BodyQuirks’ Co-Owner, Esther Bell talks about her journey with aging, the little changes we can make to take back our strength as we age and the power of whole body vibration therapy in helping to regain muscle tone, stamina, balance and agility.
After nearly 58 years on this planet, I’ve learned a thing or two about helping my body age better. I remember when I turned 40 (18 years ago!) I thought I had it all together, that my body was in great shape and that somehow it would just go along that same way for a long time.
What I didn’t know was that the corner I’d just rounded was a significant one when it comes to aging. Ah, yes, my 40’s were great, I had lots of fun but I also learned an awful lot about my body, namely that I’d need to start taking better care of it. It was a time when I began to realize I could no longer stay up all night and be okay the next day. Hell, if I stayed up past midnight, I really suffered the next day!
“The laze” and the body’s rapid decline
It was during this time that I also started noticing I wasn’t quite as fast to recover from injuries and that my joints were getting a bit creaky. For someone who was always strong, fit, and capable this was a hard pill to swallow. Now, I have to confess that over the years, I’d used my body hard, what with being self-employed and having physically demanding jobs and lifestyle was now beginning to take its toll. But it wasn’t until I reached my 50’s that I really noticed that I’d become lazy. Not consciously lazy, I was eating right and moving still but I had let the laze creep in. I was starting to use the arms of chairs to push up to get up, letting my body fall into a chair instead of using the muscles of my legs and buttocks to slowly and gently deposit my body onto a chair. I was also using hand rails for support going both up and down stairs, grabbing on to parts of my car to exit it, etc. (I think you get the idea!) And it was this secret laze that was stealthily robbing me of my muscle. Little-by-little, each time I used something for support, I was depriving my body of its innate strength.
How to get your groove (strength) back
I decided I was not ready to start relying on objects to prop me up and get me going. Though it was hard to stay present in the face of these poor propping habits, I started to make myself consciously aware in those moments, putting some thought into how I moved, even when simply lowering my body into a chair. I began to move my body thoughtfully, consciously onto chairs and into and out of cars, relying on my balance more when going up and down steps and not using handrails as crutches. As I began to do this, I was amazed at just how much I had allowed my body to get lazy and how, the more I deliberately moved in my body, asking it to step up and deliver, the stronger it got!
You see, what I hadn’t realized was that by letting these little things go, I had actually let go of one of the body’s greatest assets — it’s core. I had allowed my core to get weak and as a result my balance was now terrible. I would have to lean on things to put my pants on or my socks and shoes. But once I became conscious in those daily movements again, forcing myself to engage my core, my legs and my balance, I could feel my strength returning to me, more rapidly than with just exercise alone.
And the thing is, being consciously engaged with my body is not only good for my body but also my mind, as it can help prevent cognitive decline, shoring up the brain and boosting chemicals that support and prevent the degeneration of the part of your brain responsible for learning and memory (the hippocampus).
A little effort can make a big difference
I am determined to stay strong and in balance for as long as possible (after all I plan to live to 120, so I am not even middle-aged yet – *wink). Paying attention to how I move and to what it is that I ask of my body has made a huge difference, not only in my strength, but in my awareness of self, as I live in this wonderful body. I am blessed to have a fabulously healthy body and I’m glad I finally woke up to my responsibility to keep it healthy.
We spend a lot of time taking care of things and other people and quite often neglect ourselves and especially our bodies. And it takes very little more than the intention to change it and the ability to be mindful in your body. Remember, you can gain core strength back with the smallest intentional movements too, like putting your focus on your stomach and glutes when walking or standing, by tightening them up and holding them there. This will help to keep your muscles engaged, toned, and strong!
I challenge you to pay attention to your daily movements for just one week and see if you’ve let laze creep in, too. If you have, remember the need to continue to be present in your movements, reprogramming those cheats out and challenging your body to be strong and balanced, by demanding more of it. Make your body get up and back down again on its own, stand on one leg regularly, to test and keep your ability to balance. Tighten your core and buns to help support your ongoing strength. And for anyone, who feels they’ve let it all slip too far away and you won’t be able to get back into exercise again — don’t give up! This is one of the reasons we created the WBV Studio.
Whole Body Vibration (WBV) to regain strength and balance
The regular use of whole body vibration machines has been shown to help increase muscle tone and strength in a fraction of the time it would take you on your own. So many of our clients come to us because they just don’t have the strength or energy to even begin a regular exercise routine and they are feeling the aging process intensify, thieving away their abilities and limiting their actions. Inevitably, after using the machines, we see their habits and attitudes towards exercise and their bodies change. We see them engaging not only their long forgotten muscle groups but engaging with their body and exercise as a whole, as well as the world around them. The shift from being sedentary to being present in their bodies and in their lives, partners in their fitness and longevity. Soon they add walking, strength training and other forms of exercise to their daily lives.
While WBV can’t do all the work for you, it certainly can help speed the process along by tightening, toning and helping you reestablish your core strength and balance. It’s also great for keeping those hips strong — allowing you put off hip replacement surgery a little longer and helping you recover more rapidly if you must have it.