Sonia Gow in Hamstring Stretch

Sonia Gow in Hamstring Stretch

Wednesday, May 25, 2009 was National Senior Health and Fitness Day. As part of the celebration, Goodwin House in Alexandria, VA held their Senior Health and Fitness Day. Activities included speakers, a special luncheon, performers, and other activities. Sonia Gow, a certified fitness instructor with special certifications in older adult fitness & aquatic exercise, was one of the speakers. I’ve known Sonia for several years and she invited me to tag along and observe. She talked about reasons for falls and what you can do about it. Her company is called Flamingos in Training. Did you know flamingos have good balance? She assured us that we can, too.

She started by asking the audience of about 50 seniors whether any of them had fallen. She got a lot of chuckles.

Sonia felt that there are four reasons that people fall:

  1. External factors such as slippery floors, slippery shoes, loose clothing that catches on things, and many more.
  2. Internal reasons such as not seeing clearly or chronic diseases such as arthritis, Parkinson’s, inner ear disturbances causing dizziness or vertigo, foot disorders, lack of sleep, and many more.
  3. Medications: Older adults who take four or more medications are more likely to fall.
  4. Fear causing you to take small steps or shuffling and tendency to look down at your feet while walking.

She went on to say that the most important point is to be more active. The good news is that falls are not a normal part of aging. We need to keep moving; that’s what our bodies are designed for. She had a memorable phrase worth remembering: If you rest, you rust!img_5940-red

She talked about the benefits of being more active and she had us do a few exercises both in our chairs and standing. In her Flamingos in Training program, the exercises are designed for flexibility, strength, posture, walking, balance, coordination, endurance, agility. What’s practical about her program is that it’s designed for seniors to be able to function in every day living.

The five skills for better balance include:

  1. Walk and turn your head at the same time
  2. Extend the hip and back
  3. Reach down and pick up something
  4. Reach up
  5. Stand on one foot for five seconds, preferable 20 seconds. And if that is not enough of a challenge, close your eyes. Be sure you have something you can hold on to should you start to fall.

Sonia had her audience totally engaged in what she had to share. She ended with a demonstration of how to get up from the floor if you should fall. If possible, roll to one side first, then push yourself up and crawl to a chair or something to help you get up.

Finally, she said that falls are not inevitable and if you want to prevent them, you have to be active and practice the exercises. “Exercise is like chocolate: It makes you feel good, only it lasts longer and doesn’t make you fat.”

For more information on Sonia’s program check out Sonia’s Web site at

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Filed under: ExerciseSenior Health

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