At school we might have played hopscotch and games where we counted how often we could hop on one leg – when we were young if anyone asked us about our balance we would have thought they were mad.
Throughout our lives we’ve probably never given it a great deal of thought – that is until we start to lose our ability to balance.
Have you noticed if you stand on one leg to put your trousers or leggings on, or do you now sit down? What about putting your shoes on – how does that go?
Balance is not something that we are born with – it’s an ability that we learn over time – think about babies becoming toddlers and learning to walk and run without falling. And if we don’t use it, we lose it.
If we lose our ability to balance drugs or surgery won’t solve the problem for us – we may need to relearn the ability so that we have the confidence to move as we grow older.
Globally a lack of balance is being associated with serious health problems. Earlier in 2022, the British Journal of Sports Medicine shared the results of a decade-long study. It involved more than 1700 middle aged participants and concluded that those people who found that they could not balance were at a higher risk of dying early.
And people are unsure as to what causes us to lose our balance – it may be that we are becoming more sedentary in our lifestyles – unfortunately this is now starting at a younger age.
In 2021 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed figures that by 2030 16.4% (or 1.4 billion people) will be aged over 60 and that the populations of “more developed” countries will have aged most rapidly.
Research into how people can be helped has started in many areas around the world. In Australia there is a Falls Lab which aims to train people not to fall over by making them trip in a safety harness. Their approach is to enable brains to re-wire making people quicker and more responsive if they do trip or slip.
So what can you do?
This is an area where prevention is better than cure, and the more you do, the more you practice balancing and generally moving around the better the results – it does have a cumulative effect.
So however you decide to move more the key takeaway is to start before you need to – just 15 minutes a day practicing balance exercises is a great place to start and will improve your balance ability.
If you are interested in finding out more and are unsure where to start contact: