As we get older, our balance starts to decrease. This is important because when we lack balance, our predisposition to falls and, as a consequence, injury increases. In recent years, a slew of balance aids have appeared on the market, from wobble boards to Bosu balls. These promise results with specific workout programmes. However, in order to find balance, we can substitute these with a simple exercise performed daily while we brush our teeth. Namely, standing on one leg.
In studies funded by the European Union and the UK Medical Research Council, a team of researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University have looked at balance in people of different ages. The team, led by Jamie McPhee, professor of musculoskeletal physiology, found evidence of a sharp decline in balance as people age. They found that young adults were easily able to stand on one leg for 30 seconds with their eyes closed. However, the average 70-year-old could only manage four to five seconds, regardless of how fit and strong they are. Other trials conducted among people in their fifties have also produced interesting findings. Those who could stand on one leg for ten seconds with their eyes closed are more likely to be fit and well later in life than those who had less balance.
McPhee says that “to start off, we should balance on one leg with our eyes open. Then, we should then progress to eyes closed until we can manage 30 seconds on each leg”. He added “after this, we should try squatting down on one leg – or move our centre of mass by swaying on one leg – with our eyes closed. Ultimately, the aim of this is to challenge our balance every day.”
ACTIVITIES TO HELP FIND BALANCE
Activities such as Tai Chi, Pilates and Yoga are a great way to help us find balance. At the Putney Clinic, we offer both online and in-studio classes through our colleagues at Yoga Mama Wellness. To discover which classes are currently running, consult our class timetable.
Source: The Times Wellness (article by Peta Bee)