Balance is essential for maintaining a healthy and safe lifestyle. The ability to balance is a skill that we use all the time, sometimes without even thinking about it. We use our balance in tasks as simple as standing or walking. It is crucial for movement and reduces the risk of falls that can lead into injuries. Balance improves overall quality of life in Seniors1.
What can we do to maintain a good balance? A strong core is the key, as it is where our Centre of Gravity resides. It is the link between our upper and lower body, and it is involved in nearly all the activities that we perform throughout the day. A weak core can lead to some postural imbalances that can lead to poor balance. And what is the core? It includes more than only the abdominal muscles. The core contains basically all the muscles of our trunk, front and back (image 1). A strong core is important, but it is not enough. The most effective way to keep a good balance is to work on strength, functional movement, and stretch and flexibility as well.
ises will not only help enhance our balance, but will also help to keep our muscles strong, and improve bone mass and density. It is not about lifting 100 pounds but to perform simple exercises like squatting using light weights if possible to improve our balance and strength.
Moving the body helps to improve balance and proprioception2, as well as keeping a strong heart and increase bone mass. It can be as simple as going out for a short walk with friends.
Stretch and flexibility are important components for balance and stability. They also help us to move our joints freely and perform daily life tasks easily. The best part is that flexibility can be regained at any age. Stretching can also help decreasing tension and stress and relax the body. Stretching feels good!
Some of the best exercise programs for balance include Chair Yoga, Gentle Yoga and Tai Chi, as well as some exercises that include movements in different directions, specially those that mimic activities of daily living like pushing, pulling, raising, lowering and rotating. When we are starting to work on our balance, it is a good idea to begin with static and slow movements, and have a chair or a wall available for extra support. The most important is to choose an exercise program that is fun for us and we enjoy.
1. The Effect of Balance and Coordination Exercises on Quality of Life in Older Adults: A Mini-Review. Frontier in Aging Neuroscience, 15 November 2019. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2019.00318/fulls
2. Proprioception: The sense of knowing where the body is in relation to its various segments and the external environment.
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