-hand.  If parents knew the truth, they would be outraged.

Schools say the need evidence-based programming to justify spending money.  With the CDC providing a mountain of evidence regarding the positive correlation between 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on a child’s cognition, why is it being constantly ignored by school leaders?  Educating the physical education specialist at a school is a priority to maximize the benefits a well-trained classroom teacher can provide to all students.  PD for PE isn’t about shooting 3-pointers or doing sit ups.  Quality professional development discusses SEL opportunities, assessment options, fundamental movement skills, and healthy habits.  These are just an example of what can be learned when a school district invests into a PE department.

My company provides a variety of PD topics to public and private schools for their professional development.  We have done feedback surveys to ensure we hit the mark and aren’t wasting time and money.  The PE teachers are so grateful to have the seminars, even if they do nothing immediately with the info.  It refreshes their soul and gives them a glimmer of hope their school leadership give a damn about them.  We never know what piece of information or motivation makes a difference, and likely never will.  The faith in each teacher we speak to, that they will institute some positive change to benefit their students that keeps reaching out to more school districts.

People that feel appreciated in their jobs put forth more effort, regardless of the job and conditions it’s in.  On the flip side, yes there are more mediocre and bad PE teachers out there then good ones because of lack in accountability.  Give the teachers appreciation, love, and accountability like other subjects, and watch them grow as people and true educators, I guarantee it!  For more info on our professional development seminars for PE, please email Matt Peale, mpeale@movementacademy.net.

How Often Are Seniors in the ER for Falls?

From experience as a personal trainer working with people over 65, reducing their chances of falling is a priority in their lives.  They all know a close friend or family member who has fallen and taken awhile to recover from it.  When you’re in your 30’s and 40’s, you take balance for granted even though you don’t do anything specifically to practice it.  I also know this because I have clients in this age bracket who have these assumptions until they do exercises requiring some dexterity and realize they don’t have it.  When you don’t practice or do anything in daily life that requires balance, you lose the skill.

What do you think is the top reason older adults go to the ER?  Yes, you guessed it, fall related injuries.  The CDC says every 11 seconds an adult over 65 is treated for a fall injury in the ER.  Wow!  That’s mind blowing!  In the length of time it took to read the past few sentences, someone across the country was treated for a fall injury.  Are your parents or grandparents next?

A fall is a physical trauma to the body.  Depending on the severity, you have a bump, bruise, or scrape, and on up to broken bones and torn connective tissues.  As someone in their 40’s, I take recovering from an injury for granted that I’ll be fine in a few days or a week.  Adults over 65 who don’t exercise are more brittle and usually have a host of other health issues that take bodily resources from the healing process.  Blood flow is not great, lung capacity reduced, and muscles are atrophied.  The simple math equals difficult if not ever a full recovery.

Hopefully you don’t frequent the ER for yourself and your family.  The next time you’re in there, notice the ages and causes for their visits.  See if the CDC stats are true.  Still seems daunting that every 11 seconds someone is treated in an ER.  Falls can cause infections from cuts and scrapes that blossom into other areas of the body.  Maybe you take for granted your body heals, but it doesn’t for older people not healthy.  Is your father or grandfather still climbing ladders and hanging precariously from rooftops, especially hanging Christmas lights and decorations?  The odds are not on their side for getting down safely!

Encourage your older loved ones to invest in themselves by being more aware of their capabilities this holiday season, and every season.  Falls happen in seconds without warning and the consequences can be deadly.  Talk to them about getting help with some of the tasks they are shaky at.  Have the hard conversations they need to exercise and include balance training with it.  It’s not about riding a unicycle and juggling chainsaws.  A simple walk down steps on a dry surface that ends up with an injury.  Get everyone to the dinner table on Christmas without incident, and Christmas will be merry and bright!

For more help, purchase the Movement Academy Active Aging Home Exercise Program for only $14.95 a month.  Enter code BRAIN at checkout and get 50% off for your first month.  It’s a miniscule price to pay compared to thousands in medical bills!  Click HERE to get started NOW!!

