2019-04-03T18:31:59-06:00Wednesday, May 13, 2015|

Fitness Fun with LeeAnn LangdonAs a person ages, the importance of developing and maintaining a good sense of balance becomes very important for good health and quality of life. Preventing falls and maintaining general good health is essential. An active lifestyle offered by a senior living community in Broomfield can make the process more successful and more fun.

Building the Right Muscles

What is balance? It is the ability of the body to compensate for instabilities. In other words, if the goal of exercise is to become more stable and therefore increase balance, one needs to strengthen the muscles that act as stabilizers. Building those muscles, especially in legs, hips, and core, allows individuals to overcome instabilities that occur when standing, walking, and moving.

Improved Functionality for Activities of Daily Living

In addition to building the right muscles, exercise prepares the body for the activities in which people participate in on a daily basis. Exercise can mimic and prepare people for walking, climbing stairs, lifting or carrying objects, moving from standing, sitting, and laying positions, or stepping over something. By preparing the body for these movements and motions in a safe, stable environment, individuals increase the likelihood of remaining uninjured when performing these actions in daily life.

Build Strength and Resistance to Fall-Related Injuries

As adults age, the likelihood of falls increases, and the consequences of taking a fall can be much more severe. Obviously, the best way to avoid these negative consequences is to prevent falls altogether, and improving balance is a great way to work towards that goal. Sometimes, however, even with the best intentions, a fall can occur, and the more fit an individual is, the better their body will be able to handle the impact. Stronger muscles and bones developed through regular exercise can decrease injuries and boost recovery time.

Some Exercises to Start With

Since exercise is important for balance and health, where is one to start? Basic core exercises, simple balancing activities, and functional movements that mimic actions taken in daily life can help individuals build a stronger foundation.

  • The body’s core consists of abdominal muscles, back, and to a certain extent, shoulders, neck, and hips. Basically, it is the muscles of the body minus the arms and legs. The core stabilizes the body during movement, so strengthening those muscles is essential for balance. One great core-strengthening stabilization exercise is a plank. To begin, stand near a wall, and place your hands on the wall at about shoulder height. Slowly inch your feet away from the wall, keeping your body in a straight line, core muscles engaged. Start with 20-30 seconds and gradually increase the duration and the angle at which the body is positioned.
  • Balancing activities help to target the specific muscles used when balancing in real life, and therefore, a simple activity of standing on one leg at a time for 10-20 seconds at a time can help strengthen those muscles and increase an individual’s overall balance. Try different positions for the lifted leg (such as knee bent, leg straight, out to the side, out in front, etc.) to force the body to stabilize in different ways.
  • Finally, including functional movements in exercise programs can prepare an individual’s body for those activities in daily life. Stepping up onto a step or bench, initially with body weight only, then adding a dumbbell or other weight on one side and then the other, helps prepare the body for going up stairs or stepping up onto a curb. The better prepared one’s body is and the stronger those muscles are, the less likely a stumble or fall will occur. Finding a senior living community that helps individuals live an active lifestyle and get the exercise they need can make all the difference in the aging experience.