Uneven sidewalks, steep stairs and even untied shoelaces are just a few daily hazards that could lead to a serious fall. So how do you protect yourself from these everyday obstacles? There are plenty of fun and easy ways to improve your balance and prevent falling no matter your age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five falls causes a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. In addition, 2.5 million people, age 65 and older, are treated in ERs around the country for injuries associated with falls each year.
But the better your balance, the more likely you are to avoid a trip to the hospital and the easier it is to get around, stay independent and carry out simple daily activities like getting out of the car or even putting on a pair of socks.
Ed Bendoraitis, an exercise physiologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital’s Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., says good balance is critical in terms of leading a productive life.
“Without good balance your chance of a fall greatly increases which can cause an injury or even a fear of falling. This can then lead to reduced activities and independence,” says Bendoraitis.
He offers the following tips to help maintain and improve your balance:
- Strengthen your lower body. Walking, biking and taking the stairs will enhance leg muscles, creating a stronger base for your body.
- Practice yoga. A different spin on stretching, yoga provides better awareness of your body while improving both mental and physical balance.
- Try tai chi. Playing a vital role in stability, tai chi targets leg strength, flexibility, range of motion and reflexes.
- Stabilize your core. A strong trunk will go a long way in not only preventing a fall, but also helping you bounce back after taking a tumble.
- Keep moving. The weaker your legs are, the greater your chances of balance issues and falls.