How To Incorporate Physical Activity Into The Classroom

Classroom physical activity.  Besides kindergarten, classrooms are made for sitting at a desk or table listening to the teacher give the lessons.  Any type of situation involving the movement of students is heavily frowned upon by teachers, principals and most parents.  More seat time means higher grades, test scores, and less behavioral problems….so thinks an overwhelming majority of “the educated”.

Besides being outside the currently accepted norm for administering lessons, teachers are very reluctant to institute classroom activity because they don’t know how and/or don’t believe in its beneficial effects because of previous biases.  Professional development seminars are the standard method for delivering new information to teachers.  An area in need for these seminars is in how to include physical activity into the classroom.  Once teachers are shown and practice physical activity ideas, they are more comfortable implementing them.

When you break the subject down, there are only two ways to implement classroom physical activity:  as separate breaks or built into a lesson.  To add to the simplicity are two packages of programs:  custom made by the teacher or purchased from a company like Movement Academy.  Obviously, there are multiple options within these four basics, but it begins with a small number of options.  Once you choose how to implement, choose what programming type to use.  From there, teacher biases and preferences come into play heavily, and professional development/in services are the vehicle to learn about the how and what.

The most effective way to implement classroom physical activity is through a unified program and approach all teachers have access to.  Students adapt the appropriate behaviors and get in rhythm with the program like any other program a school uses.  Less disruptions are had, and everyone involved becomes accustomed to the flow whether they teach math, science, or history.  Personal bias and choice are eliminated because it is a policy to use a specific program, like a specific math textbook instead of allowing teachers to choose their own textbooks.  The schools that institute this method have the most success compared to schools that allow free choice.  St. Vrain Valley Schoolsin Longmont, CO, are an example of this system.

Regarding the how, again there are two methods:  as part of a structured lesson plan and in short breaks between lessons.  Is one better than another?  That depends on a personal preference.  The CDC says every child needs 60 daily minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.  The don’t specify it has to be in a break or as part of a school lesson to aid in the accumulation of the time.  Some schools have stand up desks or bicycle desks students use to aid in achieving the 60 minutes.  All of these are perfectly acceptable to use and don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  A school can have breaks, build it into lesson plans, and have stand up desks.  The CDC set a minimum not a maximum on how much physical activity kids need daily.

If physical activity breaks are the method you want to go with your school, Movement Academy provides an age appropriate solution for you.  As students advance, they become more aware of their bodies and more embarrassed to do things like dancing and jumping around to music.  Our Active Classroom Program is web based and follows SHAPE America Guideline 1 for movement.  It is a great complement to your existing PE program as it ensures all state standards are also followed.  No child is embarrassed having to dance and hop around to silly music and themes.  The teacher can create a short playlist to show on the classroom screen for all students to follow and take the guesswork out of what to do.  Students in middle and high school can also use the program in their classes and feel confident in performing the exercises at their desks.  In 3-5 minutes, students regain their focus, have fun, and create the environment for higher grades and test scores.

Watch a brief demo of the program by clicking HERE.  If Movement Academy’s Active Classroom Program is a fit for your school, please email me at mpeale@movementacademy.net.  You could qualify for 50% off starting in January.  What you have you got to lose?  Only continued average and below average performance.  It’s up to you!

 

How to Participate in Active Classrooms Week December 9-13

Active Schools US is an amazing organization dedicated to promoting more PE and physical activity in schools across America.  I’m honored to sit on a work group that helps develop marketing for promoting campaigns regarding these important issues.  December 9-13 is Active Classrooms Week by Active Schools US.  It is dedicated to incorporating more physical activity into regular classrooms for all grade levels.  The best part of the campaign is that it’s free to participate!

An overwhelming majority of classroom teachers and school principals are fearful of introducing physical activity into standard classes.  While evidence confirms the contrary, current school practices frown on PE, recess, and anything that takes a child out of a desk.  Active Classrooms Week is the perfect opportunity for schools to experiment with various ways of introducing techniques, programs, and methods of including physical activity into normal classroom tasks.  Active Schools provides an online toolkit to help parents, teachers, and administrators have an enjoyable experience during the week.

