The Importance of Exercise & Training for Balance at Every Age

By Adrienne Donofrio NASM CPT

Balance is the key to all functional moment. It is simply defined as the body’s ability to control and stabilize itself. When we were young, balance was never an issue. Whether you realized it or not, balance training was part of your everyday activities. We rode bikes, played hop scotch, climbed, ran and jumped.

As we matured our daily routines changed and we become more sedentary. Our lives keep us seated for the majority of the day. In simple terms; as a result of inactivity the brain simply does not remember how to balance effectively, as the expression goes, “Use it or Lose It!” It is important to understand exactly what balance is, and how it affects our everyday activities.

When we assess balance we look at a number of components.

  1. Neuromuscular Component- This is the brains message to the body to balance and stabilize, so we must challenge the brain in an unstable environment to stimulate a reaction.
  2. Physical Component-Joints are the intersection where bones connective tissue and muscles meet and movement occurs. If joints are not stable the body is challenged during acceleration (speeding up) or more importantly deceleration (slowing down), if there is a lack of stability, your body may not be able to handle walking up or down stairs, up and down curbs or any type of incline without the risk of falling. This lack of stability can place extreme amounts of stress on joint, potentially causing serious injury.
  3. Posture -When we discuss posture in basic terms we consider how the spine is aligned in relation to the joints. So if posture is poor chances are the body is going to be challenged when trying to maintain stability. The spine should be aligned so that the head and trunk fall directly over the pelvis. If posture is poor balance is compromised.

Best Way to Start Basic Balance Training:

  • Practice standing on one foot for 10 second. For safety always stand next to the wall for support. Take the stairs; take the stairs and skip the escalator or elevator. Use the hand rails if you’re feeling unsteady or ask for help.
  • Get out and ride a bike, as the saying goes “It’s like riding a bike, you never forget.”
  • Schedule a session with a personal trainer – Learn to improve posture, balance and strengthen joints safely from a professional.
  • Take a trip to a health professional such as a chiropractor or a physical therapist.

A prescription for specific exercise to improve posture and stability may be needed.

Taking the steps to improve balance can reduce the risk of fall and injury. Reduce the risk and take the steps to improve your balance immediately!