Want to Have Better Balance and a Sharper Brain in Your 60s? Try This Today!
Do you want to have better balance? Would you also like to boost your brain fitness? Not only are both possible, but you can do them at the same time!
Doing targeted balance exercises, at the right level for you, can improve your balance and help you feel steadier and more confident on your feet.
Performing activities that stimulate your brain can improve your cognitive function at any age. The great news is that, if you do these at the same time as your balance exercises, you get double the results and have more fun!
The opportunities to boost your brain function and improve your balance are endless (and great fun too).
Should I Be Doing Balance Exercises?
If you aren’t having trouble with your balance, you will want to work hard to maintain it, before any problems develop. And if you are having difficulties, you must do exercises to improve or at least to prevent further decline.
The key is to do exercises that are at the right level for you – not so easy that you could do them in your sleep, not so hard that you feel unsteady and worried about falling.
How About Brain Stimulation Exercises?
But can I improve my brain function at the same time? Indeed, you can! Until recently, we thought that our brains were hardwired in childhood and things would only deteriorate over time.
Neuroscientists have now discovered that we can do two amazing things with our brain at any age:
- One, we can grow new brain cells, a process called neurogenesis, and
- Two, we have also learned more about the ability of our brains to change throughout life. This process, called neuroplasticity, means that our brains can grow and specialise in response to external factors and stimulation.
You know that the “move it or lose it” principle applies to your body as you get older. In the same vein, we must recognise that “use it or lose it” applies to your brain. The more you stimulate and challenge your brain cells, the healthier your brain will be.
Why Should I Combine Brain Boosts with Balance Exercises?
In real life, we are rarely doing just one thing at a time. When we are in a class or exercising quietly at home, we have the luxury of concentrating on a specific balance exercise. It’s great to do this sometimes (and it does help to improve our balance).
However, more often than not, when we need to deploy our balance skills in everyday life, we don’t have that luxury.
Maybe we are rushing down the stairs at home to answer the door, trying not to trip over a sleeping cat. Perhaps we are stepping off the bus and looking out for children racing down the street on scooters.
Or we are out, walking on uneven cobblestones in a foreign city, looking up at the historic architecture – and not watching our feet.
In real life, we are rarely able to focus 100% on our balance. So, our training must reflect this. We must practice maintaining our balance while our brains are otherwise occupied.
How Will This Help to Improve My Balance?
When your brain is busy concentrating, the other areas that control our balance (eyes, ears, muscles, and joints) have to work harder to keep us steady. This additional challenge translates into everyday life when we need to maintain our balance in the face of various obstacles and distractions.
Here are two combination Brain & Balance exercises you can try today.
When doing balance training, remember to:
- Stand close to something you could hold onto (just in case). A tall chair, table or kitchen worktop is good.
- Stand up tall with good posture.
- Keep breathing (it’s really easy to hold your breath when you concentrate!).
Watch the videos to see which brain & balance boosts we try together. Don’t’ worry – do the best you can and have fun!
Brain + Balance Boost #1: One Leg Stand Plus Mental Challenge:
Technique tip: When you stand on one leg, keep pulling up tall and stay aligned (don’t let yourself tip to one side).
Brain + Balance Boost #2: Tandem Stand Plus Brain Boosts
Technique tip: When you do the tandem stand, check that your weight is evenly distributed over both feet.
Also, if you feel too unsteady in this position, take the front foot slightly to the side to give yourself a wider base of support.
Variety is the Spice of Life and Crucial for Brain Training
One of the key principles of brain training is variety. So, we have to keep shaking things up! Here are some more ideas for brain boosters you can try when doing balance exercises:
- Work out complicated maths sums (the sillier, the better!). Sometimes, my son has me go on doubling numbers for as long as I can. It starts simply with three plus three, but before you know it you are dealing with some crazy numbers.
- Do your balance exercises while watching a general knowledge or other quiz show (e.g., University Challenge, Countdown, etc.). You can join in and do your exercises at the same time.
- Speak in a foreign language. You could try translating today’s newspaper or pretend to be telling someone what you did yesterday.
- Try to memorise a poem or song, or to recite something from memory.
- Draw or write in the air with your hands. You can try making different shapes with each hand. Try this Brain Boost video while standing on one leg or in a tandem stand:
Here are some bonus brain boosters you can do with a friend or family member:
- Play a word game; maybe a word association game.
- Or the first/last letter game. You choose a category (e.g. cities). You can only say the names of towns and cities, and they always have to start with the final letter of the previous one, e.g., Paris – Seattle – Edinburgh – Houston, etc.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about these fun brain/balance combination exercises. If you want more exercises to improve your balance, take a look at our free, four-week Balance Boost video series.
These online videos are short, clear and easy to follow. They will help you to feel steadier on your feet and more confident.
Why do you want to improve your balance? How do you feel about your brain health? Which of these brain/balance combinations will you try? Join the conversation below!