A teacher and principal’s previous experience as a child with PE and recess play a vital role in why and why not, their school or class institutes physical activity.  These biases also include their current fitness level, lifestyle, and attitude on the importance of health in their own lives.  People do not like change as a general rule.  Starting this type of a program can be overwhelming to those who have unhealthy lifestyle habits.  What better opportunity than to learn and participate with their students in being more physically active.  The benefits of more physical activity are not limited to children.  Adults reap the results of physical activity in the same way with improved attendance at work, lower health costs, and less behavioral issues.

Why participate?

  • Active Kids Learn Better. Movement increases brain function. Physical activity increases blood flow which brings more oxygen, water and glucose to the brain and improves concentration. Physical activity also increases endorphins, which have a positive effect on mood.
  • If a child is sitting too long, they are missing out on vital movements that could help them learn.
  • Classroom physical activity helps K-12 students feel better, work together as a team, reduce anxiety and maintain focus.
  • Classroom teachers can contribute to their students’ need for the nationally recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day while simultaneously teaching and reinforcing academic concepts

Active Classrooms Week is also about community and sharing what you’re doing with others for motivation and inspiration.  Use #ThisIsYourBrainonMovement for all social media posts and tag Active Schools US whenever possible.  Old fashioned and grassroots methods of telling others can create fun and maybe friendly competition throughout the week.  Any school public or private, and all grade levels are welcome to join in.

If you’re not sure what to do, Movement Academy is offering FREE use of it’s Active Classroom Program for the week to any school that asks.  Email me, Matt Peale, at mpeale@movementacademy.net and I’ll set up your school with no obligation.  I believe in the science behind physical activity and movement both as a certified personal trainer and as a father.  Don’t let excuses exclude you and your school from taking the next step to enhance test scores and academic performance.  Active Classrooms Week December 9-13 is the difference maker for all students.

How to Reduce Risk Factors for Dementia

One of the disadvantages of getting old is the increased risk of dementia. We find ourselves forgetting things that once would have been a normal part of recall. But there are things you can do to help reduce the risk of dementia. These include keeping active, eating healthily and exercising your mind.

Keeping Active: It is a common belief that aerobic exercise, in and of itself, is sufficient to help maintain cognitive abilities. It is certainly beneficial, but research has shown that incorporating different forms of exercise stimulates different parts of the brain. A comprehensive exercise program is the most effective way to reap maximum cognitive benefits from exercise. Each workout should include aerobic exercise, both moderate and higher intensity. But the workout regimen should also include coordination exercises, resistance training, balance exercises, flexibility exercises, and strength and agility exercises. This combination of exercises has been shown to improve neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to regenerate neurons lost through the aging process or trauma. The brain is a remarkable thing and stimulating all spheres of the brain is the best way to keep it in shape.

Healthy Eating: A balanced diet can also help to prevent the onset of dementia. Some simple rules are to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day:  eat proteins at least twice a week; limit the intake of sugar and salt; eat less saturated fats; and stay adequately hydrated. A commonsense approach to eating can prove extremely beneficial without the stress of “dieting.” It is also important to not smoke! Smoking can restrict the flow of blood to the body, which is a bad thing!

Exercising Your Mind: Keeping your mind active is likely to reduce your risk of dementia. Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease. One way to think about it is ‘Use it or lose it’.

Find something you like doing that challenges your brain and do it regularly. It’s important to find something that you’ll keep up. For example:

  • hand-eye coordination exercises
  • learn a new language
  • do puzzles, crosswords or quizzes
  • play card games or board games
  • read challenging books or write (fiction or non-fiction).

Talking and communicating with other people may also help to reduce your risk of dementia. Make an effort to keep in touch with the people who are important to you, such as friends and family.  Volunteering, or joining a club or community group are also good ways to stay socially active.

At Movement Academy, our focus is on providing an easy to use home workout regimen that stimulates both mind and body. For more information, contact us at info@movementacademy.net.