Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Better Balance Basics: Staying Fit and Active
Have you noticed yourself walking a little slower especially on uneven surfaces? Or needing to hold onto banisters when you never gave steps a second thought? These are some early red flags that your body‘s balance system could benefit from some fine-tuning.
Just like cars need tune-ups to run most efficiently, the body does too. Training can help.
Register for our FREE course on Better Balance happening October 10th.
How balance works
Balance is communicated in the nervous system. The eyes, the vestibular (GPS system in the body), and a system called proprioception (where the body parts are) work together when you move. While this sounds pretty complicated, developing balance and re-training balance is fun and simple. Balance starts to develop from the day babies are born. Balance develops through play. Culturally, we play less as we age. Naturally, balance skills will change too unless we choose to work on it.
What contributes to balance getting worse as people age?
As people age, we get efficient doing the same activities and movements repeatedly. We have effective movement habits. Our brain likes being comfortable and familiar. This is how after a hard day of work and frequent sitting, you may feel more inclined to become a couch potato at night rather than going for a refreshing walk or doing another form of movement activity. Your brain and balance system are working against your better sensibilities. Agility declines more from disuse as people age. Disuse is also becoming synonymous with sitting disease. Without a decision to stay active and participate in an activity that is good for balance, this cycle can lead to a slow spiral of fall, injury, and disability.
What you need to know about your balance system
The nervous system is a use it or lose it system. This also means that balance is trainable. Treadmills, weight machines, swimming pools have a benefit. However, they don’t necessarily work your balance system. Try including circular movements, bending, reaching, and unexpected playful movements. Dancing and martial arts are good examples of these types of movements.
When exercise or activity isn’t working
Consider the three building blocks to balance the eyes, the inner GPS, and proprioception. A small decline in movement in any system affects the other two systems. A former client had a new eyeglass prescription, went out to play golf, hit the ground rather than the T, and had a shoulder injury. Paying attention to these systems can help you figure out the best expert to go to improve your balance and agility.