4 Ways Balance Exercises Can Change Your Life After 50
In my experience, most older adults don’t think about the importance of balance exercises until they have a scare. Perhaps, like me, they experience a fall. Or, maybe they see an older relative struggling to stay independent because of his or her lack of balance.
Whatever the reason, there is a point in each of our lives when we suddenly realize how much we have taken our balance for granted over the years.
Today, I want to talk about why balance exercises are not just about fall prevention. Improving your balance is actually a gateway to a happier and healthier life after 50.
But, first, let me tell you about my story…
I’m No Newbie When it Comes to Falls
Before I started to take balance exercises seriously, I had 3 serious fall. In the first, I tripped, while trying to skip down the street in Ibiza (no, I hadn’t been drinking, thank you very much!) I broke my arm. The second was in Zurich when I fell and broke my glasses. The final straw came when I fell in Paris and broke a tooth.
In many ways, I consider myself lucky. Unlike the 1000s of people who suffer traumatic brain injuries or die from a fall every year, I escaped with only minor injuries. My story could have turned out very differently!
After my fall in Paris, I said, “Enough is enough!” I decided to trade in my stylish shoes for more practical footwear. I took up yoga, even going so far as to spend two months in Bali. I also started doing balance exercises at home, once in the morning and once at night.
As a result of these decisions, my life has dramatically improved over the last few years. If you are on the fence about taking balance exercises seriously, I hope that I can offer a little inspiration to push you over the edge (pun intended!)
Here are a few ways that focusing on balance exercises can improve your life after 50. It worked for me and it can work for you too!
Let’s Get the Obvious Out of the Way – Avoiding Falls
I don’t want to dwell on this benefit of balance exercises too much. After all, it’s obvious that none of us wants to have a serious fall. At the same time, I find that most people don’t understand just how serious falls can be until they look at the statistics.
Consider this… according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S. alone, in 2013, 2.8-million people were admitted to emergency rooms with traumatic head injuries. Fully 47% of these cases, or 1.3-million people, were caused by falls!
The older we get, the more we need to take fall prevention seriously. This means fall proofing our homes, doing balance exercises, getting fit and avoiding dangerous situations.
Don’t be a statistic! Find a set of balance exercises that work for you and start doing them today!
Balance Exercises Are a Gateway to Better Overall Fitness
Balance exercises are not just a way to avoid falls, they can also help you to improve your physical fitness.
When I talk with other women my age, I am amazed by how sedentary many of us have become. We know that we need to walk, hike, travel, lift weights and dance. We just don’t feel like we have the motivation, energy or confidence to get started.
Balance exercises are a great way to start your new fitness plan. First, you can do them at home, in the privacy and comfort of your living room. Second, they are accessible for people of all fitness levels and ages. Finally, they are a great way to build confidence, strength and, if you combine them with a little yoga, flexibility.
Set yourself a goal. Promise yourself that you are going to do balance exercises or take a yoga for balance class for two weeks and see how you feel.
At the end of the two weeks, choose one physical activity that you are going to try. It could be a sport. Or, you could just commit to go for a brisk walk every day. No matter what you choose… just get moving!
Better Balance = More Confidence = More Exploring
Our 50s, 60s and 70s should be a time for exploring! There is so much in this world to see and only a limited time to see it.
After my first fall, I was nervous about traveling – especially by myself. I worried about what would happen if I fell in a strange country, particularly in one that didn’t have the best medical system. So, I pulled back on travel and stuck close to home. What a mistake! I will never get those years back!
Whether you are single or married, your ability to travel should only be limited by two factors – time and money. Confidence shouldn’t be an issue!
After I started to improve my balance through yoga and balance exercises, I felt my confidence growing. Over the last few years, I have hiked through the hills of Myanmar, walked through the jungles of Bali, gone on a textiles tour through rural India and had many other adventures.
None of this would have been possible if I had not started to take my balance seriously.
Balance Exercises Are One of the Best Ways to Stay Independent
Did you know that one of the main reasons older adults eventually have to move into assisted living is poor balance, resulting in a fall?
This is important because so many of the other reasons that older adults need support are out of our control. We can’t control how our brains respond to old age. We have limited control over whether we get cancer or another serious illness. But, we can start taking steps now to improve our balance.
I don’t know about you, but, I want to stay independent for as long as possible. Doing a few balance exercises in the morning seems like a small price to pay for being able to stay close to my friends and family in the best years of my life.
Don’t Wait! Take Action Today!
No matter how you decide to improve you balance, I hope that you get started today. After all, as a Nike commercial that I once saw said, “Yesterday, you said tomorrow.”
After my last fall, I started looking for a yoga teacher to help me improve my balance. I liked Cat Kabira so much that not only did I ask her to teach me but I also recorded a yoga for balance video series. These videos will be releasing very soon!
Of course, I would love you to check my yoga for balance DVD series out when it’s available. But, if you decided to get a book on balance exercises from the local library, that’s fine too!
The main thing is that you start improving your balance today!
Do you worry about your balance? What is the main reason that you would like to improve your balance? Please join the conversation!