Improve Your Balance, Age Gracefully
Our ability to balance decreases as we age, but there are ways to increase our strength and flexibility. Here are seven simple ways to maintain balance.
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For many of us, balance is taken for granted until it interferes with routine day to day functions. Before balance becomes shaky and unsure, most people don’t think much about preventive maintenance, but this lack of attention could be harmful.
One in ten falls leads may lead to a fracture and other comorbidities; this statistic increases with aging. Thus, it’s increasingly important to lead an active lifestyle to improve your odds of staying upright and injury free.
Related: Don't Trip Up: Fall Prevention Tips
When was the last time you stood on one foot for more than two seconds? Try it for ten seconds then switch to the next foot. You can do this for several rotations in a two-minute tooth-brushing session.
Sit and stand
Aside from helping with balance, this acts as a leg strengthener as well. Sit upright in a chair with your knees bent in a 90-degree angle. Fold your arms in front of you, and slowly stand up without the help of your hands. Sit down gradually again and repeat this several times.
Walk the fictious balance beam
Pick an uninterrupted straight path and walk heel to toe across the floor like you are walking along a balance beam. You may feel silly, but this simple exercise can go a long way.
With your hands on your hips and your feet hip-width apart, step forward on one leg. As you do so, bend both knees until the front thigh is parallel to the floor and the lower leg is bent 90 degrees. Start with five lunges on each leg and work your way up as you gain strength.
Learn Tai Chi
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that can improve your balance. There are several different styles and hundreds of forms, but beginners can practice along with this 8-minute video.
Like Tai Chi, Yoga is a gentle way to practice balance. It also has huge benefits in strength training and flexibility: all health benefits that are extremely important as the body ages. Try this 9-minute beginner yoga session for increasing balance. If you enjoy that video, try this 35-minute lesson to increase flexibility, strength, and balance all at once.
Stand on one leg, bend the opposite leg to ninety-degrees, lift until your lifted leg is slightly above your hip, and hold for 15 seconds. During this exercise it’s important to keep good posture. You may use a wall or chair for support if it’s difficult to hold this position on your own.
While there are some aspects of aging that can’t be avoided, practicing these habits will enhance your balance so that you may avoid injury and elongate your health.