In today’s blog I wanted to share some pertinent information which hopefully will shed light on the importance of maintaining your balance. No, I’m not talking about balancing competing priorities in your life such as work and family. I’m talking about the ability to physically balance.
A few weeks ago, I traveled home to South Carolina for my Aunt Roxanna’s funeral. My aunt was 106 years old and while the occasion was a sad one, it was also a time to reconnect with family as I knew everyone would make attending her funeral a priority.
My siblings and I rented an Airbnb which allowed us to stay together for the weekend. We talked into the wee hours of the night and got up early the next morning so we could capitalize on our time together.
During the trip, one evening when I was walking in the bedroom, my right foot became lodged under my luggage. I could not pull it out. I lost my balance and fell. My sister, Correnthia, who saw me fall jumped up to make sure I was ok. I was physically ok, but the fall startled me. My sister said, “You are going to be sore tomorrow.” Thankfully I suffered no ill effects from the fall then, nor since.
I am well aware of how serious falls can be as you age. Since I thankfully escaped without injury, I wanted to share the below information on balance which were contained in an article on the CNN site (www.cnn.com) titled “Having Good Physical Balance Makes Life Worth Living.”
“Good balance is an integral part of being physically fit and key to living a long life, according to research. It’s an important issue for everyone, no matter your age.
Older adults are most affected by poor balance. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for those 65 and older, with nearly 30% in this age group reporting at least one fall in 2018, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many factors can affect your balance outside of age, such as medication, vision changes, neuropathy of the feet, brain injuries, obesity and a general lack of physical fitness. Even if you have no risk factors, simply neglecting to work regularly on your balance will result in increased instability.
Our body is conditioned to lose what we don’t regularly use and practice, and balance is no different, said Susan Baxter, a physiotherapist in Melbourne, Australia, via email.
Walking up stairs is another easy way to enhance your balance, Baxter said, as part of good balance lies in a strong lower body. Squats and lunges work, too.
If you prefer more playful exercises, you can dance, jump, walk sideways or backward, or stand on your tiptoes or heels, said Michael Landau, a Feldenkrais practitioner in Limache, Chile, who teaches mindful movement. (Feldenkrais is an exercise therapy designed to help people reconnect with their bodies and improve their movement.) The most important thing is to challenge your balance constantly.
When you have good balance, you move around with less fear and more flexibility, Landau said, adding that a fear of falling makes you stiff and stressed — and thus more likely to fall.
Don’t think you have the time to work on your balance? There are easy ways to sneak it into your daily routines. Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth, watching television or waiting in line at the grocery store. Or periodically walk around shoeless, Baxter said.
Balance improves pretty quickly with a little practice. And exercises will net you benefits at any age, whether you’re a child or in your 90s.
Good balance improves your general mobility, so you’ll move more and your muscles and bones will get stronger, Landau said. It’s good for longevity and general health, and it makes life worth living.”