We know that exercise is important to keep us fit and healthy and that is it good for our wellbeing. We know that we need to give our heart a good workout and we need to keep our muscles strong and supple but how often do we think about working on our balance?
Balance is only something we only really think about when we start to feel wobbly or experience a fall . It is so important that the proprioceptive systems involved with balance must be worked and challenged just like we do with our muscular and cardiorespiratory systems. Balance is the foundational skill for any type of movement. Every step requires balance to get from point A to point B.
But did you know that if we have good balance it means that’s our muscles are working together, ensuring that you have better control of your movement. Better control of your movement can lead to improved posture and strength gains which can reduce the amount of joint pain you experience. Better balance can also make us more confident , especially when running around after grandchildren or when walking on uneven surfaces.
One of the most significant factors of improving your balance is that it could help you from experiencing a fall. which for older people is the cause of over 90% of all hip fractures–one of people’s most life-altering (and shortening) injuries.
Balancing exercises can also make you smarter as it can improve your brains neuroplasticity which is the ability of neural networks in the brain to change through growth and reorganization. Improved brain neuroplasticity, which keeps the brain supple and young, can enhance “higher” brain functions like reading, memory, comprehension, remembering dance sequences and mathematics. It is so important to keep improving your brain neuroplasticity as when we get older we experience changes in our proprioceptive systems which reduce our ability to balance and have greater potential to affect our memory.
Interestingly in our experience of teaching dance to older adults we find that when we teach a step that requires balance our dancers just get on with it and complete the step, however when we are warming our dancers up and include balance exercises our dancers do not present as confident possible because the dancers feel more vulnerable to falling. We have even had dancers who have walked into class with a walking stick, left their stick at the side of the room to complete their dance class and walk off home at the end of the session without their stick, when they were dancing they were confident. For better balance awareness week we choreographed a short dance routine which was focused on steps to improve balance. Watch here.
The more we all take time to complete balance exercises in our weekly routine the more confident we will all be.
Why not join our Facebook group Keeping Strong and Steady for balance exercises that you can practice at home. Click here