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.
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.