A big thank you goes to Joy Karl for catching this article on FRAILTY in Apple News in January.
Frailty is considered a risk factor for the loss of functional capacity, one that impacts basic activities of daily living (BADL), that include things like “getting out of bed, bathing, eating, walking, and dressing,” and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), which includes “more complex daily chores like shopping, household cleaning, cooking, using transportation and managing medications.”
Frailty is considered a syndrome, assessed on the basis of five symptoms or parameters: walking speed, unintentional weight loss, grip strength physical activity levels, and exhaustion.
A recent research study sought to determine if each of the five symptoms of frailty might better predict the loss of everyday functioning better than frailty (as a syndrome) itself. They discovered that slowness of gait is a stronger predictor of loss of functional capacity, in both BADL and IADL, than frailty or the other four parameters.
It’s fair to ask, why does our gait speed decline as we age? Here are a number of key contributors:
- Poor posture
- Hips and legs become weaker
- Loss of flexibility
- Vision and hearing loss
- Declines in cognitive functioning
- Dizzy spells and lightheadedness
The great news is that we can act upon a number of these variables to improve our gait speed. Pilates and the training we do at the studio for clients over fifty are designed to increase your flexibility, posture, and muscular strength, especially in the lower body and abdominals.
Beyond this, you can improve your gait speed by getting outside to practice walking, which isn’t just strolling, but instead should build in speed and intensity by:
- Increasing speed for short distances
- Changing directions, sideways, backward, as well as forward stepping
- Holding items while you walk
- Increasing coordination by walking to the beat of music
- Improving agility with walking in circular patterns in both directions
I know it’s still winter, so this is a great time to work on your lower body and core strength here at Practice, but whenever the sun comes out and the ice melts, try to get some miles in. It will pay dividends for you well into the future,
Best wishes to you for a speedy February!