This week, I've been putting together a video about how to improve your balance and why it's important, especially as you age. Having good physical balance helps prevent falls, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older adults.
I interviewed a personal trainer about this and he gave me some great tips on how to build balance and strength to prevent falls and other injuries for people of all ages. I'll get to that in a moment. But first, I want to share a wonderful quote I found as I was doing a little research on the importance of balance topic -- because, of course, thinking about balancing my body got me thinking about balancing my life.
"The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you've lost it." - Anonymous.
Isn't that the truth? Unlike physical balance that you can obviously see or experience, such as the ability to stand on one leg, life balance is kind of elusive. You might not know you've achieved a sustainable level of work-life balance or whatever type of balance you're looking for until you don't have it. And even though you can't "see" that your life is off balance, you definitely know it because you can feel it in your gut. It's that nagging tug or little voice in your head urging you to acknowledge that things are a little off, so you'd better get more sleep, cut back on bringing work home, make an appointment with your therapist, etc.
Losing life balance (you could also call it life strength) can happen slowly and creep up on you. The same is true for your physical balance. You might not realize you're losing the ability to go down a flight of stairs without holding onto the railing until you misstep and take a tumble.
Jon Giese, a personal trainer in Rochester, Minn., says that balance and strength training are essential, especially for people over 65 years of age.
"Strength training and working on balance are critical because they help with our quality of life, joint support, independence and mental health," says Giese.
Giese says that many back, shoulder and neck injuries happen when people do simple daily tasks, such as picking a napkin up off the floor, reaching up to put something on a top shelf or even leaning forward to brush your teeth.
"When you lean forward just 30 degrees or so to brush your teeth, you're putting about four times your body weight on your lower back," says Giese. "Or if you're not accustomed to reaching up to place, say, a five-pound bag of sugar on a shelf, you can hurt your lower back or shoulders or both when you attempt to do so."
Giese says you can help prevent pains, strains and injuries through strength and balance training. And it doesn't take much effort to start seeing results. Of course, you should consult your health care provider before starting any exercise program, but even 10 to 15 minutes a day can make a big difference. Some of the strength and balance-building exercises Giese teaches clients include standing on one leg, standing up and sitting down on a chair without support from your hands and how to use exercise bands. He adds that learning how to do these exercises with good posture and proper technique will also help to prevent injuries.
It's pretty obvious how strength and balance training can help improve your physical health and ability to do things. But how does it boost mental health? Giese says when you are able to function independently, your confidence grows. It is empowering.
Next week in one of my upcoming podcasts, you can watch and/or listen to Giese give easy and usable tips for how to improve balance and other mind/body topics.
Vivien Williams is a video content producer for NewsMD and the host of "Health Fusion." She can be reached at email@example.com.