Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — When people think about improving their fitness, they often ignore the question of balance. Good balance is integral to enjoying fitness and is the key to living a long life, according to research, and is critical for all age groups.
The elderly are most affected by impaired balance. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for people ages 65 and older, with nearly 30 percent of this age group experiencing at least one fall in 2018, according to the U.S. Centers for Health and Safety. disease control. But even young adults often stumble.
48% of young adults reported falling at least once during a 16-week study. The most common falls occurred during walking and sports activities, with female study participants reporting more falls and related injuries than males.
Over the past two years, 18 percent of young adults (ages 20-45) reported falls in another study published in BMC Public Health. Older people between the ages of 46 and 65 had a fall rate of 21%, and those over the age of 65 had a 35% fall rate. And while falls among young adults were often associated with participation in sports, stumbles among the middle-aged group were usually linked to health conditions and physiological changes.
Many factors can affect balance, such as medications, vision changes, neuropathy in the feet, brain injury, obesity, and general lack of fitness. Even if you have no risk factors, neglecting work will greatly affect your imbalance.
“Our body is hardwired to lose what we don’t use and exercise regularly, and that throws us off balance,” Suzanne Baxter, a physical therapist in Melbourne, Australia, told CNN.
Straightening and improving balance
To determine your situation, here are three experiments you can try:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms crossed across your chest. You should be able to stay in this position with your eyes closed for 60 seconds. You can also do the same test by placing one foot directly in front of the other. And you should be able to stand for 38 seconds on either side.
Stand on one foot without the other foot touching the leg you are standing on. Those under 60 should be able to hold this position for 29 seconds, with their eyes open and closed for 21 seconds. People 60 years of age and older must be able to record 22 seconds and 10 seconds, respectively.
Stand on one foot with hands on hips and place other foot inside knee. When you lift the heel of your standing foot off the ground, stand still and straight for 25 seconds.
And if you fail any of these tests, don’t despair. And with a little practice, you can restore and improve your balance skills. One of the easiest ways to do this is to balance on one leg, holding the other leg, Meltim Sonmez Pur, certified personal trainer and founder of Barreitude in New York City. And he recommended practicing standing next to a chair or something you can hold if you feel off balance.
Baxter said climbing stairs is another easy way to improve balance, because part of good balance is a strong lower body. Also do squats and lunges. Because the vestibular system in the inner ear grows from sensory input, Baxter recommended movements such as kneeling on the floor or rising from a seated position, both of which require movement through different planes of the body.
If you prefer more playful exercises, you can dance, jump, walk sideways, backwards or stand on a platform, explained Michael Landau, a practitioner of Feldenkrais therapy (designed to help people reconnect with their bodies and improve their movements) in Limash, Chile, which teaches mindful movement, fingertips or heels of toes.
“When you’re well balanced, you move with less fear and more flexibility,” Landau added, adding that fear of falling makes you stiff and tense, and therefore more likely to fall.
“Good balance improves your overall mobility, so you’ll move more and your muscles and bones will be stronger,” Land concluded. “It’s good for longevity, overall health, and makes life worth living.”