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Increase balance as we age

Linda Stultz
Certified Fitness Trainer

(10/2017) As we age balance becomes even more important to our overall health. Around the age of 35 our balance begins to change at a very slow rate and we may not notice it until we get older. Iím not saying we will stumble and fall or not be able to walk a straight line but ever so slightly we lose a little more stability as we age. I have heard of so many people that have fallen this year and broke a bone, myself included.

We did not fall because of bad balance but accidents occur because of different reasons. Unfortunately, the results were breaking something and having to wait for it to heal, then doing rehabilitation to strengthen the muscles that atrophied during the bone healing process. One thing leads to another and it takes time, effort and patience with yourself to get back to normal. I am still working on getting my range of motion back in my ankle.

It is never too late to start working on keeping and improving our balance so hopefully you won't fall or if you do, your muscles will be in good shape and the healing process may be a little shorter. Strength training, yoga, t'ai chi and stretching are great ways to work on balance as well as keeping our muscles strong.

One simple way to keep our balance in top shape is to stand on one foot while washing dishes or waiting in the checkout line at the store. You donít have to raise your foot very high to engage the stabilization muscles on the leg you are standing on to strengthen them and your core muscles. Tighten your core muscles as you walk around or even as you sit. Working on and keeping a strong core will help with balance as well as helping the rest of your body stay in the best shape possible.

Stepping up and down on a stair or a sidewalk curb is also a great way to work on balance. This will strengthen your legs, core and feet muscles and give you practice going up and down which is where many falls occur. Keeping your leg muscles in good shape help you get up and down in a chair, go up and down stairs as well as being able to go for walks. Going for a walk is not only good for cardio but also for lungs and overall health.

Many people cannot run, ride a bike or do other more strenuous activities but most of us can walk and that is all we need. Donít wait until you are not able to go for a walk and wish you could. I have heard some people say " I remember my grandmother saying if I could only walk better". She had trouble with her knees and didnít keep them moving and after a while she just couldnít walk well enough to go for a walk. She even had trouble just walking around the house. I see many people having trouble walking on uneven sidewalks or ground at outside events. This keeps some people from enjoying time with their friends and family just because they have trouble walking.

Donít wait until you have fallen and injured yourself to start working on improving your balance. Start today with a simple standing exercise and progress to standing on one leg and even standing with your eyes closed, but only if you have something to hold on to until you feel secure. You can even stand on a pillow when you feel you are ready. This gives a bit of a challenge but is not too aggressive until you know you can handle it.

If you have ever had an injury you know it takes time to recuperate. Don't give up, keep moving forward and get back to the best strength and condition you can. There is always a safe way to exercise and work on what is challenging your health.

If you have any questions about getting started just call me at 717-334-6009 and remember to Keep Moving.

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