Strong, supple leg muscles are vital for coordination and balance, and for an energetic, youthful gait – key components of avoiding falls that could lead to broken bones. And data continues to reiterate just how important fall avoidance is in preventing fractures.
So this weekend’s challenge is geared toward strengthening the femur and thigh muscles to enhance your gait, coordination, and balance. As its name denotes, the 3 Way Femur Builder And Balance Improver works each leg three ways, covering multiple angles and ranges of motion.
Let’s get to it!
As we age, balance has a tendency to get less reliable, making the elderly more prone to falls than young people. This doesn’t mean you have to accept poor balance as you get older. It just means that it’s a good time to offset this tendency by including balance-specific exercises into your daily routine.
Why Does Balance Decrease With Age?
There are quite a few reasons why balance gets less efficient in the elderly. To understand this, it helps to know a bit about how balance works.
Staying upright while you walk, run, jump, or otherwise stand on your feet involves a complex but lightning-fast interplay between the brain, eyes, inner ear, and your body’s various sensory systems (muscles, joints, skin, etc.).
The eye sends signals to your brain regarding your orientation in space. If you’ve ever tried to stand on one foot with your eyes closed, you know how difficult it can be to stay upright without visual cues.
Your sense of touch, subtle changes in the angle of your joints, and muscle responses to changes in position all send signals to the brain on a regular basis, telling your “central command” where your body is and what needs to be done to keep you upright.
Your inner ear is also an extremely important player in the act of balancing. Each of your three semicircular canals, located deep in the ear, contain fluid and hair-like sensors to detect head movement. If you tilt your head, for example, the movement of the fluid triggers the sensors, which then send a message to your brain so you don’t fall in the direction your head is tilted.
All together, these body parts make up the vestibular system, the body system responsible for balance.
If the vestibular system determines that you’re about to fall, it signals the brain to take immediate corrective action, such as putting one of your legs out, twisting your torso upright, or leaning to one side or the other. Have you ever felt your muscles tense and almost seem to “yank” you back from a fall? I know I have. It’s amazing how efficient the body is at this delicate balancing act.
But as we age, the vestibular system gets less efficient as cells involved begin to die off…that is, if the system is not stimulated by exercise. In addition, eyesight may be compromised, which results in less efficient visual orientation. And finally, if not worked regularly, muscle loss typically occurs, especially as we age.
Effective balance exercises stimulate the vestibular system, giving it “practice” so to speak. This is an important aspect of the twofold way to prevent fractures, which we are going to look at next.
Prevent Fractures Two Ways (Balance And Bone Strength)
When you get down to it, the overarching purpose of reversing bone loss and rejuvenating bone is to prevent fractures. To do this effectively, both balance and bone strength need to be addressed.
Balance exercises bridge the gap between these two concepts, using the action of muscle on bone (as per Wolff’s Law) to build bone density and enhance balance at the same time.
Today’s challenge targets the femur bone, which is of utmost importance in both balance and fracture prevention. Research shows that the vast majority of femur fractures in the elderly require hospitalization (more on that below).
The 3 Way Femur Builder And Balance Improver also works the knee, hip, and ankle joints, honing the fine muscle coordination these joints need for proper balance.
So here’s how to perform this weekend’s balance-enhancing, bone-building move.
It’s a good idea to stand near a bed, wall, or chair for this exercise in case you have trouble balancing on one leg. For the sake of clarity, we will start with the left leg.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands in front of your chest (this is basically to get your hands out of the way – if you need to, you can move your arms for balance as you get the hang of this move).
- Lift your right leg and bring it forward as you go down into a squat with your left leg. Lightly touch the floor in front of you with the toes of your right foot, and then come back up as you bring your right leg back in.
- Now go down into another one-legged squat with your left leg, but this time bring your right leg out to the side and lightly touch the ground with your right toes. Come back up as you bring your right foot back in.
- Go down into a squat for the third time, still with your left leg, and bring your right leg out behind you, not unlike a lunge. Lightly tap the floor with the toes of your right leg, and then bring it back in and stand up.
- Switch legs and repeat. After doing all three steps on both sides, it’s considered a rep. A good goal is five reps, and don’t worry if you can’t reach that goal, especially at first.
To round out your fall-prevention workout, try combining today’s challenge with the Femur Strengthener And Coordination Enhancer, another Weekend Challenge that addresses similar areas of the body.
Research Clarifies The Importance Of Fall Prevention In Avoiding Fracture
There’s a reason why balance is often emphasized in the various bone-density exercises presented in the Weekend Challenges and in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System. As mentioned earlier, preventing falls is of utmost importance in avoiding fractures, as the following study shows.
Researchers studied the circumstances behind the proximal femur fractures of 911 individuals, all of whom were hospitalized in two hospitals in Aukland, New Zealand. More than half (66 percent) of the individuals were over the age of 80, and most notably, “ninety-six percent of the fractures were associated with a fall.”1
The study goes on to conclude that the vast majority of fall-related fractures “among the old” were due to intrinsic factors (i.e., conditions within the body) and were not “associated with an environmental hazard.”1
Hence this conclusive statement:
“Strategies aimed at preventing fall-related hip fractures among the old old [sic] and among institutionalized individuals should focus primarily on the modification of intrinsic factors.”1
Regular balance exercises provide this modification. Given the importance of balance and coordination, then, you may be interested in exploring other ways to improve and sharpen your vestibular system.
Densercise™ Includes Many Moves Designed To Improve Balance
Among the 52 exercises included in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, many of them are aimed at improving the vestibular system. That’s because this concept of fall avoidance was well understood when I developed Densercise™ years ago.
Quoting from the Introduction:
“In addition to conditioning your body, regular exercise improves balance and flexibility, which can prevent falls that may result in fractures.”
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Once again, regular exercise holds the key to yet another aspect of bone health. And Densercise™ is way ahead of the game in bringing you the specific, targeted moves you need to build your bones and improve your balance.
Enjoy the weekend!
1 Norton, Robyn, PhD, et al. “Circumstances of Falls Resulting in Hip Fractures Among Older People.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Volume 45. 9 (1997): 1108-1112. Web.