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The term “agility” refers to the ability to change speed or direction quickly and with control. As we age, our agility levels decrease, which makes us more vulnerable to falls. Imagine, for example, you’re briskly walking across the RV Park with a bag of garbage headed for the dumpster. Unexpectedly, a little Yorkie terrier, dragging its leash behind it, darts right in front of your feet. Without agility, you won’t be able to avoid tripping and falling over the cute little pup. The last things you need during your golden years are bone fractures from a fall. They can rob you of your mobility and your independence. Heck, they can even rob you of your life. You can combat this by keeping up your agility levels. Here are 4 exercises that can help. You’ll need something to use as markers. In the pictures, I’m using RV leveling blocks, but you could also use overturned plastic drinking cups or water bottles (you’ll need 4 items). For safety, make sure you do these exercises on level ground and wear athletic shoes (no flip flops)!
1. Out and Back:
Place 3 RV leveling blocks in a line about 8 feet apart in front of a sturdy chair. Start seated in the chair. Begin by standing up and briskly walking to the first block. Once there, quickly switch directions and go back to the chair and touch it with your hand. Without stopping, quickly turn around and briskly walk to the second block in the line. Again, quickly switch directions and head back to the chair and touch it. Repeat the pattern with the third block in the line. That’s one repetition. Repeat that 5 times. As you get more confident with this exercise, challenge yourself by increasing your speed. You can even do this jogging, depending on your fitness level. Take it easy at first, though, and make sure you maintain a safe speed appropriate for you.
Place 4 RV leveling blocks in a line about 6 feet apart. Start by weaving in and out of the cones down the line and back. Walk briskly or jog, whichever is most appropriate for you. Repeat this 5 times. You can make this more challenging by carrying two full water bottles with you as you zigzag.
3. Sidestep Shuffles:
Place 2 leveling blocks in a line about 15 feet apart. Stand on the inside of the first block. Sidestep towards the other block. Once you get to it, immediately switch directions and begin sidestepping back to the first block. Two more challenging options: 1) Make it high impact by turning your sidestep into a shuffle (looks sort of like a sideways skip), 2) Do a grapevine sidestep by crossing your trailing foot in front of the lead foot and then behind the lead foot. Whichever option you choose, repeat the exercise 10 times.
4. Agility Box:
Make a small square (sides should be about 5 feet ) with the leveling blocks. Start at any corner, standing on the outside of the square. Your goal is to keep your body facing the same direction as you move around the square. Move around the outside of the blocks clockwise 5 times and then counterclockwise 5 times. To do this, on the front of the square, you’ll take large sidesteps. Once you find yourself on the corner about to head to the back of the square, you’ll walk backwards. Now, you’ll be at the back of the square, sidestep along the backside. Walk forward until you are once again on the front corner.