As you get older, it’s important to stay active and maintain your health. And while aging gracefully is a goal that many of us have in mind, it’s also one that requires some work on our part. One aspect of aging that you may not be aware of is your balance—when this begins to deteriorate, it can lead to falls and injuries. In this article we’ll discuss ways to improve or maintain balance so that you can age beautifully.
Loss of balance is a reality we all will face at some point in our lives. If you are fortunate enough, you don’t really think about your balance which means you have not had a dangerous trip or fall. However, as we age this becomes a pain point for many and contributes to a lack of independence.
Balance starts declining after the age of 40. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, this is the leading cause of injuries that result in seniors being admitted to the hospital.
As we age, we lose muscle tone and bone density which are both key components to keeping us balanced. In addition, there can be joint swelling, cognitive decline, vertigo, arthritis and a loss of agility and mobility, which all contribute to balance loss.
According to Osteoporosis Canada, people should be including balance work as well as postural exercises daily. Strength training and cardiovascular exercises are recommended but less regularly. They suggest 2-3 days/week for light weight training and 150 minutes/week of moderate aerobic exercises.
Exercise is a key component of maintaining and preventing falls. The more active you are, the better off you’ll be when it comes to maintaining your balance and preventing falls.
There are different types of exercises that will help your balance improve so you can live an active life into old age. Here are a few suggestions:
- Walking – this is a great low-impact exercise that anyone can do at any age!
- Pilates – fantastic for improving strength, flexibility and good posture
- Tai Chi – this ancient Chinese martial art focuses on slow movements with deep breathing techniques
Ultimately, the most important piece (to ensure you are getting better by the decade!) is balance and postural work. Balance and posture exercises are the foundation to any properly designed Pilates class tailored to adults over 40. This is a key reason why I see so many people in my Pilates classes as the movement feels good as they age.
Working on balance is like training a muscle. If you want to improve it, you have to work on it regularly. Our bodies can do amazing things when we move them in the right way.
By practicing balance regularly, you will:
Strengthen the stabilizing muscles in your body
Strengthen your core
Feel more confident in your body
Feel more agile
Minimize the risk of nasty trips and falls
Aging can have a negative connotation, but it should be fun and include some of the best years of your life. It is important to age beautifully and movement is key to keeping you happy, healthy and living life to the fullest!
Christine Kirkland is a Certified Pilates Instructor offering online Pilates classes. She specializes in helping adults to increase their balance, strength, mobility and feel their best every day. Sign up for the newsletter which is jam packed full of fitness tips and advice for seniors, bonus freebies and subscriber exclusives by clicking here.