The BESS-S Box
S Stretching and flexibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Athleticism; avoid trips and falls.
Aerobic: Improve heart and lung function.
Anaerobic: Increase strength/lower fatigue.
Build muscle; boost caloric burn.
Athleticism; avoid trips and falls.
Improve range of motion and blood flow.
These essential activities
can help increase your
fitness, regardless of age.
The key is to establish a
routine and work consistently on each category.
help anyone who may have lost these skills
because of age, injury or disability. A good example of a balance training exercise is to practice
standing on one leg. When you feel balanced,
close your eyes and try to stay balanced for as
long as possible. Switch legs and repeat. Practice
for a few minutes each day.
Endurance. For aerobic endurance my
favorites are power walking or biking (
including a stationary bike). You can also jog or run,
but the injury rate is notably higher. For anaerobic endurance I suggest stair-climbing or for
indoors a stair-climbing or elliptical machine.
For those seeking a more advanced workout:
interval training and/or sprints.
Strength training. You can do pretty well
with push-ups for the upper body and squats and
lunges for the lower, plus some core work like
planks and crunches. With many options for
range of motion and intensity, these exercises are
the real building blocks of any strength program.
Don’t forget to warm up properly, as cold muscles are easy to injure.
Speed training. This can be done in many
ways: Jumping rope, jumping in place, skipping and hopping are all excellent. Even punching movements can help improve overall body
speed. Older adults may need supervision, but
practicing both balance and speed means your
central nervous system can respond with
increased velocity, a key component needed for
improving power and functional movements
to avoid trips and falls.
Stretching and flexibility. Place considerable
emphasis on stretching your glutes and hamstrings. I also love yoga for a full-body stretch
and added flexibility. Use a foam roller first to
loosen soft tissue, then proceed to warm up
You might think, “Wow, that’s a lot of work. I
don’t want to train that hard.” The reality is, you
can pick and choose how much time and effort to
expend. You don’t have to do all of the components each day. While some of the training routines require equipment (like free weights or
stretch bands for strength training), they do not
require a gym. Some people don’t mind training
alone at home, while others want a more social
setting. It doesn’t matter. Just regularly work on
the BESS-S elements and you can improve your
fitness. What is important is trying to achieve
some sort of routine effort in each BESS-S category. And don’t make changes to your program
of physical activity or diet until you have been
evaluated by your medical provider.
The process for achieving long-term health is
pretty basic: Combine a Mediterranean-style
nutritional plan with BESS-S (see video) and,
regardless of age, you’ll be improving your fitness
levels and increasing your chances for better overall health with increased energy and vitality.
Benefits include improved strength and endurance, reduced stress and improved sleep patterns,
lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a better ability to manage your weight/body composition and better mental health outcomes, not to
mention potentially slowing the aging process and
adding years to your one and only life.
R.A. (Rich) Freedman
is an ISSA Master
coach, speaker and
author of The
Fountain of You;
(Inkwater Press, 2016;