What do you think of when you hear the word “fitness”? Running marathons and mountain climbing? Playing sports and lifting weights? Stretching and curling yourself into challenging positions in yoga class? Those activities are great, especially if you find joy in doing them. But at its core, fitness is about mobility first.
Most of our lives, we’re sold the idea that being fit involves great feats of endurance, strength, stamina, and flexibility. The stream of images in the media to support this idea is endless. But physical fitness is more than those things, and simpler.
Throughout my career teaching Pilates and other movement systems, I’ve heard countless people say things like, “I’m not very flexible,” or “I’ve never been very strong.” But often, our limited definitions of “flexible” and “strong” are holding us back from becoming just that.
Your body is a collection of integrated systems. Every system needs to show up to the party every day if you’re going to have a good time. And for those of us who have made it to age 60, I think we’ve earned our good time!
Fitness, fundamentally, is about whole-body mobility. Mobility means moving freely and easily through a full range of motion in all of your joints. When your joints are moving as they were intended to, all of your muscles are too.
Your musculoskeletal system interacts with other systems – respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and so on – to help your body do what it’s supposed to do. This is why we have expressions like, “If you don’t move it, you lose it,” and “The more you move, the better you feel.”
The good news here is that doing little things consistently can make a big difference for your whole body. As we age, these little things become critical for maintaining our mobility and continuing to do what we love to do.
Having a simple, daily movement routine to maintain mobility and engage your body’s systems is the foundation for any fitness goal. In more playful terms, we get to do bigger things if we start by wiggling the little things.
Moving in a thoughtful, balanced way on a daily basis has both short-term and long-term benefits for our health and wellness. And remember: It’s always easier to maintain our mobility than it is to regain it after we’ve lost it.
A daily movement routine:
This short video routine will guide you through three simple sets of movement to perform when you wake up in the morning that can impact your day in a big way. Or, use the guidelines below to work through the routine at your own pace. No special props are needed. In fact, you can do most of these things without ever leaving your bed.
These exercises are safe and appropriate for people with osteoporosis. Remember to move and breathe slowly, and to never move through pain. When implementing any new exercise routine, be sure to consult your physician with any questions or concerns.
For the exercises below, repeat each movement four or five times before moving on to the next one.
Lie flat on your back in bed or on a mat on the floor. Place a flat pillow or folded towel under your head to maintain spinal alignment. Close your eyes and slowly scan your body from head to toe. Take note of the weight of your body and how each part of you is making contact with the surface below you.
Ankles and feet
Head and neck
Sit on the edge of your bed with your feet flat on the ground. You can also sit on a chair or on a mat on the floor with your legs crossed. Be sure to have a long upright spine.
Hands and forearms
Shoulders and arms
Waist and hips
Stand near a dresser, table or sturdy chair for support (as needed) with your feet directly underneath you, but not touching. Notice how every inch of your feet feels. Be sure that your weight is distributed evenly between both feet.
Toes and feet
Finally, take a moment to stand quietly and notice how your body feels. Note where things feel more awake and engaged than when you first woke up. Pay attention to the spots where you might want to give some extra love and attention later in the day.
Allow yourself to express some gratitude for the body you have and what you’re able to do with it, whether that’s climbing a mountain or just moving through your day in an enjoyable, unrestricted way.
Enjoy a free trial of livestream movement classes with MOVE Wellness.
Do you have a morning movement routine? What does it entail? Have you thought about creating one? Which of the stretches listed above do you perform? Please share with the community!
Tags Fitness Over 60