Reducing the Risk of Falls By Improving Balance
As we age, our sense of balance is increasingly affected. As a result, older adults often suffer serious injuries from falling down unexpectedly. Although balance is something we rarely think about, it plays an important role in maintaining a good quality of life. Unfortunately, the aging process tends to alter some of the basic senses we normally take for granted, but a good sense of balance can be largely restored with regular balance training.

The Mechanics of Balance Training

Balance training is a discipline that is part of a larger group of functional fitness exercises, which are designed to help elderly adults address the physical challenges of daily living. Balance training incorporates modern exercise techniques to help improve the following areas:

* Core stabilization: A strong core is essential for maintaining stability as you sit, move or stand. Low-impact core stabilization exercises can help you develop a reliable support base.

* Body Strengthening: Building stronger muscles in your legs and back will improve your stride and provide the flexibility required to climb stairs, avoid collisions and navigate uneven terrain. For older adults, resistance training is an important part of building a dependable sense of balance.

* Balance Training Exercises: If you have engaged in a program to stabilize your core and build strength, specific balance exercises can be added to your sessions. This includes routines like standing on one leg, walking heel to toe or knee lifting while walking.

Naturally, any balance training program should be conducted with the approval of your physician and with the guidance of a trained fitness professional.

Benefits of Balance Training

Building a better sense of balance provides additional benefits including:

* Improved Reaction Time: Quicker reactions can help you stabilize your body by reaching out to grab a fixed object before you actually fall.

* Better Coordination: A heightened sense of coordination can help prevent or reduce the seriousness of a fall by distributing the impact energy throughout your entire body.

* Bigger Muscles: Developed muscles provide shielding for bones and joints in the event of a fall.

* Enhanced Brain Function: Exercise has been tied directly to improved brain function in the elderly. Thinking clearly can help avoid situations with a high fall risk.

* Stronger Bones: Resistance exercises will strengthen your bones so they are less prone to break in the event of a fall.

The Systems That Control Balance

The body needs internal and external input to regulate balance. To properly interpret and analyze the sensory signals, the central nervous system relies on the eyes, the inner ear and the body itself. Before you begin any balance training program, it is important to have a complete physical to ensure all of your senses are healthy and functioning properly.


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