When was the last time you got down on the floor and moved like a baby? We’ve all heard the saying “slept like a baby.” Maybe we should also start saying, “I really moved like a baby the other day.” Sounds weird. But think about this. We don’t often see babies or toddlers with hurt backs, tight hips and tight shoulders. Babies and toddlers love the floor.

As we get older, we tend to stay away from the floor. In fact, for many older adults the floor is a scary place in their mind. Rightfully so if we haven’t trained our body in many years to get down on the floor, move on the floor and then get up from the floor.

I teach a few classes each week on the floor with a small group of people that have grown to like the floor. The exercises we do help to stretch out and strengthen the core of our body and maintain our back health. We roll around, squat down, rock back and forth, crawl and do other fun floor exercises. If you have a baby or toddler in your family or even a fun dog, then you’ve probably done a few of these floor exercises yourself. If I happen to be off work and miss my floor exercises, I’ll do them at home because they make my back feel great.

I find myself crawling around on the floor a lot at home because of our fun puppy dog (I understand that crawling isn’t for everybody especially if you have wrist, shoulder or knee pain). If you can get down and crawl on the floor, congratulations! You’re helping your body. Here’s the health benefits of crawling, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Helping the hips. Our jobs and lifestyles make us sit more than we should. The hips muscles become inactive and tight. To help with this hip tightness, get into the crawl position and just rock back and forth to help loosen the hip muscles.

Helping the core. The core of our body is a combination of muscles. When we crawl, we are moving right shoulder and left hip at the same time. The core muscles are transferring that energy across the midline of our body and getting stronger.

Helping the hands and shoulders. Our hands and shoulder muscles were used for manual labor in the past. Technology has created machines to do this for us and now a lot of jobs require sitting and typing on keyboards most of our day. Crawling helps to keep our hands and shoulders strong.

Helping the brain. The brain tells the body to move, the body moves, then the brain again tells the body to move and this pattern continues on and on. Crawling requires both sides of the brain to work together making new nerve connections and helping the body improve coordination, learning and behavior.

So who’s ready to start crawling on the floor? Here’s to you and the floor getting to know each other!

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the February 1, 2018 edition of the Seaford Star.