This week’s quick read: your neuromotor function; basically anything related to your balance, coordination, and agility.
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We’ve briefly covered two areas – cardio first, resistance/strength training next. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the American College of Sports Medicine collaborated to create a list of 4 fundamental activities for US adults which can result in better, overall health over the long run. Our third on the list is your neuromotor function and it’s recommended you incorporate this 2-3 times each week. Neuro- (of or relating to your brain and the rest of your nervous system) -motor (of or relating to the movement of your muscles) activities require conscious practice every week to preserve or improve your brain’s sharpness.
Why Neuromotor Activity Is Important
Neuromotor exercises involve balance, agility, and coordination. When we’re younger, we tend to take these things for granted, after all, who thinks about maintaining balance while walking much less “Okay, I just put my right foot forward, now I have to put my left foot forward?” It’s just something we don’t think about.
If we participate in sports, whether organized leagues or purely for fun with our kids, we might think a little bit more about coordination and reflexes. For example, we need to be sure to get our hands under the volleyball, we have to make sure our foot connects with the kickball or the soccerball, we have to be sure the bat contacts the ball, and so on. All of these things require our eyes to instantaneously communicate images to our brain and then, just as quickly, require our brain to send instructions to our body. This communication occurs with lightning speed.
As we get older, this instantaneous communication tends to slow down; we’re not as quick to react to things and we may not be able to prevent incidents and accidents from happening as easily as when we were younger. In fact, falls are the number one cause of deaths and injuries for adults aged 65+ with a fall occurring every single second. Does this need to happen? Definitely not and there are steps we can take (no pun intended) to set us up for the long run when we’re young.
Neuromotor: Gym Membership Not Required
This will be the third recommendation on the ACSM/CDC list which doesn’t require a gym membership. Does this mean you should shun the gym entirely? Of course not, just be clear about your reasons for getting a gym membership if and when the time comes. Balance and agility activities require very little in the way of equipment and are limited only by your creativity.
Here are some examples:
- a yoga block to balance with one foot on
- a street curb to practice pistol squats
- a half ball balance trainer
- steps or stairs
- an agility ladder
- a suspension trainer
- playing catch
- shooting baskets
- a reverse lunge
- a Bulgarian split squat
- an equipment-free pistol squat
Even going for a hike is a great way to sharpen the brain/body connection. The changes in terrain from solid flat footing to sandy slippery slopes to rocks which may require minimal to increased effort will challenge not just your body, but your mind as well.
Most activity or exercise involving coordination between your mind and your body is beneficial, particularly in the long run. In our earlier years, keeping sharp will set us up for the long term by establishing and maintaining good mental pathways between mind and body (not to mention good fitness habits). As we grow older, the good habits we’ve created for ourselves will help maintain our independence and ward off potential accidents which may result in injury or death. As noted, there are a variety of activities and equipment one can use to fulfill the neuromotor requirement. Items such as the suspension trainer are quite versatile in that you can accomplish the ACSM/CDC recommendations for cardio, resistance, AND neuromotor activities.
Do you use any of the items or perform any of the exercises above? Any thoughts on how else to fulfill this recommendation? Let us know in the comments below! As always, if you have any questions or want to try out a suspension trainer in our studio, send us a message!