FUNdamentals in FUNctional FITness
by Nikki Carrion, MA
FitXpress LLC
Join our Activity Director
Community message
board and network with
Activity Professionals
across the country. This
is a free service.
Be sure to subscribe to
Activity Director Today
E-magazine for the
latest news and more
about your profession.
Only $19.95/year
Providing Internet Resources
for Activity Professionals
in Long Term Care Settings

Copyright 2004-Present
The Activity Director's Office
All Rights Reserved

Activity Director
Novelties features
promotional materials
and gifts for you, your
residents, your facility
and your Department.
Be sure to visit.
Activity Director
Excellent Resources for
Activity Professionals
Featuring supplies for
parties, holiday
celebrations  and
special events
Click Here
Co-Owner; FitXpress
Nikki Carrion is co-owner of Fit Xpress
Consulting Services in Waterloo, IA.  
She has over 25 years of experience
in the field of health promotion and
says her passion for her work comes
from her desire to practice preventive
health and promote positive lifestyle
changes.  Although she works with a
wide variety of ages, from college
students to older adults, she says her
focus is on empowering older adults
to higher levels of functional fitness.   

Nikki has a graduate degree in
Community Health Education with an
emphasis in Gerontology from the
University of Northern Iowa.  She also
has a number of certifications
including balance training, chronic
disease self- management, exercise
for hip & knee replacements, group
exercise instruction, personal
training, yoga and pilates.


  • MA; Community Health
    Education.  University of
    Northern IA.  Emphasis in


  • Enhance Fitness Master
    Trainer ~ University of
    Washington, WA.
  • Chronic Disease Self-
    management Master Trainer
    ~ Stanford University, CA.
  • Balance Trainer ~ Cal State
    Fullerton, CA.
  • Personal Trainer / Fitness,
    Yoga & Pilates Instruction ~
    Nat'l Exercise Trainers

Nikki Carrion’s primary
passion and mission is to
empower older adults to
higher levels of functional
fitness.  Besides the Relax &
Breathe CEU module,
FitXpress has a series of
chair exercise DVDs as well
as a training module for
activity professionals.  
FitXpress methods are safe
and effective AND
demonstrate how to put the
FUN into FUNction!
For more information go to:
check out the product page.
Empower yourself with
or call 319-404-4219.  
Determinants of Physical Balance

Among older adults falls are the #1 cause of injury death, and most falls happen right at
home.  There are multiple factors and body systems which contribute to balance and
mobility, and they include…

1. Postural alignment.  Proper postural alignment = Shoulders back, with the
shoulder blades pulled back and down, chest lifted forward and the ribcage slightly
lifted.  The head should also be carried directly above the shoulders, with the bottom of
the chin parallel to the floor.

2.  Overall muscular strength is vital to balance, with the strength of lower body,
ankles and core being particularly critical.

3.  Flexibility and range-of-motion in and around the major joints is also vital,
with the flexibility of the shoulders, hips and ankles being particularly important.

4. Senses:
  • Visual system / eyesight:
  • We depend most heavily on our visual system for information about our
    movements and where we are in space.  Vision provides us with a visual
    layout of the environment around us AND critical information about
    exactly where we stand relative to other objects in our environment.  As
    we move, our vision helps to navigate.
  • Somatosensory system / touching, feeling:
  • The somatosensory system sends messages to our brain in terms of
    our spatial location and the movement of our body relative to the support
    surface beneath us and the surfaces surrounding us.  
  • Proprioceptors, which are located in the muscles and joints of our body, give
    information related to the way our body segments/parts are able to move
    together and work together as a team.   
  • What we feel with our feet and toes as we walk, as well as what we touch
    as we reach out, sends messages to our spine to help us stay upright
    as it gives us information about exactly where we are.
  • Vestibular system / hearing:
  • This system is activated each time we move our head and works in
    conjunction with our visual system.
  • The sounds we hear help us to identify where we are in space and the
    inner ear works to keep us in an upright position.
  • The vestibular system becomes particularly important when the
    information usually received by the visual and somatosensory systems
    is unavailable, distorted or inaccurate.

5.  Chronic conditions:
  • Arthritis reduces range of motion and causes pain, which restricts movement.
  • Osteoporosis is associated with negative postural changes that increase risks.
  • Peripheral neuropathy (lack of feeling in the feet in particular) result in a
    reduction in information provided to the brain which are important in terms of
    standing upright.
  • Parkinson’s disease reduces feedback to the brain which compromises
  • Hypotension and/or inner ear conditions are known to cause dizziness and often
    result in loss of balance.

6. Overall body awareness:
  • Awareness of the physical self is critical, and it is enhanced with regular
    physical activity.

After having looked over these determinants as a whole, prepare to examine them on
an individual basis beginning next month.  If your curiosity is peaked and you want to
look ahead, take a look at one or both of the websites/balance programs shown below.  
I am trained in both programs, and use the principles of them in the FitXpress
Functional Fitness DVD series available now at