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What Helps To Maintain Good Balance?

How can you go about getting back what you once had? And we’re talking about balance here, just to be clear. It’s undeniable that gradual changes in physical health and strength, along with medication can have an impact on how the body maintains balance and posture as you get older. One of the ways you can hang onto your youthful balance a while longer (a lot longer if you do it right), is to exercise. You don’t have to sign up for any adrenaline sports, mind you. Something as simple as daily stretching and simple balance-enhancing exercises (done calmly and slowly, don’t worry), can promote better balance as you get older. The best thing about exercise in any form is that it’s great for maintaining physical, mental, and emotional balance.



Table of Contents:

Regular Exercise & Restoring Your Balance

An active lifestyle is more important than ever as you grow older. It keeps you looking good, feeling good, and it also lets everyone else know just how spry you still are – and will be for a long time to come. It’s not great news to find that our bodies become less resilient and more susceptible to health problems as we age. Fortunately, regular exercise is beneficial in offsetting such effects by providing a wide range of benefits that can help you restore and maintain your balance. Let’s take a quick look at those before we move on…

 

The physical benefits of regular exercise are bones that fight back! Maintaining tip-top bone health is critical to healthy aging, especially for seniors more susceptible to conditions like osteoporosis. Bone density usually decreases with age, making us more prone to compromised mobility and fractures. It’s not all bad news though, because exercise is widely recommended as a preventive strategy to reduce osteoporosis by enhancing bone density and ensuring improved skeletal strength. Bones that fight back are dense enough to handle a minor fall and strong enough to power strengthening muscles.



Weight-bearing exercises like walking, jogging, and resistance training are particularly effective in stimulating bone growth and maintaining or increasing bone density, no matter what age you are – it’s a universal thing! When you put your bones under mechanical stress, it triggers the bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) to become more active. As a result, the bones adapt by becoming denser and more robust, reducing the risk of fractures, and promoting overall skeletal integrity. You’ll also have better posture and balance by engaging in weight-bearing exercises, which means those pesky falls you’ve been fearing are a little (or lot) less likely to happen at all. Check out an article we wrote called The 20-Minute Workout.


Improved Cardio Health & Strength

They say a lot of living comes from the heart. It’s true – without an excellent heart, you’ll likely struggle with daily exercises. Cardiovascular diseases are conditions that affect the heart and connected blood vessels. Cardiovascular conditions can stop blood from being effectively delivered to organs, including systems that help maintain balance and a good posture. Poor cardiovascular health can decrease blood flow or damage balance systems, making it extremely difficult to maintain stability or balance. If you want to stand up straight, walk with purpose, and ensure that you have the strength to do all the activities you’re used to, looking after your cardiovascular health is important. Brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or aerobic classes can elevate your heart rate and increase blood circulation. It enhances your heart’s efficiency, strengthening its capacity to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body.

 

As a side note, calmer, slower versions of exercise such as Pilates and yoga can also be good for the heart, so don’t cast those aside, especially if high-energy sports and activities just aren’t your thing. The point is to increase the heart rate, and just about any form of exercise, even stretching, can help you with that. Although cardiovascular changes with advanced age can increase the risk of losing balance and falling, exercise can help prevent or counter the effects. It can keep your arteries healthy, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, reduce plaque build-up, and improve blood flow to muscles, joints, and tissues to help restore and maintain your balance. What is better for our age group, cardio or weights?

 

None of us in our senior years will be surprised if someone told us that we’re getting physically weaker, because we are! That doesn’t mean that you should simply take it lying down! It’s time to fight back and keep your muscles as strong as they can possibly be for as long as possible.  When muscles lose their strength, mass, and endurance, you’re at risk of being a bit wobbly or even toppling over from time to time, which are obviously things we all want to avoid. Stretching, weighted exercises and balance exercises can all go a long way to priming the muscles to be stronger for longer and to maintain mass and endurance, thus promoting better balance and good posture.

 

Endurance exercises involve activities like walking, cycling, or swimming, which engage large muscle groups for an extended period. Strength training and dedicated stretching exercises build the foundation of muscular strength, while endurance exercises contribute to sustained muscle function. This supports overall mobility, reduces the risk of fatigue during daily activities, and helps you restore and maintain your balance. It sounds like a lot, but once you’ve got the hang of how to do these exercises, it’s really not!



