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  • Carol Michaels

Strength Train to Improve Balance

balance, senior fitness, active aging, strength training

It is necessary to strength train because we lose muscle mass as we age. This loss of muscle mass starts slowly in on our 30’s and increases rapidly as we age. We need to have strong muscles in order to have good balance. This loss of muscle may be compounded by medications and orthopedic, vision, and middle ear issues. The good news is that you can reverse this muscle loss at any age by strength training.

Strength training or resistance training is an exercise using weights (or your own body weight) to strengthen and build muscle. It increases the size and strength of the muscle fibers and strengthens the tendons, ligaments, and bones. Strength or resistance training can also decrease your risk of injury and improve balance. It improves balance, agility, coordination, and energy levels.

Resistance training balance exercises will help you regain function and mobility for activities of daily living. Stability exercises can help to enhance both steadiness and leg strength. Balance training will help decrease the likeliness of falling. Falls and fall-related injuries, such as a hip fracture, can have serious consequences. If you fall, it could limit your activities or make it impossible to live independently. Balance and strength exercises can help prevent falls by improving your ability to control and maintain your body's position whether you are in motion or stationary.

Falls are dangerous for older women with weaker bones and for cancer survivors. Cancer survivors are at high risk for osteoporosis due to chemotherapy and cancer medications. If you are nervous about falling, you might withdraw from your daily activities and decrease your quality of life.

The following exercises are aimed at improving your balance and your lower body strength. Start by holding on to a sturdy chair for support. To challenge yourself, start by holding the chair with only one hand. As you improve you will progress to holding the chair with only one finger and eventually you will be able to perform the exercise without holding the chair. To experience the importance of vision in balance, try some of the balance exercises with your eyes closed.

Start your balance exercise routine with the following exercises:

Standing on One Foot: hold for 10 seconds then switch legs

Tightrope: put your heel in front of the toe of the other foot walking a narrow path (put one foot in front of the other as if walking a tightrope)

Calf Raises or Heel Raises: stand in place and raising each heel up and down

Front, Back, and Side Leg Lifts or Raises

Grapevines: stepping sideways while crossing one foot in front, and then in back of the other

Pelvic Tilt: beginning level core strength

Bridge: core and lower body strength

We have balance training programs in the following areas: Short Hills, Livingston, Roseland, Caldwell, South Orange, Maplewood, Montclair, and Verona.

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