Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Why Is Balance Important?

When most people think of exercising, they think of strength, resistance, cardio, HITT, core, and so many others.  They figure out how many sessions of each type of exercise so they get a good workout throughout the week.  They make sure they take care of the heart, strength, so nothing is left out but how many people think about working on their balance unless they are taking some sort of dance class like ballet? 

  Balance plays an important part in walking, going up and down stairs, and it's used as we navigate through the world around us. Unfortunately, as we age, we can easily lose our ability to balance which is not good because having a good balance keeps us from falling. 

There are several factors that impact our balance and they often appear in our 30's.  For instance, we begin to lose muscle mass if we don't work to slow or eliminate loss completely.  In addition, we also begin to experience bone lose which leads to osteoporosis when we are older.  Both the loss of muscle mass and bone density can impact our balance when we reach our 60's and 70's.

If we experience dizziness or suffer from certain diseases, we might find our ability to balance decreasing. It has been found that seniors who incorporate exercises designed to improve their balance become steadier and if they fall, they are likely to fall more gracefully, thus helping to protect from serious injury. Consequently, it is important to either include exercises specifically designed to improve balance or perform exercises that include an element that works on balance.  

It is important to choose exercises that will help our balance by working specifically on balance or improve the muscles in our core. Fortunately, there are exercises we can do anywhere to help build balance and which do not need any special equipment.  If you do any of these exercises and you seem a bit shaky, don't be afraid to lightly touch the back of a chair to help your balance.

One of the easiest exercises is to stand on one leg for 10 seconds and then change to the other leg for 10 seconds.  Repeat this exercise several times.  This is one that could easily be done while brushing teeth.  Another exercise is to walk by placing one foot down, then the next foot is put so the heel touches the tow of the first foot.  Take the next step with the foot from behind and move it in front, touching the heel to the toe of the previous foot.  Repeat for at least 20 steps.  Do this instead of walking around the house.

Another one uses a straight backed chair.  Sit in the chair, legs form a 90 degree angle with feet flat on the floor.  Fold your arms in front of you, and raise yourself out of the chair using only the muscles in your legs. Once you are standing up, slowly sit down till you are back where you started. Repeat the exercise multiple times. 

If you'd prefer some sort of organized exercise at the gym or YMCA, think about Tai Chi or a gentle yoga.  Both exercises can help improve your balance and either one is fun.  I do both plus a few others that are labeled specifically as improving balance.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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