As an Older Adult Specialist, one of the main things that I teach is balance and coordination through exercise. While I have seen many people progress through my programs, some have wondered if you can continue to get better even as you get older. With balance, just like in life, the only way you continue to get better at anything is to go outside of your “comfort zone.” Below are three ways you can go outside of your comfort zone and hopefully improve your balance.
- Challenge yourself – In my programs, I always use chairs as a tool that each participant can choose to use when standing and trying to balance. For safety reasons, if someone feels they are at risk for falling, the chair can always be used as a “safety blanket” to help stabilize them. However, what I have noticed with some participants is that they use the chair all the time — even in exercises where they don’t need it. The best way to not depend on chair is, as you feel more comfortable, to gradually take fingers off it until you don’t need it.
- Try unstable surfaces – I once had taught a class outside on the grass. When conducting this outdoor class, I noticed that even though grass looks flat, it is an unstable surface. An easy way to improve balance is to try practicing on unstable surfaces, which are much harder than flat ground. The instability of the surface forces you to work the little muscles under your feet, thus improving your balance.
- Close your eyes – Closing your eyes makes balancing much harder. While it is important to feel safe before doing this, practicing balance with your eyes closed forces you to use your other senses to stay upright. An easy progression to closing your eyes while balancing is to start with one eye closed and as you feel more comfortable switch eyes or close both eyes.
No one has perfect balance – whether you’re a senior or a teenager. Balance is something we all need to practice. However, with a little initiative and regularly attempting specific exercises, our ability to balance can be significantly improved.
About the Author: Eric Daw is an active aging specialist and the owner of Omni Fitt. Omni Fitt is dedicated to the wellbeing, health and quality of life of people aged 55 and over. Eric motivates and empowers the older adult population to take responsibility for their independence, health and fitness through motivating and positive coaching experiences.