Maintaining good balance as we age helps to prevent injury, improves athletic performance, and eases the activities of daily life.
Aging naturally brings with it a decline with posture, strength, mobility, flexibility, stability, and balance. Creating situations on a regular basis in midlife to practice these life skills assures the brain that these activities are still important and useful for overall good health.
Did you realize how much of daily functional activities rely on good balance? Stopping and starting; Standing up and sitting down; Surface changes, such as pavement to grass or wood floor to carpet; Uneven surfaces, such as sidewalks or park trails; Negotiating obstacles, such as the corner of a rug or coffee table; Changing speed; Changing direction; and Level changes, such as going up or down curbs.
The key to maintaining a good sense of balance is to stay active and incorporate some kind of balance activity in your regular routine. There are several simple exercises that don’t take any equipment and not much time:
Even when I was younger, balance wasn’t one of my strong qualities. All the more reason for me to practice as I age. I’ve acquired some extra pieces of equipment along the way that has helped me with my balance goals:
When I had my first experience with a personal trainer, she suggested using a BOSU. Invented by David Weck, the BOSU® Balance Trainer debuted in 2000. Originally, the name “BOSU” was an acronym for “Both Sides Up.” It meant that the BOSU® Balance Trainer can be used on either side, the dome or the platform. BOSU® has evolved to also mean “Both Sides Utilized,” a mindful approach to exercise that is a step beyond traditional training.
I bought a BOSU® to add to my workout routine. At first, just standing on the BOSU® dome for 20 seconds without falling off was a challenge enough for me. Eventually, adding squats than following the DVD exercises that come with the equipment added a nice change to my exercise routine.
I attended the IDEA World Fitness Conference a couple of summers ago and I met the inventor of the StrongBoard Balance and she demonstrated for me the benefits of using this tool for supporting good balance. StrongBoard Balance employs patented multi-spring technology and a flat, rigid platform that allows the user to mimic real-life movements to strengthen the stabilizing muscles.
While it is pretty stable, I have a hard time getting on and off and staying stable. I definitely feel my core muscles working as I try to balance. I haven’t gotten much past standing on one foot as the balancing is tricky. I know with practice I will get more confident and improve my balance.
Balance Pods by Spri
Balance Pods improve dynamic balance, body awareness and coordination. They can be used with the flat side down for more stabilization or flat side up for a balance challenge, giving varied levels of difficulty. I received a set when I attended the FitBloggin’ Conference in July, 2016. I like how the pods are small so I can take them with on trips. And they are fun to help the grandsons practice their balance too.
As we age, we need to hold on to our balance skills. These tools, when used as directed, can be a great source in helping to maintain proper balance to last a lifetime.