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The secret to staying injury-free as you age

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Think way back to grade-school gym class. Remember the line sprints, the side shuffles, the hurdles?

Depending on your younger self’s level of athleticism, you may have thought these drills were designed to torture you. But they were actually designed to develop your agility.

Agility is the ability to start, stop, or change direction without losing balance, control, or speed. It is not just good for children as they grow or athletes as they train; being agile is particularly important later in life.

As we age, our cognitive function declines and we have increasing difficulty focusing and balancing. We progressively lose muscle mass and strength. These factors often lead to falls. 

According to Justin Slimm, owner and operator of Slimm Fitness, 30,000 Canadians will fall and fracture their hip this year. Such serious injuries can signal the end of independence and the beginning of further health issues. In fact, almost 25% of people who fracture their hip will pass away within a year of their injury.

So how can agility training help?

Slimm says that this kind of training can improve your balance and coordination to help you avoid a fall. And if you do slip, agility can improve your reaction time, allowing you to catch yourself. 

One benefit that is not often talked about is confidence. There is huge emotional value in knowing you are capable of handling the physical obstacles you encounter. It makes day-to-day activities seem less risky. As you develop your agility, you move with confidence. When you move with confidence, you get out more and participate in more activities. That makes your world bigger and your life more fulfilling in retirement.

Want to improve your agility, but do not know where to start?

Slimm says that self awareness is key. If you have not trained or exercised in years, that is ok. It is never too late to start, but it is important to go slow. For beginners, doing agility exercises for ten to fifteen minutes once or twice a week is a good start. If you are more advanced, you can kick your routine up to thirty minutes a few times a week. Whatever your fitness level, always put your safety first.

Slimm also points out that exercise should not be put in a box. You are much more likely to stay active if you are doing things you enjoy. Think playing with your grandkids, joining a walking club, or going for a hike.

If you want to work on your agility specifically, it does not have to be complicated. Set up pylons in your living room and side shuffle between them. Try skipping rope. Make a game out of it to keep it fun.

As a former group fitness instructor, Slimm also knows the value of community to keep you motivated. Check out your local fitness studio and inquire if there is a low impact exercise class that you could join. Do some research with Calgary Sport and Social Club to see if there is a league or tournament you might be interested in. Pickleball is a great option for older adults.

Whatever you do, try to make your routine as well-rounded and consistent as possible. Slimm suggests pairing agility training with strength exercises, and sticking with your routine. 

Your health can make or break your retirement experience. Learn more about how our health bucket can help you plan for—and fund—the healthcare you want as you age.

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CIBC Private Wealth consists of services provided by CIBC and certain of its subsidiaries, including CIBC Wood Gundy, a division of CIBC World Markets Inc. The CIBC logo and “CIBC Private Wealth” are trademarks of CIBC, used under license. “Wood Gundy” is a registered trademark of CIBC World Markets Inc.

David Popowich and Faisal Karmali are Investment Advisors with CIBC Wood Gundy in Calgary. The views of David Popowich, Faisal Karmali, and Foreign Legal Consultant, Azam Rajan, do not necessarily reflect those of CIBC World Markets Inc.

This information, including any opinion, is based on various sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed and is subject to change

Clients are advised to seek advice regarding their particular circumstances from their personal tax and legal advisors.

If you are currently a CIBC Wood Gundy client, please contact your Investment Advisor.

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