Harvard Men's Health Watch

Better balance: Mental and physical fitness are both essential

Daily physical activity, targeted balance exercises, and steps to maintain your brain all help prevent falls.

If you've ever seen a friend or family member fall and suffer a major fracture—especially in the hip or spine—you know it's serious business. General physical fitness and targeted exercises to improve balance can prevent falls. But so can staying mentally active to maintain cognitive fitness. A sharp mind helps you to think—and stay—on your feet.

"We need careful planning of our movements, decision making, reaction time, and attention," says Brad Manor, PhD, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Mobility and Falls Program, Hebrew SeniorLife of Boston. "Staying mentally active is very important to avoiding falls."

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »