Balance declines as people age, unless they regularly do Balance exercises. There are several reasons a person's balance worsens with age.
One reason are cells in the vestibular system die as you get older. The vestibular system pinpoints where your body is and recognizes when you're about to fall over, so that it can signal the brain to adjust your body in a way that restores balance before falling. When cells in the vestibular system die, the vestibular system loses accuracy. As a result, your ability to correct your body when it's off balance declines, too.
Muscle mass and strength deteriorate as a person ages. What does this have to do with balance? Power is a factor in maintaining balance. If you trip, power helps you react quickly. The greater your power, the more quickly your body acts to prevent a fall.
Certain medications and health problems impair balance. Dizziness, lightheadedness, and other symptoms of poor balance are often side effects of medication. In fact, several medications have been known to cause damage to the inner ear, resulting in a balance disorder. Some health problems that negatively impact balance include arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and Parkinson's disease.
The good news is that it's possible to counter the decline of balance that comes with age by regularly performing balance exercises and sticking to a workout routine. The following exercises will help you improve your balance and protect it from deteriorating:
Standing Side Leg Lift: Stand behind a chair with your spine straight and hold the back of the chair with both hands. Bring your feet together, and then slowly lift your right leg to the side without bending it. Your foot should leave the floor as well. Hold it in the air for a moment, and then return to the starting position. Do 10 reps on each leg and 1-3 sets.
A set is the number of reps. For example, in this case, one set is 10 times. Two sets are 20 times total. Three sets are 30 times total. Always take a short break after each set. When this balance exercise becomes too easy for you, start doing it with your eyes closed.
Back Leg Raises: This exercise will strengthen your lower back and glute muscles as well as improve balance. Remember that increasing strength is important for balance. Stand behind a chair holding onto it and slowly lift your right leg behind you keeping it straight. Don't lean forward while doing this exercise. Hold your leg out for a second, and then carefully return to the starting position. Do 10-15 reps on each leg and 1-3 sets.
Standing On One Foot: Stand behind a chair holding onto it with one hand and lift your foot in the air. Stand on one leg for 10 seconds. Do 10-15 reps on each leg and 1-3 sets. As your balance improves, you can do this exercise without holding onto the chair, but keep it nearby in case you lose balance.
How often should you do balance exercises? Schedule a 15-minute session three times per week to improve and maintain balance.
Nobody needs to succumb to loss of balance as they get older. Get into the habit of performing balance exercises three times a week even if you haven't experienced balance-related problems yet. You don't want to discover your balance has declined via a nasty fall.