Balance is crucial to one’s overall mobility and quality of life, yet how often do you intentionally engage in balance-strengthening activities? This also becomes increasingly important as we age, as maintaining one’s balance and stability is crucial for preventing falls. In fact, one in four older adults will experience a fall each year, which can lead to fractures, hospitalization and even death.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of falls and injuries is to practice regular activities that engage and strengthen your balance. Here are some suggested strategies from our team at Newcastle Place that you can incorporate into your daily routine. However, note that you should always speak to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
Assess Your Fall Risk Factors
Before creating a balance exercise plan, it can be helpful to understand your current abilities. This can help you target areas to improve. At Newcastle Place, we offer all residents access to VSTBalance and VirtuSense, automated fall-risk assessment tools that utilizes artificial intelligence with machine vision to identify fall risk indicators.
The evaluation only takes a few minutes. It then creates a report that assists residents in identifying early deficits in balance, gait and function. Treatment plans can then be developed using engaging biofeedback activities. These activities assist in reducing falls and improving mobility.
This type of risk assessment and the creation of unique, personalized plans has been shown to:
- Reduce post-acute care falls by 73%
- Improved mobility for residents by 85%
Those without access to such a program can speak to a healthcare professional about possible alternatives for identifying their risk factors.
Balance Exercises and Alternatives
Balancing is a complex skill, which involves a number of bodily systems working in tandem to keep you upright and stable. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to maintain this balance, as it encourages these systems to work together regularly. Exercise can also slow muscle atrophy and prevent bone loss, both of which could lead to an increased risk of injury if one does experience a fall.
Hiking and Walking
Hiking trails provide a great way to experience nature while getting exercise. Trails vary in difficulty, allowing you to find the best option for your fitness level. Additionally, walking on uneven terrain can help you maintain your balance as you age. Just make sure you prepare properly for your hike.
Modified Option: Walking
You don’t need to go on long or strenuous hikes to reap the benefits of walking. If hiking trails are too difficult or too far away to be easily accessed, simply walking around your local neighborhood can provide a great way to get some fresh air while maintaining your agility. This is also a great option for those who require mobility assistance. Here at Newcastle Place, our residents have access to numerous walking trails onsite, which are also wheelchair accessible.
Yoga and Stretching
Yoga is great exercise for people of different ages and abilities. In addition to being a great way to improve balance, yoga can also improve strength and muscular endurance.
Modified Option: Chair Yoga
The balance exercises found in a chair yoga routine can help older adults stay fit and limber. In addition to being a great option for those with existing balance issues, chair yoga can provide an introduction to more traditional yoga options for those looking for a more lowkey introduction to this form of exercise.
Recommendation: Bodyweight Exercise Routines
Bodyweight exercises are a great way to maintain muscle and practice balance without requiring any special equipment. Most balance exercise routines feature simple movements which can be done nearly anywhere.
Modified Option: Modified Bodyweight Exercise Routines
One of the benefits of bodyweight exercise is that it can be modified to be accessible to individuals of all fitness levels. Bodyweight squats can be modified to be chair squats, wall push-ups can help train the upper body and many other movements can be incorporated into a routine for a well-rounded workout.
Stay Engaged at Newcastle Place
At Newcastle Place, our residents’ wellness comes first. Newcastle Place exemplifies the charm and elegance of the greater Milwaukee region, providing curated lifestyles for sophisticated adults at every stage of life. Enjoy customizable apartments, extraordinary dining experiences, and a variety of fitness and social activities to keep you engaged. Residents also get access onsite to VirtuSense and VSTBalance, a rehabilitative technology that reduces falling risks by improving balance and increasing mobility through biofeedback activities.
Contact us to discover more about our lifestyle options, or schedule a tour to see our community for yourself.