FIELD OF THE PRESENT DISCLOSURE
This disclosure relates generally to exercise equipment and methods of use, and more particularly to an apparatus designed to facilitate low-impact muscle toning exercise for healthy individuals as well as those with reduced strength and endurance to stimulate the leg, hip, and core muscles to improve balance and stable mobility.
BACKGROUND OF THE RELATED ART
There exists a wide variety of exercise equipment to assist individuals build lower body strength and endurance. Some of the most popular varieties are the treadmill and the stair stepper. Treadmills typically comprise a rotating belt oriented either horizontally or at a slight upward angle creating an endless path on which an individual may walk or jog. Similarly, a stair stepper provides an endless supply of steps through a rotating device allowing an individual to continually climb. Both treadmills and stair steppers often include controls allowing an individual to select the speed or perhaps a preprogramed speed profile.
However, these popular varieties of exercise equipment allow an individual to overly rely on his or her largest and most powerful lower body muscles and do not effectively target the many smaller important muscles in the legs, hips, and core. There exists a need for exercise equipment that can effectively assist healthy individuals strengthen and tone the large number of smaller lower body muscles through isolation and resistance.
Further, individuals whose strength and endurance are reduced such that even the lightest or least rigorous settings on the more popular varieties of exercise equipment are too challenging, cannot benefit from such equipment. Such individuals may still benefit from strength conditioning and exercise but require equipment that is specially designed to provide gentler, less onerous stimulation. There exists a need for low impact exercise equipment for individuals with limited strength and endurance.
One such group is the elderly. As we age, one of the many difficulties we will all face is a decrease in strength and endurance. This is partially due to the natural aging process and partially due to muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is the decrease in muscle mass, and consequently strength, caused by reduced muscle use. As elderly individuals' strength and endurance decreases, they often become less active which compounds the issue by causing increased muscle atrophy. Many elderly individuals become less active when they feel that their strength and endurance has declined to such a point that they are no longer confident in their ability to maintain their balance and mobility in a stable manner. However, this tendency should be countered because the best way to slow or stay muscle atrophy is to stay active and continually exercise the lower body muscles that are critical to balance and stable mobility. There exists a need for exercise equipment designed to target such muscles in a safe and secure environment so as to reduce the risk of injury while remaining active.
Another group of individuals that could benefit from low impact exercise equipment designed to target the lower body muscles critical to balance and mobility are those individuals who have suffered serious injuries to the legs and/or lower back and have subsequently lost the strength for stable mobility. These individuals can benefit from such exercise equipment when they are in a weakened state and may progress toward more traditional exercise equipment as their strength returns.
The present disclosure distinguishes over the related art providing heretofore unknown advantages as described in the following summary.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present disclosure relates to an apparatus and method of isolating and stimulating the muscles of the legs, hips, and core in a gentle and low impact manner to strengthen and tone the various lower body muscles, stay or reverse muscle atrophy, and enhance balance and stable mobility.
The apparatus comprises a balance platform supported by a plurality of members capable of adjusting in length. When exercising, an individual may stand on the balance platform and hold onto a hand rail that surrounds most of the apparatus. The length of the support member may then gently adjust thereby tilting the balance platform in a particular direction. The exercising individual must then contract various muscles in his or her legs, hips, and core to maintain balance on the tilted balance platform. The muscles that contract when the balance platform tilts experience resistance stimulation under the individual's own body weight. After the balance tilts, it may then return to a level position allowing the individual to relax the stimulated muscles and then tilt in new direction.
The rate of speed at which the balance platform tilts, radial direction in which the balance platform tilts, the angle at which the balance platform tilts, and the length of time that the balance platform remains in a tilted position may all be controlled by a controller in communication with the adjustable support members.
In some embodiments the apparatus may be capable of remaining in constant motion, tilting back and forth continuously. In other embodiments, the balance platform may pause for several minutes between each tilting action allowing the individual to rest and prepare for the next tilt. The exercising individual may be able to select different modes associated with the motion profile he or she prefers. In some embodiments, the apparatus may be programmable allowing the exercising individual to create a custom motion profile.
Various embodiments of the presently disclosed apparatus may utilize different technologies to power the adjustable support members such as electrical solenoids, hydraulics, or pneumatics. The technology controlling the adjustable support members is not critical to the present disclosure so long as the support members can generate the force necessary to support and orient the balance platform.
This disclosure teaches certain benefits in construction and use which give rise to the objectives described below.
A primary objective inherent in the above-described apparatus and method is to provide low impact exercise for healthy individuals to promote stimulation of the muscles in the legs, hips, and core through resistance training to maintains and build to strengthen and tone such muscles.
Another objective inherent in the above-described apparatus and method is to provide a low impact exercise for those with reduced strength and endurance to promote stimulation of the muscles of the lower body and core to prevent muscle atrophy.
A further objective is to provide an apparatus and method of low impact exercise for individuals with reduced strength and endurance to promote stimulation of the muscles of the lower body and core to increase balance and stable mobility.
A still further objective is to provide an apparatus and method of safe low impact exercise to individuals with reduced strength and endurance to promote stimulation of the muscles of the lower body and core to assist elderly individuals to maintain and regain safe active lifestyles.
A yet still further objective is to provide an apparatus and method of low impact exercise to individuals with reduced strength and endurance to promote stimulation of the muscles of the lower body and core to assist individuals who have sustained serious injuries to their legs and lower back to regain the strength necessary for balance and stable mobility.
