As we grow older, we lose our sense of balance. The scary fact is that this starts around age 25 but thankfully we don’t really feel the effects of this loss until we hit 40 or 50 years. According to the National Institute of Health one in three people over the age of 65 will experience a fall each year. Several factors lead to this statistic and most of them normal aging processes. Sight changes, natural deterioration of the inner ear system, loss of coordination and reflexes and decreases in muscle mass and strength are all factors of aging that contribute to the loss of balance. We cannot fight them all but we can work on muscle strength and coordination. We cannot stop this loss but we can slow its process.
We need to increase muscle strength by continuing to incorporate strength and toning exercises in our fitness routines but we also need to incorporate balance work. Yoga and Tai Chi help improve balance, but something as basic as walking on uneven surfaces will help. Walking in a straight line (imaginary tight rope) is a great test of balance. Practice your balance with standing on one leg for 15, 30 or even 60 seconds is a great balance exercise. When you reach those higher times without trouble, add in bicep curls or small shoulder exercises to increase the difficulty.
As a trainer I incorporate quite a bit of functional movements as well as balance work into a routine. I recommend that every one do so. Its never too early to start balance training. The earlier the better because there will come a time when its too little too late.