My husband & I’ve been busy preparing as we eagerly await the arrival of our four-legged furball of happiness. While discussing the to-dos, we got talking about the notorious behaviour of these furry babies & how hard it’ll be to cope up with them. A canine’s ability to change direction, suddenly come to a halt, anticipate & change speed is far superior to humans.
Agility is defined as “the ability to change speed & direction of a movement rapidly & accurately, usually in response to a highly specific stimulus.”
My golden retriever being the stimulus for my movement, pre-determining direction & speed at which she will run would be next to impossible & so agility is an ability in unknown circumstances.
The term agility has significantly evolved & encapsulates cognitive, physical & technical factors.
Among the fitness community, agility is viewed as a skill-related component of fitness & that’s good news because skill can be learnt & improved over time. The parameters that determine agility include physical attributes like strength, power, reactive time, speed & balance. Aerobic endurance & resistance training is the key to learn & improve these attributes.
Some of us may think that agility is synonymous with athletes & sportspersons but not everyone is into sports right? Does that mean we commoners don’t need to be agile? Think about your bodily movement in the kitchen – turning around, pulling, pushing & quickly moving away from the steam without losing balance. For that matter, consider walking, jogging, taking a flight of steps, & in my case – I’ll soon be a dog walker. All of these activities demand agility!
Given the above-mentioned trainable attributes viz. endurance, strength, power, balance, etc., it’s safe to say that agility enhances a body’s ability to counter forces that can make you unstable or throw you off balance. Being agile is definitely going to ease our daily activities.
Did you know that the United Nations estimates two billion persons globally to be 60 years & over by 2050? Our physical capabilities reduce as we age. Studies have revealed that the number of falls increases by 35-45% after the age of 60 years. This is attributed to reduced muscle strength, balance & flexibility. In fact, men & women who are 60 years & above lose agility by 16% & 9%, respectively.
There are plenty of benefits associated with enhancing agility including the following:
- Better Cognitive Function: According to a study carried out by Air Force Research Laboratory the USA, after a six-week training programme for two groups, one on standard physical training & other on agility drills, there was an improvement in the VO2 max, footwork, memory & concentration in the group performing agility drills.
- Prevention of Injury: SARQ Training- Speed, Agility, Reactivity & Quickness help in improving muscular contraction & enhance the strength of connective tissues thereby minimising the chances of injuries due to rapid change in speed & direction.
- Fall Prevention: Exercise has been known to prevent falls especially in older adults.
- Improvement in Balance & Coordination: agility drills improve hand-eye coordination which enhances body balance.
A good way to improve agility is through a combination of speed training skills, coordination & balance exercises such as speed ladder, jump rope, jumping jacks, single-leg complex & twist jumps.
I’ll be sure to pull my husband to the field to try these agility drills so as to be prepared for what’s coming our way.
Author: Radhika Mandhar