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the presently described apparatus and method of its use.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING(S)
The accompanying drawings are diagrams that illustrate various exemplary implementations and are part of the specification. The illustrated implementations are proffered for purposes of example, not for purposes of limitation. Illustrated elements and steps will be designated by numbers. Once designated, an element or step will be identified by the identical number throughout. Illustrated in the accompanying diagram drawings is at least one of the best mode embodiments of the present disclosure. In such drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary embodiment of the presently disclosed exercise apparatus;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the presently disclosed exercise apparatus shown with the balance platform in a horizontal position with an exercising individual standing on the balance with his feet placed in a laterally aligned orientation;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the presently disclosed exercise apparatus shown with the balance platform tilted to the side with an exercising individual standing on the balance platform with his feet placed in a laterally aligned orientation;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the presently disclosed exercise apparatus shown with the balance platform in a back tilting position with an exercising individual standing on the balance platform with his feet placed in a forward staggered orientation;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the balance platform held in a horizontal orientation by a plurality of support members;
FIG. 6 is a perspective of the balance platform in a side tilting orientation caused by an adjustment in the length of the side support members;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the balance platform in a back tilting orientation caused by an adjustment in the length of the front and back support members,
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the balance platform in a lowered horizontal orientation caused by an adjustment in all of the support members.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENT
The above described drawings illustrate an exemplary embodiment of an apparatus and method of use in at least one of its preferred, best mode embodiments, which is further defined in detail in the following description. Those having ordinary skill in the art may be able to make alterations and modifications to what is described herein without departing from its spirit and scope of the disclosure. Therefore, it must be understood that what is illustrated is set forth only for the purposes of example, and that it should not be taken as a limitation in the scope of the present apparatus and method of use.
Described now in detail is an apparatus and method of exercising the muscles of the legs, hips, and core in a gentle and low impact manner to stimulate the various lower body muscles to strengthen and tone, slow or stay muscle atrophy, and enhance balance and stable mobility.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an exemplary embodiment of the presently disclosed exercise apparatus 100. The apparatus 100 comprises a balance platform designed to support the weight of an exercising individual. The balance platform 110 is housed in a chassis 130 which features a hand rail 120 to provide extra support and security for the exercising individual. FIG. 1 depicts a docking station for a removable display. This feature allows the exercising individual to use a tablet computer as a control station and display. Some embodiment of the presently disclosed exercise apparatus may feature a permanently attached control station and display.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the presently disclosed apparatus 100 shown with an individual in position to begin exercising. FIG. 2 also illustrates a tablet computer 140 serving as a control panel. The exercising individual is shown standing with his feet laterally aligned and slightly spread apart and his hands grasping the hand rail 120. The manner in which an individual stands on the balance platform 110 can determine which of the several lower body muscles is being stimulated during the exercise.
FIG. 3 illustrates the balance platform 110 tilting to the side. The exercising individual must shift his weight away from the direction that the balance platform is tilting, thereby stimulating lower body muscles important for balance. In some embodiment the balance platform 110 may tilt as much as 30 degrees off horizontal. In other embodiments if many tilt further so long as the angle is still such that an individual can maintain traction to stand. An individual grasping the hand rail 120 with both hands and can transfer support from his legs to his arms if needed which allows for exercise in safe manner even for individuals with greatly reduced strength and endurance.
FIG. 4 illustrates the exercising individual standing on the balance platform 110 while the balance platform 110 is tilted backward. In order to counter this motion, the exercising individual must shift his weight forward thereby stimulating a different set of lower body muscles. The individual in FIG. 4 is illustrated with one foot forward in a staggered orientation. This foot position allows the use of a different set of muscles from that of the foot placement illustrated in FIG. 3. By changing foot placement the exercising individual can further vary the muscles that are stimulated by the apparatus.
FIGS. 5 through 8 illustrate the manner in which the adjustable support members 200 both support and orient the balance platform 110. The illustrations each depict a total of four adjustable support members 200 supporting the balance platform 110. It is important to note that these illustrations are for exemplar only and are not intended to be limiting of the disclosed exercise apparatus. More specifically, there may exist embodiments of the present disclosure that utilize either more or less adjustable support members 200. The number of adjustable support members 200 is not critical so long and the adjustable support members 200 can support and manipulate the balance platform 110.
The enablements described in detail above are considered novel over the prior art of record and are considered critical to the operation of at least one aspect of the apparatus and its method of use, and to the achievement of the above-described objectives. The words used in this specification to describe the instant embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification: structure, material, or acts beyond the scope of the commonly defined meanings. Thus, if an element can be understood in the context of this specification as including more than one meaning, then its use must be understood as being generic to all possible meanings supported by the specification and by the word(s) describing the element.
The definitions of the words or drawing elements described herein are meant to include not only the combination of elements which are literally set forth, but all equivalent structures, materials or acts for performing substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain substantially the same result. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements described and its various embodiments or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim.
Changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalents within the scope intended and its various embodiments. Therefore, substitutions, now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art, are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements. This disclosure is thus meant to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptually equivalent, what can be obviously substituted, and also what incorporates the essential ideas.
The scope of this description is to be interpreted only in conjunction with the appended claims and it is made clear, here, that the named inventor believes that the claimed subject matter is what is intended to be patented.