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Staying Balanced As You Age

Art Aiello |
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Art Aiello is a writer and editor based in Waukesha, WI.

Taking a tumble is a fact of life for children. But for seniors, falling can be downright dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emergency departments across the nation in 2013 treated about 2.5 million older adults for falls. The CDC also reported that from 2012 through 2013, falls accounted for 55% of deaths caused by unintentional injuries among Americans aged 65 years and older.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) attribute many causes to falls among seniors. One such culprit is poor balance. Fortunately, there are some easy steps that anyone can take to improve their balance and make falls less likely.

Improve Your Posture

Good posture ensures that you remain stable when you stand or walk. The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) recommends making sure that you stand such that your weight is evenly distributed across both feet. Look in a mirror and ensure that your ears, shoulders and hips are aligned, one above the other. Make sure you don’t hold your head out in front of your shoulders, or your shoulders in front of your hips, as this can alter your center of gravity, and therefore, your overall stability.

Using the Motivo Tour walker ­– with its patented design that allows you to walk upright instead of hunched over – makes it even easier to ensure you maintain proper posture at all times.

Exercise for Balance and Muscle Tone

The Mayo Clinic offers several recommendations for exercises that take only minutes a day.

Weight shifts require you to stand with your feet hip-width apart and weight evenly distributed on both feet – which will also allow you to practice good posture – and then slowly shift your weight to one foot, lifting the other off the ground. Try to hold the position for up to 30 seconds. Then return to the starting position and switch sides.

Single-leg balance exercises start the same way. In this case, you’ll want to put your hands on your hips and slowly lift one leg off the floor by bending it at the knee. Hold it as long as you can – up to 30 seconds – then return to the starting position and switch sides.

When you really want to give yourself a whole-body workout that will not only improve balance but overall wellness, you might want to consider tai chi. The Harvard Health Blog reported that the ancient Chinese martial art has been shown to reduce falls in seniors by as much as 45 percent. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that tai chi was even effective in improving balance in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Of course – never begin an exercise program without consulting with your doctor first.

Do you have tips for improving balance? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook + Twitter.

Note: Motivo, makers of the Tour, does not provide medical advice. The information on this blog and site is general information for educational purposes only. Please consult your physician for any specific medical needs.

 

References:

http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

http://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/causesandriskfactors/01.html

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db199.htm

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1107911

http://www.nchpad.org/1070/5472/Senior~Corner~~The~Essential~Nature~of~Posture~for~Balance~and~Functionhttp://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/balance-exercises/sls-20076853

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/try-tai-chi-to-improve-balance-avoid-falls-201208235198

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