Flexibility can be evaluated by flexing your shoulder,
i.e. maintaining a standing position, with arms naturally perpendicular to the ground, and raise your arms upwards with the shoulder as the pivot point. If you can reach 180 degrees (arm perpendicular to the ground), it shows evidence of good flexibility; if you can reach less than or equal to 90 degrees (arm parallel to the ground), it is a sign of weak flexibility.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: Emphasise on stretching the shoulder, waist and lower body limbs to improve flexibility. For example, when seated, extend both thighs vertically, and use your hands to touch your toes. Hold for 10 seconds. Control the intensity of such exercises based on your body’s pain sensors to prevent ligament injury.
2 SKIN ELASTICITY
Skin elasticity is one of the indicators to measure the extent of human ageing. You can use your thumb and index finger to pinch the skin on the back of your hand. Hold in that position for 10 seconds before letting go and observe your skin’s elasticity reaction. The longer time taken for the skin to retract to its original position, the weaker the skin elasticity and the older a person will seem.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: To protect the skin, avoid burning the midnight oil, smoking and frequent drinking. Working people today are under a lot of stress, which means they need to maintain even better lifestyle habits. Other points to note include taking care of sensitive areas, applying sunblock and moisturising cream.
Detailed assessment: Put both hands at the waist, with both
eyes closed and one leg standing, with the other leg either raised or lowered. Once the standing leg moves or the other leg touches the ground, the assessment ends. Conduct the assessment twice and take the longer timing as the final result. For males above 30, a timing more than 20 seconds shows good balance, whereas a timing more than 17 seconds shows the same for similarly aged females. If the timings are below 10 and 8 seconds respectively, more balance training is needed.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: Besides practising the above action, you can also walk backwards or catwalk to improve balance. Those with the means can even use a balancing plate and practise each action three to five times, each time at one- minute durations.
Research has shown that a healthy 40 year old man should be able to walk 3 km within 28 minutes. This s equivalent to walking 134 steps every minute. Additionally, 50m shuttle walks can also be used to test stamina. Complete the shuttle walk at 3 times your normal speed. If you were unable to complete 400m within 6 minutes, you probably need to enhance your stamina training.
XPERT’S SUGGESTION: Slow jogs, brisk walks, and swimming are all good choices, amongst which brisk walking with a walking stick enhances arm action and burns more calories, thus having a better effect. You are recommended to do stamina-building exercise for at least half an hour, three times a week.
5 LEG STRENGTH
Females can assess their thigh strength via the leg lifting exercise. Lie down flat on the bed and place both legs together, extended. Lift them up vertically until they are 45 degrees from the ground before returning them to the original position. If you can do 30 sets of this within 1 minute, you have excellent leg strength, whereas any score under 10 sets means that you require strength training.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: Doing standing leg lifts, standing leg kicks, and kicking chapteh, can improve thigh strength, coordination and flexibility of the body.
6 HEART FUNCTION
Another important indication of health is the heart rate. Assessment method: In a quiet environment, press your finger against your pulse to calculate the pulse rate per minute. Many research findings show that a heart rate that is too fast or too slow will increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or even death. The ideal heart rate is 60-75 beats per minute.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: Cultivate the habit of taking note of your heart rate. Consciously monitor your pulse when you wake up, when your chest feels taut and after intense exercise. If your heart rate tends to be too high, you
should go to the hospital for related check-up. Additionally, you must also be persistent in exercising regularly,
eating healthily, controlling alcohol and tobacco intake, and maintaining a calm mindset.
7 Ageing Well FEATURE
LUNG FUNCTION Our lung capacity starts to decrease year on year after 35 years old. You can assess your lung capacity by climbing the stairs. If you can climb 4 flights of stairs consecutively and still maintain almost normal breathing, your lung capacity is fine. If breathing difficulties or heavy panting occur, you probably need more exercise and lung training.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: Jogging, brisk walking and swimming are all good ways of training, and you can also consciously practise aerobic exercises like yoga and qigong etc. Breathing adjustment method: Find a surrounding with fresh air and inhale slowly for 4-5 seconds to allow the lungs to take in enough oxygen. Then, exhale slowly. Practise this for 5-8 minutes. Alternatively, small activities such as blowing balloons and candles are also good ways to increase lung capacity.
Memory decline tends to set in faster for males than females. It is a natural process for memory to deteriorate with age. This tends to get noticeably worse as we reach our 50s, as the likelihood of cholinergic dysfunction, beta-amyloid deposits, hippocampal neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques in the brain cortex increases, blocking memory connections and decreasing memory function.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: More memory-strengthening exercises like chess, slow jog and brisk walk, identifying music, completing jigsaw puzzles, solving rubik’s cubes, guessing riddles and working your fingers are also good for improving blood circulation in the brain.
9 REACTION TIME
Being one of the basic human responses, reaction time mainly assesses the duration of time taken from receiving
a signal to producing a response. The simplest assessment method involves the “test-giver” placing a ruler against the wall and releasing the ruler suddenly. The test-receiver will have his/ her hand placed 20 cm away from the end of the ruler, and will immediately react to the falling ruler by pressing it against the wall. Measure the distance that the ruler has travelled; the shorter the distance, the faster the reaction time.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: Such reaction time will weaken naturally with age, but we can delay the onset of such deterioration through scientific training, and among which, ball games and racket games are most suitable. Examples include badminton and table-tennis.
Healthy hearing ability is defined as the ability to hear sounds within 20 decibels in a relatively quiet environment. Generally speaking, our hearing ability diminishes after middle age,but with the modern lifestyle, many young people also experience hearing difficulties. If there areevident signs of hearing deterioration, you shouldseek medical attention immediately. If you cannot hear properly while interacting with many people in a relatively noisy environment, you might be suffering from hearing problems.
EXPERT’S SUGGESTION: Alpa-Lipoic Acidis an antioxidants that helps improve hearing. Take 150 mg a day of alpha-lipoic acid. Also, take recommended dosages of vitamin C and E everyday.
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