Walk Steady Part Two

MHLbannersmallThree Variations on a Balancing Act

In last month's newsletter we included some thoughts on balance and why it's important throughout your life, not only when you're older. Although problems with balance are generally associated with the aging process there are a number of circumstances, including illness, injury or medications you might be taking that can affect balance.

And even if you don't have a specific situation that's negatively impacting your balance, making improvements in that particular area can be helpful in a wide range of daily or recreational activities.

Since the September issue of My Healthy Lifestyle promised some exercises that are especially helpful for supporting good balance over time let's get to them. We say "them" but in fact, this is really a single exercise with three different approaches in ascending order of difficulty. But first, a quick reflection on balance and exercise.

Most exercises designed to improve balance focus on leg muscle strength as well as the vestibular system, the series of body structures associated with balance and spatial perception. As a result, balance exercises tend to be integrative with regard to our muscles, sensory organs and bones. For example:

Beginnerstandonefoot

1. Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top.
2. Lightly grasp the chair or counter top with your fingertips.
3. Raise one leg a foot off the ground.
4. Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
5. Hold for a count of 10 seconds.

At this point, repeat with the other leg and perform the exercise five times for each leg.

Intermediate

1. As with the beginner version, stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top. In this case the chair or counter top are for safety only.
2. Without holding on to the chair or countertop raise one leg a foot off the ground.
3. Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
4. Hold for a count of 10 seconds.

Again, repeat the exercise five times on each leg.

Advanced

1. Stand up straight behind a tall chair or at a counter top. Again, just as with the intermediate version the chair or counter top are needed only if you need to grab something.
2.This time, close both of your eyes.
3. Without holding on to the chair or countertop raise one leg a foot off the ground.
4. Maintain your balance while standing on one leg.
5. Hold for a count of 10 seconds.

As with the other two versions of the exercise, repeat with other leg and perform five times on each leg.

And remember: You may not be at the "I've fallen and I can't get up" stage of life that can potentially happen as you get older, but improving your balance now has been shown to be helpful later in life as well as for your current activities.


 

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