The Importance of Coordination in Seniors, by Steve Benedetto
Our bodies are complex, made up of several different systems that all work together to allow us to do amazing things like run, walk, jump and just about anything else. When your body works effectively as one smooth machine it’s a result of coordination. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines coordination as “the ability to use different parts of the body together smoothly and efficiently.”
As we get older, coordination gradually wanes creating challenges with the simplest of tasks - that is unless we exercise it. There are many great ways for senior citizens to improve their coordination. Things like stretching, yoga and swimming are all excellent. Music, in particular drumming is wonderful for getting a musical spin on simple movements.
Physical coordination is essentially the ability to control our limbs to do what we want – from walking to more complex movements related to sports, fitness and other athletic events. In order to repeatedly execute a sequence of movements by our body, a lot goes into being coordinated, including our senses, joint movements, our brains and muscular contractions so that the action is as smooth and accurate as possible. Coordination allows you to simply walk correctly as you look around at your surroundings without tumbling. Coordination allows you to stir food on the stove while still reaching out for another ingredient. It allows you to walk around your bed as you make up your covers. Coordination is a basic of life and something that comes naturally to many people.
In my work with seniors, I've found that a simple drumming exercise works well in hand coordination. (The same exercise can be performed with both feet as well) When you have good coordination, your chances of getting hurt or injured decrease. Results I've found to be true in my interactive workshops. Coordination is a skill that also requires certain levels of strength, agility and balance – all working together to increase success at physical activities.
To be coordinated, your whole body must be involved. And even though much of it is directed by your brain, changes in your muscles and joints is what makes coordination possible. By practicing your total body coordination, you can improve your balance and agility, have better posture, increase your sport performance and rejuvenate your body.
As you get older, you start to lose coordination. Since coordination is required to do things like run, climb stairs, walk and continue an active lifestyle, many mature adults find it hard to even do simple things they took for granted due to a decrease in coordination. To help seniors stay active for their health, they are encouraged to incorporate coordination exercises into their daily routines. Such exercise can include balancing on one foot, tummy twists and alternating circles with their arms, to name a few.
Since the drums require more coordination than any other instrument, seniors who partake in drumming classes can help increase their coordination skills to lead an active life. Since drumming activates both sides of a human brain, it helps them achieve hemispheric coordination, where both halves are active and its brain waves are synchronized. This type of coordination can then lead to greater creativity (promotes integrative modes of consciousness). This in turn helps seniors stay sharp consciously and improves on their physical coordination.