Have you ever watched a baby learning to sit up, crawl, or walk? It’s fascinating (and often amusing) to watch our balance develop from the beginning. Babies who are first learning to sit up will simply fall over, and new walkers fall often in their quest to move about on two legs. It’s all part of developing the muscles involved in balance.
But babies have a natural “padding” that older adults typically lack, their proportions make them much closer to the ground… and they certainly don’t have to worry about fractures.
Today you’ll discover that it’s never too late to improve your balance. In fact, it’s a lot easier than you might think, so get ready to lose your…
Fear of Falling
As adults, we tend to fear falling. And doctors typically push osteoporosis medications based on the erroneous argument that drugs are essential to prevent the dreaded fractures that can result if we fall.
Ironically, osteoporosis drugs actually increase the risk of fractures by making bones harder and less supple. And as ridiculous as it may sound, bisphosphonates actually list dizziness as one of their many side effects that can impair rather then help balance.
The Eyes Have It
Balance is automatic for most of us. When you stand up and walk across the room, for instance, you don’t have to think through all the muscles involved and consciously tell each body part to work with the other to keep you upright. It’s a good thing, too, because balance is actually a rather complex process. And your vision is a significant part of it.
Your eyesight works with your inner ear and proprioceptive system, which signals your joints and muscles send your brain when you move, to prevent you from falling. If you close your eyes – and I don’t recommend trying this unless you are holding onto something and standing still – you’ll find it’s harder to balance. The same is true if you move your head and eyes around – it’s easier to stay balanced if you keep your eyes focused on a single point.
That brings us to our first balance technique:
#1: Standing with Your Eyes Closed
Stand somewhere safe, such as near your bed, and stand totally still and straight. Then, without moving or changing position, close your eyes. You will probably be surprised at how challenging it can be to stand still with your eyes closed! Once you get comfortable with this, try balancing on one leg with your eyes closed.
If you’re already brushing like a flamingo, this is yet one more challenge you can try. Simply lift one of your legs slowly, raising your knee up as far as you are comfortable with, and hold it for as long as you comfortably can to a maximum of 60 seconds. Then slowly lower your foot back down and switch legs. Just make sure you have something stable to grab on to if needed.
But you don’t have to just stand there! To improve your balance, you can also…
Studies have shown that a dance-based therapy program improved walking speed and balance in older adults. One study in particular demonstrated that participants experienced both improved gait and balance.1 As my readers know, I believe that lifting the spirits and doing something you enjoy are important components to bone health.
#3: Practice Exercises That Improve Your Balance And Muscle Tone
The smartest way to improve balance is to practice certain moves that improve coordination and strengthen your muscles. If you already own Densercise, you’ll be happy to know that the exercises will help you not only increase your bone density, but also improve your balance.
With Densercise, you can do more than prevent and get rid of osteoporosis or osteopenia. You’ll achieve a full body workout that keeps you fit and strong. And there’s no better way to prevent falls!
I hope you will find these 3 ways to improve your balance helpful! I look forward to hearing from you about how you’ve employed one or more of these strategies.
Here in the Save Our Bones community, we’re all about balance – balanced diet, balanced bodies, and balanced minds. So stand tall and enjoy your health!
1 Krampe, Jean et al. “Dance-Based Therapy in a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.” Nursing Administration Quarterly, 34(2):156-161, April/June 2010
Comments on this article are closed.
At the end of my yoga class, before final relaxation, the yoga instructor encourages us to do poses that require us to be upsdied down. I understand these are very good for the spinem=, however, I am not sure they should be done for someone woth not the best bones. What do you recommend? I am extremely limber, but balance takes more work.
(Should add 4 yrs ago I fractured 3 vertrabra from a fall on ice(.
Are there specific exercises for increasing hip bone density?
The results of a recent test shows increase in spine bone density but a slight decrease in hip bone density.
I would suggest you go to Google and type in The Oxygen Miracle. I think it’s the top item. They hint that one who has had a minor stroke may have certain brin cells inactivated because of a blood blockage to those cells. They suggest that a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can help. I know muscles are inportant, but a body builder who has had a few drinks of booze can have problems with balance that he didn’t have before the drinks, so I am inclined to wonder if rejuvenating those blood blocked brain cells isn’t a good explantion. They say the cells are not dead but can be rejuvenated. It’s more complicated than that.
Is The Position Shown, In Strengthen Your Core, A Good One To Start With?
And Thank You Again For All You Do To Help Us Keep Our Bones Healthy!
LOVE, LESLIE (MS. L.)
Thanks Vivian for giving balancing exercises. I recently realised how important this is. I’m seeing a physio for a strained shoulder and he gave me a balancing exercise. With the eyes shut you take one step forward and one step back, using different legs. I was astonished. I couldn’t do it at all; I was wobbling all over the place, even after two days practice. Then the physio told me the nervous system learns quite slowly and it would take around 3 weeks. And that’s how long it has taken me to be able to do this simple exercise. I recomend everyone to try it – you could have quite a shock to see how unbalanced you are!
Thanks for the balance improving exercises. I do the one on my back and lifting body up under the legs dailye.
Question: Should I be doing this exercise as I have Chronic open angle glaucoma.
I have had to stop “downword dog” in YOga because apperently it increases eye pressure.
Can other exercises increase eye pressure as well.
I developed OAG when I took ACTONEL \(ONLY X12 PILL SOVER 12 WEEKS) RAN INTO A LOT OF TROUBLE.
