Balance & Mobility

Balance is the ability to distribute your weight in a way that lets you stand or move without falling, or recover if you trip. Good balance requires the coordination of several parts of the body: the central nervous system, inner ear, eyes, muscles, bones, and joints. Problems with any one of these can affect balance. Medical conditions can also affect balance. These include:

·       stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and other disorders of the central nervous system

·       Meniere's disease and other conditions that originate in the inner ear, which can cause vertigo and dizziness

·       cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, which distort vision

·       weakness in major muscles, particularly the thighs, abdomen, and back

·       nerve damage in the legs and feet (peripheral neuropathy) can affect the ability to sense the ground you're standing or walking on.

Other things can also influence balance, including:

·       medications, including antidepressants, drugs for anxiety, pain medication, sleeping pills, antihistamines, and some heart and blood pressure medications.

·       alcohol, which slows reaction time and affects judgment and coordination

A medical exam can identify conditions that may impair balance, and identify drugs that may have side effects that cause lightheadedness.

 

Improving muscle strength in the legs and the core can improve balance. So can exercises like Tai chi that increase flexibility.

Balance & Mobility Articles

Are you healthy enough to age in place?

There are many health-related requirements for living independently in older age. For example, one needs sharp thinking skills in order to manage medications, pay bills, choose clothes for the day, and select and buy groceries; and one needs strength, balance, and flexibility in order to get up from a chair, cook, or clean. People with weakening aspects of health should talk to a doctor for potential solutions to improve or cope with health challenges in order to continue living independently. More »

What is a silent stroke?

Most strokes are caused by a clot that blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Those that damage small areas of brain tissue that don’t control any vital functions are known as silent strokes because they don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. (Locked) More »

Fall prevention program comes up short

A specialized fall prevention program managed by nurses wasn’t able to significantly reduce the risk for serious falls for high-risk adults over age 70, according to a study published July 9, 2020, in the New England Journal of Medicine. More »

Protect your bones with tai chi

Tai chi is a gentle exercise that helps prevent falls and may reduce the chance of a bone fracture. Those who perform tai chi see a 20% to 40% reduction in fall risk. In addition, there is some evidence that tai chi may help reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women, because it is a weight-bearing exercise that can stimulate bone growth. The practice helps reverse age-related changes such as muscle weakness and slow reaction time. More »

Three moves for better spine health

A strong core can stabilize your spine to help keep your lower back healthy and pain-free. The muscles, ligaments, and nerves surrounding the spine can weaken with age or from an injury, which can make movements like twisting, stretching, lifting, and bending difficult. The "big three" exercises—the curl-up, the side plank, and the bird-dog—can help develop a stable spine by strengthening the entire core musculature, from the abdominals to the whole back. More »

A plan for easy stretching

Regular stretching becomes even more important as people age. Flexibility naturally declines over time as muscles lose strength and tone, and ligaments and tendons get tighter, which makes many everyday movements more difficult like reaching overhead, squatting, twisting, and bending over. A simple daily all-around stretching routine can help improve flexibility and mobility. More »

Boning up on osteoporosis

About one in four men older than 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis during their lifetime. Proper bone health not only can help protect men from osteoporosis, but can also reduce their risk of serious breaks or fractures from falls or other injuries. Adopting certain exercises and getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D are the best strategies for keeping bones strong and safe. (Locked) More »

Step up your fitness and safety

Falls continue to be a significant cause of fatal injury among older adults. Lack of mobility and declining strength are the main contributors to falls, but an often unrecognized threat is simply the fear of falling. Practicing simple step-ups at home or in the gym can improve balance, lower-body strength, and confidence. (Locked) More »

Give yourself a lift

Research shows that weight lifting is good medicine for active older adults. While there are many weight-lifting exercises, one move to include in a workout is the deadlift. The short, quick movement is a highly functional exercise that can increase lower-body strength and power, which improves mobility, balance, and stability. (Locked) More »

Shore up your core

Your core muscles, which are those in your torso and pelvis, help you maintain your balance, and allow you to bend, twist and reach. Strengthening them is essential, especially after age 30 when you may start to lose muscle mass. The average 50-year-old who hasn’t done strength-building exercises may have already lost as much as 10% of her muscle mass. More »