Balance is something we tend to take for granted in every day life, but it is an important factor when considering overall physical health. Balance is defined as ‘an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and stable’.
As we age, balance can become a health issue, making you feel nervous about using stairs, walking on uneven surfaces or walking without assistance. It affects the seemingly simple tasks of taking a shower, sitting into a sofa or bending over to put on socks. Balance is an underpinning factor in maintaining independence and is so important to maintain and develop as we age.
Exercise is the most effective form of developing and maintaining balance into our later years. Balance training involves strengthening the muscles that help keep us stable on our feet. These include the muscles through our legs, hips and core. It is also important to strengthen our upper body muscles so we have the ability to pull ourselves up if we have had a tumble.
Balance exercises can range from yoga poses, single leg work or weighted movements such as squats and calf raises. It is important to remember that your movements should start simple and build in complexity over time. Balance exercises should be completed in a controlled and safe environment where you aren?t at an increased risk of injury.
Exercise also has the benefit of building the strength of your bones, so if you do have a fall you are at a lower risk of developing a fracture. Exercise promotes an increase in bone mineral density, which strengthens the bones and slows any progression of osteoporosis, joint pain and dysfunction.
Exercise will help you to feel more dynamic and stable on your feet, allowing you to continue with everyday tasks such as playing with your grandchildren at the park, dressing yourself and reaching for your top shelf in the pantry. It will help lower the risk of fractures and leave you feeling stronger and more independent.
Find a health professional you trust to help create a balance program to complete regularly. You should aim to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week, according to the Australian Health Guidelines.
Consistent and regular balance training will help you feel strong and independent to let you live longer and without the worry of falls or injuries.