Keeping your Balance as you Age

Most people don’t think much about practicing their balance, but they need to.  As we age, our balance declines if it isn’t practiced, which can lead to falls that often result in a broken bone.  Every year more than one in four people aged 65 and older fall, and the risk increases with age.  Here’s what you should know about balance problems, along with some different exercises that can help you improve it.

Aging Affects Balance

Balance is something most people take for granted until it’s challenged by a medical condition, medication, or advanced age, which dulls our balance senses and causes most senior 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.  As a result, both balance and strength suffer.  Simple acts like strolling through a grocery store or getting up from a chair become trickier.

Balance Exercises

One Legged Stands:

Stand on one foot for 30 seconds, or longer, then switch to the other foot.  In the beginning, you might want to have a wall or chair to hold on to.  Or, for an extra challenge, try closing your eyes or standing on a throw pillow or Bosu ball.

Heel to toe walking:

Take 20 steps while looking straight ahead.

Standing Up:

Without using your hands, get up from a straight-backed chair and sit back down 10 to 20 times.  This improves balance and leg strength.

Tai Chi:

Research has shown the Asian practice of Tai Chi which uses a combination of slow, graceful movements, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce the risk of falls.  Our partnership with getsetup online learning offers this class. 

See a doctor:

We do emphasize that if you’ve already fallen, are noticeably dizzy or unsteady, or have a medical condition affecting your balance, you need to see a doctor.  It’s also important to know that many medicines and medical conditions can affect balance.