Hi everyone! I’m Emily, a physiotherapist working at Concentric, and I wanted to talk to you about some research I did observing infants in childcare centres, looking at how they used their environment to stand up and get moving whilst I was at university.
Before we started our observational research, we went in with a few questions we wanted to answer:
- What do infants do when they start to walk?
- Do they use equipment to help themselves?
- Does their environment encourage movement?
- And lastly, how can we relate these findings to everyday life?
We spent a lot of time in childcare centres observing infants who haven’t started walking yet to see if they used their environment to help them move, and we found a few interesting things.
We found infants were more active when they were:
- Holding onto furniture,
- In solitary behaviour,
- Indoor, and
- Not communicating.
I hope some of that surprised you a little!
Holding furniture and being indoor were findings that made sense to me. Infants need the support to hold on to things, and there is a lot of indoor furniture that can help facilitate movement; such as couches and tables to help stand up, balance, and cruise. Although what was the big goal for these infants? TOYS. Infants wanted to reach up to see what awaited them above the horizon, what brightly coloured gadget was waiting for them?
But how did activity come from being alone and not communicating? We can speculate all we want about this, but I believe it was from pure focus and determination! Infants became more focused on their environment when they had fewer distractions, allowing them to concentrate more at the task at hand.
Check out a blog post that Nick, one of the other physiotherapists at Concentric did recently on falls and balance:
Now you’re probably wondering why I’m sharing this with you, “this study is with kids, what can I get out of it?”
And my answer is: “Because to get you moving, it’s all about how you use your environment!”
Research supports using your daily routine and your home environment to incorporate strength and balance exercises. Doing exercises can help prevent falls! You don’t have to set aside a certain time, just find a moment in your day where something can be a bit more challenging, like doing lunges to the bathroom!
So find a part of your day where you’re doing nothing, and turn it into something active and fun!
What is your goal? What is just out of your reach?
Want to improve your balance? Stand on one leg while doing dishes.
Want to reduce falls and get stronger? Watch your favourite TV show and do 5 squats every time a main character speaks.
Want to improve your overall fitness? Walk around while you’re talking on the phone.
Here are a few more things I want you to think about:
- Sitting for more than one hour? Get up and walk around, grab a drink from the fridge.
- TV remote too close? Keep it near the TV so it makes you get up and walk.
- Commercial break? Throw a ball around! Just make sure someone’s there to catch and throw it back
- Done reading this post? Put it down, turn some music on and dance around!
If you have any questions about balance or ways to reduce your falls risk, then feel free to contact me at the clinic.