Hi Mary Jean,
Please check with your doctor or physical therapist who is familiar with your health history about what exercises you can and can’t do. Since I am not a doctor, I can’t advise you in this regard. I do commend you, though, on your dedication to staying active and fit!
Your core exercise is not difficult, easy to follow. thanks
5 years ago I broke my ankle in 3 places, discovering a year later that I had osteoporosis. My balance afterwards was dire along with other problems – arthrithis behind a toe and very tight calf ligaments. An excellent podiatrist sorted my toe pain last year and a phiso gave me exercise for the ligaments. However after I got the plaster off I went straight back to my Pilates Class which focus on core muscles. For my age group the instructor focus also on balance and flexibilty and movement of all major joints. I have had friends of my age comment on my flexibilty but best of all, after been useless at balancing, my instructor told me recently that I was now the best in the group at doing the exercises!! In the UK you only have the Dexta Test repeated after 3 years so that’s coming up in the New Year. The support from this web site is what helped me keep firm in my resolve, against opposition, not to take drug treatment. It’s only relatively recently that the succes stories of others have been posted so fingers crossed.
Nuala, thank you so much for sharing that! I’m so glad you found the support you needed here in the Save Our Bones community. And great job at being the best in the Pilates class!
Check out http://www.bonesforlife.com … it’s about bone strength achieved through good postural alignment, brought about by exercise techniques to improve neuro- motor pathways which in turn affects balance. It’s based on the Feldenkrais method.
Can i get some more info on GLUTEN, thank you.
The daily practice of Tai Chi improves balance tremendously! And Pilates is a superb way to strengthen your core. Both Tai Chi and Pilates have had major impacts on my life.
I do Taoist Tai Chi and find it really helpful for balance and stabilization. Some of the moves on one leg I just hold still and see how long I can balance. Some days I do better than others.
I have good balance now, but I do worry I’ll fall
It’s a great e-mail to know that exercising the core
and exercising with your eyes closed help balance.
Dancing, especially free form, where movement is not dictated by a class “leader” like in a gym, not only helps with balance, but also helps release emotional tensions that trap negative energy within our nervous systems. I use it myself: set up a play list on an ipod and just start moving.
Excellent point, Eileen – releasing tension is also good for your health!
I have osteoporosis of the spine with the hump so I won’t be able to do the core exercise on the floor but I do have other video exercises that I can do to compensate.
Your core information is excellent!
I’ll bet those exercises are great, but I do not do DVDs. Give me a book or printout every time, and I’ll learn just fine. Don’t care to go to classes either – too time-consuming, too expensive and, for me, at least, not enjoyable, though I think I might enjoy a dance class if it’s right for me. I’m 81 too, as the last subscriber said, but I don’t seem to have a lot of trouble with balance anyway.
My comment is about the MD’s books you recommended. I know one is dishonest. I trusted him because of you and he took my money and I got one little few pages. Not only that but I was charged an overseas fee and the whole thing was to be in Florida. I’m wiser now, atleast.
After my yoga class I like to spend some time in the gym and I´ve noticed that there is a vibrating plates machine. I´m tempted to try exercising on there as a friend tells me that they can be very good for increasing bone density. Have you Vivian, or anyone slse had any experiance with them.
This is my first “in” to the conversation and I haven´t a clue what an avatar is. Can anyone help me with this?
Those machines do a couple of things:
Strengthens the core because it stimulates the extensor reflexes that keeps us upright.
Second-if done without shoes, it stimulates the pathways that enable us to keep our balance. Although the plate can be done with shoes, the righting reflexes start with strengthening the plantar surfaces of our feet and grasping a surface with our toes. A word of caution: unless you are used to going barefoot, or doing yoga, initially do the balance plate with shoes and gradually work towards not needing shoes.
Seriously irritating semi-invisible ‘pop up’ with
no way of ‘escaping’ due to no ‘X’ visible to opt
out of viewing or participating… aaarrggghhh !!!
…..PUHLEASE….. get your ‘webmaster(?)’ to check
his/her ‘work’ so it stops being ‘antsy / fancy’…
and starts to be “USEFUL/HELPFUL/PRACTICAL” instead.
Better still… put your ‘opt in’ boxes in the margins
as a (100% VISIBLE) permanent feature and stop messing
up your visitors viewing/ reading/ enjoyment experience
(with this thoroughly’old’ and thoroughly’amateur’ form
of ‘forced participation’ by ‘pop up torture’).
It don’t make no friends .. ever .. let me tell you.
The first three rules of web pages have never changed…
keep it simple.. keep it simple.. keep it simple.
(see the ‘submit comment’ button below as a perfect
example of this crazy ‘semi-invisible’ clumsiness.)
I too saw no X in the corner or any way to get rid of the advertising pop-up; finally added my name and email to get it to go away so as to continue reading the post from Vivian, and was informed I am already subscribed!
This is great. I have taken a Fall Fee class given by a Physical Therapist.
I attend NIA Dance classes and Yoga.
At each of these classes we do the very things that you recommend.
I am eighty one and never have had good balance. All of your lessons help.
Great news, Marjorie. Thank you for sharing!
I took PLAQUENIL for yrs. for waht my DR misdiagnosed Lulus–I am healthy & do not take a thing now, but the medciation permanently damaged my Retina. Is it ok to do downward dog in yoga. Or does it matter?