Try this: Grab a watch with a second hand. Take a few deep breaths. Stand close to a wall, chair or support. Choose your dominant leg. Lift your other foot off the ground. Start the timer. How long can you balance on one leg? Switch legs and try it again. Surprised? If you’re feeling bold and want a reality check, try again with your eyes closed. Surprised now? Check out the condensed results below from this study by Barbara Springer to see how you compare with your age mates.
|Age Groups in Years(both genders)||Eyes Open(average in seconds)||Eyes Closed(average in seconds)|
|18 – 39||43.3||9.4|
|40 – 49||40.3||7.3|
|50 – 59||37.0||4.8|
|60 – 69||26.9||2.8|
|70 – 79||13.9||1.6|
|80 – 89||9.3||1.3|
Condensed from: Normative Values for the Unipedal Stance Test with Eyes Open and Closed; Barbara A. Springer, PT, PhD
As we age, our ability to balance can diminish… slowly, but surely—especially if we spend a lot of time sitting, being inactive, or only walk occasionally and only on flat surfaces, as opposed to trails or uneven ground. Or we can lose our ability to balance as a result of injury.
Here’s the good news: You can improve your physical balance with a little practice and intention. And it’s not that hard. Check out this video on YouTube by Ask Doctor Jo:
If you have balance issues that are not a result of vertigo or inner-ear problems, odds are that through conscious effort and practicing these simple exercises you can strengthen your ankles and core, improving your balance in the process. I can tell you from my own experience, as well as that of my clients, you can regain your essential ability to balance—in the physical realm, that is.
How about the Bigger Balancing Act?
What about balance in your life? Between earning a living, providing for family, caring for pets, tending to chores, and tripping through social media, living in the Information Age can be a three-ring circus. Don’t you wish it was as simple as adding a few exercises to your routine?
The issue of maintaining life balance can be tricky and elusive, compounded by countless responsibilities—real or imagined, from external sources or self-imposed. The going can get rough if you’re simply unaware of—or not using—your power to make choices that are in your best interest. It’s possible that true balance in life may be unattainable—we may need the waxing and waning of stresses and time spent out of balance to appreciate our lives more fully. The roses always smell sweeter after it rains.
Maybe what really matters is developing a life and lifestyle that has your best interests at the core, and as a result, you will be better able to handle the ebb and flow of balance that comes with the human experience.
One of those core interests that will help you maintain balance should be taking care of your magnificent body. What does that look like?
The latest research floating around the internet is that each of us needs to engage in “moderate exercise” three to five times per week for a grand total of around 150 minutes. I am disinclined to put a number to it; however, this I know: If I go without exercise for three days, I feel really lousy—emotionally and physically. Likewise, if I train for six or seven days straight, I usually run the risk of injury or exhaustion, neither of which serve me. So, here’s the exercise balancing act that supports my lifestyle:
- Walk every day. Period. Aim for half an hour.
- Bike six days a week—commuting to and from the workplace and running errands.
- Strength and metabolic training three times per week for a half hour each session. In and out.
It can vary in intensity depending on how the week is going, but I have come to realize that I feel better when I commit to these elements in my own private balancing act. Solid core. Unipedal balance off the charts for my age group. Feeling strong. What works for you?
Here’s to finding your balance in all aspects of your life.