Exercises for Balance

Every 14 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a fall related injury. Fear of falling often causes an individual to shorten his/her stride, shuffle the feet, and bend forward to see where the feet are. Ironically, this increases the risk of falling.

It is important to know how to recover from a fall. First, ease yourself up onto your elbows. Move onto your hands and knees. Then hold onto a firm surface, such as a chair, to support yourself. Facing the chair ease yourself to a standing position. Turn yourself around and sit on the chair.

Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that enables you to hold a steady position or move at will without falling. It is possible to improve balance with exercise, and in fact, balance training is one of the top 10 worldwide trends in the fitness industry. The pool is the perfect place to work on balance. Because the water’s buoyancy and resistance helps support the body, exercises can be done without fear of falling.

There are a number of strategies for improving balance. Some of them are:

  1. Gait Training. Gait training is walking practice with the goal of lengthening the stride and improving confidence while walking.
  2. Core Strength Training. The goal of core strength training is to improve the strength of the postural muscles of the trunk.
  3. Deep-Water Exercise. Deep water exercise is performed, while wearing a flotation device, in water in which a person can remain vertical without the feet touching the floor. Exercisers must aggressively engage the stabilizing muscles of the core to remain upright.
  4. Unpredictable Commands. Unpredictable commands train the body, and in particular the core muscles, to react to the unexpected.
  5. Balance Challenges. Balance challenges are performed with a narrow base of support, such as the feet together, one foot in front of the other or standing on one foot.

For specific exercises using each of these 5 strategies, you are invited to attend my lecture, Exercises for Balance, at the Bone Buddies osteoporosis support group on Saturday, May 14 at 9:45 AM. The meeting is free and open to the public. The location is the Methodist Richardson Medical Center, 2821 George Bush Hwy. Suite 200, Richardson, TX 75082.

Whether you wish to work on improving your own balance or you are an instructor interested in adding balance training to your water fitness class, there lots of exercises to choose from. I hope you’ll join us.

See you in the pool!

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