3 Reasons Balance Exercises for Seniors Are So Important
I didn’t really understand the importance of balance exercises for seniors until I fell on a rainy evening in Paris, about 5 years ago.
Earlier that evening, I realized that I was late for a meeting with a friend. So, without thinking twice, I power-walked through the city, my impractical black leather shoes dancing across the wet cobble stones.
I don’t remember what happened in the seconds before I fell. All I remember was looking up to see people walking past. I was a stone in a sea of people, an obstacle to be avoided as businessmen, teenagers and mothers rushed to their own appointments.
I realized two things as I lay there, cold rain reflecting off the stones around me. The first was that most people are way too busy to see the world around them. The second was that I needed to take my fitness and balance more seriously. I needed a new pair of walking shoes and I needed to get in shape.
In the years since my accident, I have thought a lot about the importance of balance exercises for seniors. It’s not just a matter of personal safety, although this is important.
There are actually 3 important reasons that each of us needs to take our balance seriously as we get a little older.
Balance Helps Us to See the World on Our Terms
Over the last few years, I’ve grown to love group travel. I have joined Road Scholar on one of their learning adventures. I have also taken a Viking river cruise.
At the same time, there is something about solo travel that appeals to me on a deeply emotional level. I love the feeling of arriving in a new city, its secrets waiting to be discovered.
Unfortunately, as many of us have discovered the hard way, many cities around the world are not easy to navigate. Some of them have poorly maintained streets and sidewalks. Others have beautiful cobble stones and ancient rocky paths.
For a few months after my fall in Paris, I avoided going to new cities by myself. I was simply too scared of falling by myself, especially since no-one reached out to help me on my previous “trip.”
Now, with two years of gentle yoga behind me – and a new pair of sturdy walking shoes under me – I have the confidence to explore the world on my terms.
If you want to explore the world in your 60s, 70s or 80s, taking your balance seriously is incredibly important.
Better Balance Means Fewer Falls
As women in our 60s, we don’t like to think of ourselves as “seniors.” Even if we fit the age range, we feel like we break the mold.
Many of us are still working. We have 20-30 years ahead of us. Why would we want to start worrying about issues that only impact “old people?”
Unfortunately, when it comes to accidents, it doesn’t matter how old you are in your head – it matters how stable you are in your body.
Did you know that falls are the number one cause of serious brain injuries in the U.S.? Perhaps this is to be expected, when you consider that, according to the CDC, 2.5-million people seek emergency care for falls every year in America.
Many people are nervous about starting an exercise routine to improve their balance. Some feel that they might fall and hurt themselves. Others are embarrassed by how bad their balance has become.
In reality, it is much better to work on your balance in a structured environment than it is to wait for something unexpected to happen. Many community centers teach balance exercises for seniors. Gentle yoga, or even chair yoga for seniors, is also a good option.
Balance is a Huge Confidence Builder
Women of our generation are challenging aging stereotypes and living life in our own way. At the same time, sometimes our desires have a tendency to become disconnected from our physical reality.
It seems strange to say, but the way that we walk has a big impact on our psychology. When you are able to stand up straight, you feel more confident. When you have good balance, you are more willing to do the things that make you truly happy.
The next time that you go out for a walk, pay attention to your footsteps. Are you walking with confidence? Do you feel steady? Think about how your balance makes you feel
Society teaches us that big results require big changes. When it comes to getting the most from life after 60, society is wrong. Sometimes the biggest changes come from the smallest steps. Working on improving our balance is an excellent example of this.
What are you doing to improve you balance? Have you found any good YouTube videos on this topic? Have you tried gentle yoga or chair yoga? Please join the conversation.