As we age…balance becomes more important than ever before. Maintaining strong muscles and flexible joints help to maintain our center of gravity and good reaction time. Most of us don’t realize that balance also involves our sensory and motor systems. These systems include vision (for direction and motion), the vestibular system in the inner ear (which monitors motion and provides orientation clues, like which way is up) and proprioception (the ability to sense where your body is in space). If any of these systems are not functioning properly, you can lose your balance while walking or even standing up. Studies show one out of every three people over the age of 65 living independently fall at least once a year—and 10 to 15 percent of these falls result in fractures and other serious injuries which increase as people get older.
Older people often have poor balance due to loss of muscle strength and joint flexibility as well as reduced vision and reaction time. Lack of exercise, alcohol, obesity, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the lower legs, certain drugs or medical conditions can also interfere with balance.
There are things you can do to help you maintain your balance.
See your physician and have him/her check your balance.
Take more Vitamin D. Studies suggest that adequate vitamin D reduces the risk of falls by increasing muscle strength in the legs. The recommended daily intake is 600 IU up to age 70 and 800 IU for those older. People who are deficient may need higher doses.
Play on a trampoline. Balance exercises for seniors using trampolines have been shown to help increase equilibrium while decreasing stress on joints and muscles.
Try walking on cobblestones. By walking on these unstable surfaces you will be better able to break an unforeseen fall.
Stability balls are another option. Try sitting on a stability ball and lifting one leg off the ground for 20 seconds at a time.
Tai Chi and Yoga are two other ways to work on muscle strengthening and balance.
Debbie Stevens is offering 4 Saturday morning classes to help you work on your balance.
Join her Saturdays at Fitness for Life Studio on March 2, 9, 23 & 30.
Class time is 10:30-11:30am.
Fee: $40 for 4 classes, drop-in $15
or contact Debbie at: