If you’ve ever felt unsteady, lightheaded, or dizzy then you know these can be very troublesome sensations. If these feelings happen often, it could be a sign of a balance problem. Good balance means controlling and maintaining your body’s proper position, walking without staggering, getting up from a chair without falling, climbing stairs without tripping, bending over without falling – in other words, carrying out daily activities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly more than one-third of adults ages 65 years and older fall each year.
What can be done to help improve your balance? The answer is often as easy as incorporating simple exercises such as weight shifts, standing on one leg and standing up and sitting down without using your hands into your daily routine, and/or attending balance classes.
Let’s start with weight shifts. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your body weight equally distributed on both legs. Lean your body weight to your right side, then lift your left foot slightly off the floor. Hold for as long as you can maintain good form, up to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Repeat in sets of 5-10. Hold on to a chair or other stable object to start if that makes you more comfortable.
A second exercise is standing on one leg. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your body weight equally distributed on both legs. Place your hands on your hips. Lift your right leg off the floor by bending at the knee. Hold for as long as you can maintain good form, up to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Use a chair to steady yourself if necessary.
Next, work on standing up and sitting down without using your hands. Practice this a few times a day until it becomes an easy and natural movement.
Another option is to attend a balance class. Balance classes help tremendously, will include a variety of additional movements, and have the added benefit of the social aspect of group fitness.
These are all great ways to improve and maintain good balance, but remember to also consult with your doctor, especially if you are experiencing continued problems, since treatments vary depending on the cause.
Christina M. Stanbery has been a fitness expert and club owner since 1997. She is the Owner and Fitness Manager at Retired-N-Renewed, a Division of Retired-N-Fit, LLC, specializing in health and wellness of adults ages 50 and beyond. Retired-N-Renewed is located at Foulkstone Plaza, 1409 Foulk Road, Suite 104, Wilmington, DE 19803. If you have a question for Christina, call her at 302-478-4191, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.retirednfit.com.