Sure, you know how to pedal a bike smoothly and evenly and fluidly; you learned as a kid and have reinforced that neuromuscular pattern through millions of revolutions. But try pedaling backward under a similar load with those same dynamic qualities and, at least initially, you will look and feel like a klutz; the movement will be jerky and the pressure uneven, just like brushing your teeth with your opposite hand. Why? Because these new movements are foreign to your dominant neuromuscular hardwiring.

Introducing new and varied neuromuscular patterning improves kinesthesia, proprioception, and motor skills for fall prevention, and that’s just the short list. The field of neuroplasticity and neurogenesis is burgeoning and the evidence in support of safe and effective exercise is irrefutable. In other words, Just do it . . .differently!

Andy Baxter is a Medical Exercise Specialist, world champion master’s rower, founder of Baxter Fitness For 50 and beyond and the designer of SciFit’s new lateral trainer, the Side Step, which adheres to his philosophy of staying closed chain, compound, and bidirectional, while enhancing lateral strength and stability.

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