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How Can I Improve Coordination?

Posting Date: 07/05/2000

Q: Do you have any hints for improving coordination?

A: Coordination is one of those things we don't think much about until we are put to the test. But it is a very valuable asset, especially for older people. Maintaining coordination can help prevent falls and injuries.

Aerobics classes are a great way to improve your body's coordination. Aerobic machines such as treadmills, stair climbers, and stationary bikes, for which the movements are basically untrained and repetitive, do not require coordination. You just do what the machine guides you to do. Yes, you can get fit using these machines, and yes, you can lose fat. But you might end up as a fit klutz!

Aerobic machines train the gross motor nerves -- the large nerves responsible for ordinary locomotion. But they don't train the smaller finer nerves that help you zig and zag down a ski slope. They don't train you for the balance you need to walk across a log over a stream while carrying a 50-pound backpack. "But," you might say, "I'm not a jock or into hiking. I don't ski or backpack." Well, you still need coordination -- just to square dance or play Frisbee with your kids!

Even if aerobics classes are not your favorite form of exercise, I'd like you to try them now and then. The erratic, back-and-forth, up-and-down movements are some of the best ways I know to develop coordination. By the way, aerobics classes aren't just dance-movement classes anymore. There are athletic-step classes, adventure-training classes, and even ski-conditioning classes.

Adapted from The Ultimate Fit or Fat by Covert Bailey and Lea Bishop. Copyright 1999 by Covert Bailey, published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.