Why is Balance Training Important as We Get Older?
As we age, our balance naturally declines because of our worsening vision, reduced muscle strength and coordination, and the slowing down of some neural processes crucial for balancing. Because balance is fundamental to everything we do while upright, losing our balance impacts our ability to perform many everyday activities, and, more importantly, increases the risk of falling. Falls are a common cause of injury among older adults. They can result in fractured hips, arms, elbows, wrists as well as head injuries, all of which can result in subsequent surgeries and hospitalizations. Having good balance can help older adults avoid both the frequency and the severity of their falls, reducing the likelihood they will suffer a serious injury that will lead to a significant and permanent change in their quality of life.
In addition to helping to prevent falls, good balance also helps us stay mobile and independent as we get older. Without good balance, walking can become difficult and stairs can be intimidating. This can lead to reduced exercise and increased feelings of isolation. In addition, even everyday tasks like reaching into high cupboards, getting out of cars, and using a step stool can create instability and become difficult or impossible. To maintain healthy aging, it is important to keep engaged in life activities, many of which, ultimately, depend on having good balance.
There are several ways that older adults can work to improve and maintain their balance, including strength training and activities that challenge balance, such as yoga or tai chi. The GiBoard Balance Board is a great option for balance training for people of all ages, including older adults. Its unique blend of being fun, challenging and safe is ideal for older adults who want to maintain or even improve their ability to balance. Before starting any kind of exercise program, including balance training, it is important for older adults to consult with their healthcare provider to make sure it is appropriate for their individual needs and abilities.