Joint Health

Unless you’re made of titanium, wear and tear is to be expected as you age. We’ve done a lot with our bodies, and it shows with time. Wear and tear can show itself in the form of stiffness and reduced flexibility and range of motion. This affects posture and balance and lead to falls or instability. It’s safe to say that if you’re feeling a little unstable on your feet, your quality of life is going to be negatively impacted. To counteract this, engaging in exercises that promote joint mobility should become a priority. Activities such as stretching, yoga, balance exercises, and tai chi specifically target joint flexibility and can increase synovial fluid production, which lubricates the joints and reduces friction.

 

Flexibility, which enables muscles and tendons to stretch and move joints through a full range of motion, is closely intertwined with joint health. Incorporating stretching exercises into a routine promotes flexibility and can alleviate muscle tightness, reducing the risk of strains or sprains. Stretching should be gradual, and you should focus on all major muscle groups, including those in the shoulders, hips, and legs, which is something that’s focused on a little later in this book.



Eyesight Maintenance

It may sound a bit weird to say that exercise can provide some sort of benefits for your vision, but it’s true! Vision is an important part of balance. Impaired visual acuity, depth perceptions, and contract sensitivities that can result from eye degeneration result in a loss of balance and increase the risk of falls. Significant evidence shows that physical exercise can provide neuroprotective effects that protect retinal cells against irreversible damage. Exercise helps prevent age-related neurodegenerative conditions and can help halt the progression of eye disease. Studies have examined relationships between physical activity and common eye diseases that lead to vision impairment, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Findings show that regular exercise plays a protective role in such conditions and can protect you against vision loss.

 

Brain Boost for Cognition

Many overlook the important of giving the brain a regular workout! As we get older, our brains may get a little tired. They start to struggle with things like processing information speedily, remembering things, and other executive functions. To have excellent balance, your body must send messages to the brain. These are then decoded, and the brain tells the body how to respond. That should uncover the mystery of the link between brain health and physical exercise, at least.

 

Cognitive function and memory changes can result in a loss of balance and falls. Thankfully, regular exercise can profoundly affect cognitive health, offering seniors a natural and accessible means to enhance cognitive function and memory. Regular aerobic exercise improves cognitive function, including attention, processing speed, and executive function. Anyone participating in consistent aerobic activities often exhibit better performance on cognitive tests and may experience a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Increasing evidence shows that exercise can delay age-related memory impairments and decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Exercise induces various beneficial effects that enhance overall brain health, which helps preserve cognitive function and ensures you can maintain postural control and balance.


Better Sleep!

How well do you sleep? If you’ve been tossing and turning and not getting enough shut eye, you may notice that you’re just not entirely on your game (mentally and physically) the next day. Sleep deprivation decreases performance and can also impact your balance. Regular exercise is critical in promoting better sleep quality for seniors, offering a natural and effective way to address sleep-related challenges. Seniors who incorporate exercise into their routine often fall asleep more easily, experience fewer nighttime awakenings, and enjoy a more restful sleep. An exercise routine can be significantly beneficial if you experience insomnia or other sleep disorders. Exercise acts as a natural remedy for insomnia by reducing symptoms such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Its positive impacts on sleep quality are often comparable to the effects of some sleep medications but without the associated side effects. Try these tips for a better night's sleep - click here.

 

Stress Less and Enjoy a Better Mood

Depression, stress, falls, fear of further falls, and subsequent impairments in balance, mobility, and disability can all play off each other. If you’re confident enough to know that you’re strong enough to handle balance issues and are building strength each day, you’re less likely to feel stressed, worried, or even depressed. Regular exercise emerges as a powerful and natural tool for mood regulation and stress reduction, offering a holistic approach to mental health. Regular physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood-enhancing chemicals. Endorphins help reduce perceptions of pain and generate positive feelings. This is a great way to combat any niggling feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. See the 5 Best Exercises For Seniors.

 

It's never too late to embark on a journey toward a healthier, more vibrant you, especially when you feel the effects of neglecting self-care for years. Rediscover the path to physical well-being. 

 

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