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

Better balance: Mental and physical fitness are both essential

Falls can cause major bone fractures, which are dangerous. Fear of falling can be positive if it leads to taking steps to improve balance and bone strength. Walking and other leg-strengthening exercise improves balance. Following basic guidelines for calcium and vitamin D intake are recommended to maintain bone strength. Strong bones are less likely to fracture if a fall occurs. Medications that can cause dizziness and the use of bifocals and trifocals that can blur the walking surface can also lead to falls. Making changes in the home environment, such as installing bathtub grab bars, can reduce fall risk. (Locked) More »

Fall prevention: What works?

Researchers have identified several effective fall prevention strategies, including home safety modifications, home-based exercise programs, tai chi, cataract surgery, changes to medication doses, and anti-slip shoes. (Locked) More »

Walking: Your steps to health

The benefits of walking extend to many aspects of health and fitness. Incorporating walking into one's daily routine is an excellent starting point. More »