Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that enables you to hold a steady position or move at will without falling. It’s determined by a complex combination of muscle strength, visual inputs, the inner ear and the work of specialized receptors in the nerves of your joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons that orient you concerning other objects.
It’s all sorted out in the sensory cortex of your brain. Aging dulls our balance senses and causes most seniors to gradually become less stable on their feet over time.
Poor balance can also lead to a vicious cycle of inactivity. You feel a little unsteady, so you curtail certain activities. If you’re inactive, you’re not challenging your balance systems or using your muscles. This results in both your balance and strength suffering. Simple acts like strolling through a grocery store or getting up from a chair become trickier. This shakes your confidence and you become even less active trigger a downward cycle.
Balance control also declines with age putting older adults at a high risk of falling. A fall can result in severe injuries like bone fractures that cause longstanding pain, reduced quality of life, disability, and in some cases, even death. Even the fear of falling, with or without a previous fall, can also lead to inactivity, physical decline, and a risk of life-style related diseases.
A good balance training program strengthens self-efficacy in balance control leading to improved fall-related self- efficacy, reduced fear of falling, increased walking speed, and improved physical function.
Balance exercises can help you maintain your balance and confidence at any age. If you’re an older adult, balance exercises are especially important because they can help you prevent falls and maintain your independence.
Nearly any activity that keeps you on your feet and moving, such as walking, can help you maintain a good balance. But specific exercises designed to enhance your balance are beneficial to include in your daily routine and can help to improve your stability.
14 exercise adults can do to improve balance:
- Single limb stance
- Walking heel to toe
- Rock the boat
- Clock reach
- Back leg raises
- Single leg stance with arm
- Side leg raise
- Balancing wands
- Wall pushups
- Marching in place
- Toe lifts
- Shoulder lifts
- Hand and finger exercises
- Calf stretches
Becoming more active can energize your mood, relieve stress, help you manage symptoms of illness and pain, and improve your overall sense of well-being. And reaping the rewards of exercise doesn’t have to involve strenuous workouts or trips to the gym.
You can gain the benefits of adding more movement and activity to your life, even in small ways. No matter your age or physical condition, it’s never too late to get your body moving, boost your health and outlook, and improve how you age.