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Simple Tips to Improve Your Balance

July 21, 2016

By Mary Staackmann, Director of Lifelong Learning

Balance involves many things working together: your inner ear works with your eyes to help you stay oriented, and your muscles and joints stabilize and hold your body in line to keep you balanced. As you move, your body constantly readjusts to keep you balanced over your center of gravity.

Balance training is important for everyone, from athletes to casual exercisers to sedentary people. It is especially important in older adults to work to maintain balance to prevent falls and the injuries and complications that can results. Here are some simple tips to help you keep your balance, prevent falls and injury, and thus maintain and even improve your quality of life.

The old adage “use it or lose it” is definitely true where your balance and safety are concerned. Exercise can help maintain and even partially restore strength and flexibility, even if you've been relatively sedentary. It will challenge and improve your balance system.

One of the best and simplest ways to keep you balance and prevent falls is to get up and walk. It is what your body was designed to do. A 15-minute walk each day is enough to help you maintain your balance. For a more structured approach, try an exercise class designed to improve balance with a focus on body strength and challenging your balance system.

Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
Eat well throughout the day to give your body the nutrition it needs to stay strong and prevent that feeling of dizziness from hunger. Make sure to get plenty of lean protein, vegetables, and stay well hydrated.

Have your Vision and Hearing Checked Regularly
Regular hearing tests and ear exams may help identify any inner ear disorders that can disrupt your balance. Vision problems can make it more difficult to see trip hazards, such as uneven pavement or an object on the floor, which can lead to a fall. Regular vision screenings and proper corrective eyewear reduce this risk.

Review Your Medications with Your Physician
Some medications may have side effects such as dizziness or sleepiness that can negatively impact your balance. Review the side effects of your medication with your physician.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Uneven pavement, slippery surfaces, rugs, objects on the floor, and even the wrong footwear can all throw you off balance. Be alert to your surroundings to help you avoid any possible hazard.

North Shore Senior Center offers a variety of exercise classes, such as Better Balance and Tai Chi. In addition, our Fitness Specialists offer balance screenings and can provide you with information on home safety to limit your risk of falls at home. For more information call 847.784.6030 or email LifelongLearning@nssc.org.