Tagged with: aging balance exercise fitness Physical Activity
Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life, and these days there seems to be more and more evidence that the best way to achieve this is by making small lifestyle changes while you’re still young. Staying away from fatty red meat, quitting smoking, always wearing sunscreen—these are the sort of healthy habits to start practicing now if you want to improve your longevity. But it turns out there’s more to achieving a long and happy old age than simply warding off things like heart disease or cancer. A major cause of death for seniors is falling—in the kitchen, in the bathroom, even in the comfort of your own bedroom! Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do right now to make sure you won’t fall prey to this danger later down the line.
Use it or lose it: The vast majority of spills taken by seniors happen as a result of poor balance. We don’t often think of balancing as a skill that can be honed, but this isn’t the case. Just like endurance or muscle strength, a sense of balance needs to be exercised and maintained in order to stay strong. Here are some simple and effective ways to maintain your sense of balance, both now and when you’re older:
- Ride a bike: You might not realize it, but riding a bike requires a significant amount of balance. That’s why it often takes time for children to learn how to do it properly. When focusing on balance, your bike rides don’t even have to be that long! Simply practicing the skill regularly will do the trick. You might also consider trying to keep your bike stationary while you’re on it, so you can improve balancing in place.
- Do yoga: Yoga does seem to be something of a cure-all drug these days. Though it might not take you to spiritual Nirvana (at least not right away,) it will certainly do wonders for your balance. Poses “Tree,” “Eagle,” and “Warrior III” are particularly good for this.
- Walk right: Some balance exercises can be as simple as walking. Taking a few minutes with a balance beam, (or even a tightrope if you’re really adventurous,) can work wonders for improving balance. If you don’t have access to tools like these, you can still practice something called the heel-toe walk. This is just what it sounds like: take 20 steps in a straight line, rolling your weight from your heel to your toe and looking straight ahead. (This is essentially a field sobriety test.)
- Practice posture: We don’t think about it often, but the way we stand actually plays a major role in our balance. Slouching and other posture problems can actually throw off your entire center of gravity, making it much harder to keep your balance. So remember when you’re standing, walking or sitting, to keep your chin up, back straight, and maintain those neutral curves in your spine! Not only will it ease back problems, but it will help you keep your balance in the future.
Being happy, active and healthy during your old age is not just a matter of chance—much of it is up to you! By making small changes to the way you exercise, walk, and carry yourself now, you can reduce the risk of falling when you’re older and ensure that the golden years will be your best yet!
So what lifestyle changes have you made?
Here are some articles on balance:
About the Author: Elena Watson is a blogger for JustHomeMedical.com and a student at Bard College. She spends her time researching and writing about health care, particularly child and senior wellness.