Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — When people think about improving their physical fitness, they often ignore the issue of balance. Good balance is an integral part of enjoying physical fitness and is key to living a long life, according to research, and is critical for all age groups.
The elderly are the most affected by balance impairment. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for people 65 and older, with nearly 30% of this age group reporting at least one fall in 2018, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Control. But younger adults frequently stumble, too.
48% of young adults reported falling at least once during one 16-week study. The most common falls occurred during walking and sporting activities, with female study participants reporting more falls and related injuries than males.
Over the past two years, 18% of young adults (ages 20-45) reported falls in another study published in BMC Public Health. Older people between the ages of 46 and 65 had a fall rate of 21%, and 35% among those over 65 years of age. And while falls among young adults were often associated with participation in sports, stumbles by the middle-aged group were usually linked to health conditions and physiological changes.
Many factors can affect balance, such as medications, changes in vision, neuropathy of the feet, brain injury, obesity, and general lack of physical fitness. Even if you don’t have any risk factors, neglecting work will greatly affect your imbalance.
“Our body is wired to lose what we don’t use and exercise regularly, and that gets off balance,” Suzanne Baxter, a physiotherapist in Melbourne, Australia, told CNN.
Straightening and improving balance
To determine your situation, here are three experiments you can try:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms folded across your chest. You should be able to stand in this position with your eyes closed for 60 seconds. You can also do the same test by placing one foot directly in front of the other. And you should be able to stand for 38 seconds on both sides.
Stand on one foot without your other foot touching the leg you’re standing on. Those under the age of 60 should be able to stand in this position for 29 seconds, with their eyes open and closed for 21 seconds. People aged 60 and over must be able to record 22 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively.
Stand on one foot with your hands on your hips, and place the other foot off the inside of your knee. When lifting the heel of your standing foot off the ground, stay still and straight for 25 seconds.
And if you fail any of these tests, don’t despair. And with some practice, you can restore and improve your balance skills. One of the easiest ways to do this is by balancing on one leg, while holding the other leg, Meltem Sonmez Pur, certified personal trainer and founder of Barreitude in New York. And she advised to practice standing next to a chair or something you can hold if you feel unbalanced.
Baxter said climbing stairs is another easy way to improve your balance, because part of good balance is a strong lower body. Do squats and lunges, too. Because the vestibular system in your inner ear grows from sensory input, Baxter recommended movements like kneeling on the floor or standing up from a seated position, both of which require motions through different planes of your body.
Michael Landau, a Feldenkrais practitioner (designed to help people reconnect with their bodies and improve their movement) in Limash, Chile, who teaches mindful movement, explained that if you prefer more playful exercises, you can dance, jump, walk sideways, backwards, or stand on a bench. your fingertips or the heels of your feet.
“When you balance well, you move with less fear and with more flexibility,” Landau added, adding that the fear of falling makes you stiff and tense, and therefore more likely to fall.
“Good balance improves your overall mobility, so you’ll move more and your muscles and bones will be stronger,” Land concluded. “It’s good for longevity, overall health, and makes life worth living.”