One of the most effective ways to avoid breaking a bone is to prevent the event most likely to cause a fracture: falling.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to reduce the risk of falls, one of which was analyzed and found effective in the study we'll examine today.
We'll look at the type of training that the participants of this study engaged in, and examine the results.
About The Study
This study, published in the scientific journal Osteoporosis International, intended to investigate the effect of a year-long balance training program on balance, mobility, and falling frequency in women with osteoporosis.
The researchers divided 66 elderly women with osteoporosis into two groups. One group participated in the study's balance training intervention, and the other served as a control group that did not receive the training. The intervention primarily consisted of one hour of weekly exercises performed under the supervision of an experienced physiotherapist.1
To gauge the effectiveness of the intervention, the following data was collected about each participant:
- Functional Balance – a test based on 14 common daily life activities
- Static Balance – a test requiring participants to maintain balance for 30 seconds on stable or unstable surfaces with different visual input
- Functional Mobility – measured by a timed test requiring the participant to get up out of a chair, walk three meters, then return and sit down again
- Falls – data on falls prior to and over the year-long duration of the study
Researchers divided 66 elderly women with osteoporosis into two groups. One was a control group, and the other received a year of weekly one-hour balance training sessions. Both groups were assessed for functional balance, static balance, functional mobility, and falls, to assess the impact of the training sessions.
The Balance Training Program
The study includes a number of details about the balance training program that you can use when you plan your own balance improvement workouts. The training program sessions consisted of:
- A 15 min of warm-up and stretching exercises: head rotation, shoulder rotation and stretching of the upper and lower limbs
- Walking for 15 minutes and incorporated upper limb exercises throughout the walk
- Balancing in dynamic (moving) and static (still) positions for a period of 30 min
- Dynamic positions included: walking with one foot in front of the other, walking on the tips of the toes and on the heel, walking sideways, walking while raising the leg and the opposite arm
- Static positions included standing on one leg and standing with feet heel to toe, gradually increasing the length of time
In addition to the once-weekly guided training session, the participants were instructed and encouraged to practice the same exercises at home at least three times a week for 30 minutes.
The balance training program included 15 minutes of warm-up movements, 15 minutes of walking and upper limb exercises, and 30 minutes of holding dynamic and static balancing positions. In addition to these weekly hour-long guided sessions, the participants performed half-hour sessions at home at least three times a week.
The Results Of The Study
Before the intervention began, all of the participants took the balance and mobilIty tests, and no differences were found between the two groups' scores. After the year of balance training for the intervention group, all the participants took the tests again.
The intervention group showed a significant improvement in balance after the year of training sessions, showing that the training is effective at improving balance. The control group didn't experience any improvement, so it should come as no surprise that after the year of training, the intervention group had better balance and more mobility than the control group.1
The most exciting result was the change in the risk of falls. The members of the group that improved their balance and mobility over the course of the year were less likely to experience a fall than the members of the control group.1
The takeaway is clear (and quite obvious): if you improve your balance, you reduce your chances of falling.
The researchers found that the balance training was highly effective, creating statistically significant improvement balance and mobility, and ultimately reducing the number of falls that the participants experienced.
Try These Two Balance Building Exercises
Now that we have a simple and proven-effective way to protect our bones from fracture by reducing our chance of a fall, we must put it into action. Try these balance exercises today, and make them a regular part of your workout routine.
The Balance Booster
This balance building exercise is harder than it looks! Make sure you're near a chair or wall to stabilize yourself. A challenging balance-booster is especially gratifying, though, because as your balance improves the move will get easier and easier.
Swinging Balance And Coordination Enhancer
This balance-building move has the added benefits of building your core muscle strength. That will help you maintain good posture and protect your spine during everyday activities. There's also an advanced version that you can move on to once you've gotten the hang of the basic exercise.
Use the two exercises linked above to improve your balance and prevent falls.
What This Means To You
No matter how healthy your bones are, a bad fall can cause a fracture. So every Saver should make balance training part of their workout routine.
That's why SaveTrainer— the Save Institute's video workout class platform — has exercise classes specifically designed for balance improvement.
Whether you're playing with a little one, putting away the groceries, or taking a walk– having good balance is critical for your safety, and the increased mobility and confidence it brings will improve your overall quality of life.