Work/life balance gets most of the attention in our always-on world but there’s another kind of balance as important.
And I’m a bit obsessive about the other kind.
The kind of balance that keeps us upright, able to get our groceries out of the car or the shopping cart, do yoga, and prevent that dreaded broken hip.
According to the National Institute of Aging, “More than one in three people aged 65 years or older falls each year. The risk of falling — and fall-related problems — rises with age.”
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, but falling — like age related decline — isn’t inevitable. Let me ask you, what are you doing to counter the effects of aging on your balance?
I am here to help but before we get to the balance test — I’m a test don’t guess kind of gal — here are a few things that contribute to loss of steady on your feet.
- Some medications
- Hearing loss
- Poor eyesight
- Back, leg or foot pain
- Loss of muscle tone
- Diminished signaling from the brain to our nerves, limbs, and muscles
This article focuses on improving balance.
There are two parts to balance, static and dynamic.
Static balance is upright, standing in one place.
Dynamic balance involves momentum and resisting momentum.
It allows us to stop our body from falling once it slips and prevents a face plant when we trip.
The better your static balance, the better your dynamic balance, and it’s something you can improve at any age.
The video below is OLD! But it gets the job done and I promise to up the vid game going forward.
In the video, I’ve demonstrated two simple exercises that will show you where you are on the scale of good balance or needs improvement. And how you improve, like everything else in life, is practice and consistency.
You’ll need a timer, or a friend with one. If you are not steady, stand near a chair, banister, or wall for support.
Stand up straight, fold your arms across your chest, lift one leg. See how long you can hold it off the floor. You needn’t hold it up high, just off the floor.
Do that 3 times on one leg then the other.
Take the average of the 3 trials to get your # of seconds.
Start the same as in #1 but this time close your eyes — no need to fold your arms — then lift one leg.
I think you’ll find it’s much more difficult!
It’s easy to see how diminished eyesight then might impair our balance.
Here are the average times for the decades as measured by those statisticians who measure this kind of thing.
- One leg, eyes open, arms crossed:
Age 30 60 seconds or more
Age 50 35 seconds
Age 60 27 seconds
Age 70 17 seconds
- One leg, eyes closed:
Age 30 30 seconds
Age 50 10 seconds
Age 60 7 seconds
Age 70 5 seconds
So, how’d you do?
No matter where you are today, you can increase your balance stamina, as I’ve named it. One of the things experts say contributes to falls is the fear of falling. If we move in ways that keep our muscles toned and our balance strong, we will have less reason to be fearful of doing everyday things like navigating an icy walkway or walking down stairs.
Aging may not be for sissies, but it doesn’t have to be scary.
Now, go make like a flamingo and practice.