Does balance go south starting at 40?

News Briefs

Balance exercises can help prevent falls. And here's a reason why you shouldn't wait to work on your balance skills: A small study from Harvard researchers, published online Oct. 3, 2016, by Frontiers of Neurology, suggests that the vestibular system in the inner ear (which helps detect motion and maintain balance) starts to decline early in middle age and gets worse with each passing decade. Researchers tested 105 healthy people, ages 18 to 80, and measured how sensitive they were to different types of motion. People age 40 or older had trouble perceiving motions correctly and passing a standardized balance test. The older they were, the harder it was to pass the test. And using information from other studies, the researchers speculated that as many as 150,000 people may die each year from falls related to vestibular problems. While that's speculation, one thing is certain: it's never too early to improve your balance.