How is your balance? I don’t mean work/life balance (although of course that is important too). I mean your ability to navigate simple tasks like walking, climbing steps or standing with ease and confidence.
Try this quick test: Right now, get up and stand one-legged on your left foot for 15 seconds. Then do the same standing on your right foot. How did you do? Is one side more stable than the other? Was it easier or harder today as opposed to yesterday? That is common.
We’ve all heard stories of elderly people falling and breaking a hip, ultimately leading to a downward spiral in their overall health.
Throw slushy, icy conditions into the mix and the danger factor increases significantly!
Truth be told, falls tickle my funny bone. My friends have been known to call me at all times of day from all over the country to share a funny falling story. Thankfully none of those have resulted in anyone getting hurt! As we age and muscles become weaker, vision changes and gait alters, it may not be as funny.
Check out New York Times health columnist Jane Brody’s latest article on how to prevent falls.
Falls around the home are most common. Get a step stool. My husband will stand on our unstable breakfast bar stools to reach the top of kitchen shelf. Ugh, I can’t even watch (especially when we have a step stool 10-feet away)!
And please ladies, consider your footwear. I remember a friend breaking her ankle and reporting, “I was wearing shoes I had no business wearing.” If we must choose fashion over function, consider it a taxi or driving day.
But I digress. What you do now to maintain good balance can prevent future falls and perhaps injury (or even death). Balance exercises are as important to integrate into your daily routine as cardio, strength or meditation practices. And they don’t require any equipment!
When I busted my knee, one critical part of my physical therapy focused on balance. If my knee off, therefore so would be my hip, ankle, and so on.
Gosh I felt stupid when unable to stand on one foot without waffling around! I found this seemingly easy exercise super challenging and literally would crack up and ungracefully flutter all over the place (some days less so than others). Thankfully, over time I improved.
According to an article in Prevention Magazine, balance is a “use it or lose it” capacity that remains steadier if we are active. "Balance is a separate system, just like strength or flexibility. You can improve it if you continue to challenge it," says Edward Laskowski, MD, codirector of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, MN.
Generally, good balance starts with a strong and centered core.
Let’s work on it together! Below is a short list of ways to improve balance (and ultimately avoid accidents). You can find a deeper list as well as balance tests here.
- On the phone or watching TV? Alternate standing on one foot!
- I had a physical therapist once tell me “strong glutes equal strong body.” Do some squats to improve strength and stability.
- Try a class like tai chi, yoga, or dance that has balance at its core (pun intended).
- Walk a straight line, one foot in front of the other from one side of the room to the other.
- Or, walk on the beach, hike or stroll. Just being active will improve your balance!
Regardless of the balance activity, have a sense of humor and some fun with it. If you’re not flapping around a bit, then you’re not pushing yourself.
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™
P.S. This is the last week to take advantage of the opportunity to start off the new year right with a complimentary health history consultation with yours truly! Just email me by January 15th with the code 2018IsMyYear and set up an appointment by January 31st. Cheers!