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Steady As She Goes

Hi, and how's the weather where you are? We had our first snow of the season in Boston last week. It's that time of year when the snow is pretty as it leaves a small coating of sparkly white all over everything. It feels "right" because Christmas is coming and we haven't had to deal with it for several months. By February it might not be so welcomed. By then I'll be in Oregon. Usually the winters are milder there, but with all the climate changes, who knows what I'll encounter. At least parking won't be as much of an issue as it can be in the city.

One thing I noticed a lot as I went for a walk outside on the day after it snowed ... people were walking very cautiously, especially anyone over the age of 40 or 50. There really wasn't that much snow, barely an inch, and no real ice, which can be a problem later on, yet some people looked worried and afraid as they made their way. I hear a lot of people talk about their fear of falling when winter starts to make an appearance.

Of course, wearing the right shoes or boots is important and, yes, it helps to pay attention, but that is always a good idea. As I watched people I was reminded of the phrase, steady as she goes. I had a sense of what it meant and when I looked it up it definitely resonated: "Describing someone or something that is progressing in a stable manner. This nautical phrase was originally used in reference to a ship that was sailing steadily. (Ships were traditionally referred to as female.)"

To continue the metaphor a bit, boats need a keel to keep them from tipping over. What do we have to accomplish the same thing? We have core muscles at the center of our bodies supporting our hips, abs, back, and chest. They keep

us stable and prevent falls or help us get back up if we do slip. Unfortunately, as we age, many people stop engaging or keeping those muscles strong and as people feel less steady, they start to hunch over in an effort to "protect" themselves.

Here are a few things you can do to avoid this or correct it:

  • Stand tall, engaging your abdominals

  • Instead of sitting, stand whenever you have the choice and feel yourself connect to wherever you are. Do a quick body scan, from your feet up and get grounded.

  • When you're shopping, stand tall and push the cart. Don't slouch over it and let it drag you around.

  • Indulge in some exercises. Some of the best are: the plank, bridge, and supine toe tap (a pilates maneuver). If you're unsure about any of these, you can find them on YouTube or Google "best exercises for core strength". Even better, find a fitness trainer or physical therapist that can help you design the best moves for you.

It's no fun going through life being afraid we'll fall down, especially if we think we won't be able to get back up. You can do something about that. It's not something we have to just "accept" because we're aging. Get rid of that mindset, adopt a new one, and get moving. Remember: be care-full.

Happy Healthy Habit Hump Day,


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About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

is a sassy Queen-ager whose mission is to co-create a happier, healthier life with and for others.

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