ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide – and they’re often due to a problem with balance. But doctors don’t have an easy way to check balance like they do with blood pressure or cholesterol. Now, a simple 10 second test could measure your balance.
How good is your balance? An easy way to find out is to try this simple test: stand on one foot for ten seconds. And, you get three tries! In a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 20 percent of the older adults tested didn’t pass the test. The study also found the inability to balance was linked to a two-fold risk of death within ten years. If you failed the test, don’t fret. There are ways to improve your balance! Strength training, aerobics, tai chi, and yoga poses can all help with stability.
“What yoga does is it calms you down and allows you to be more aware of your body and aware of your surroundings.” Explains Angie Winn, Owner, Loft on Main.
This simple mountain stance is a good place to start. Make sure your feet are firmly rooted on the ground. Tree pose is another good one for beginners. Place your hand on a chair at first if you’re wobbly. This halfmoon pose can also help you improve balance. Use a yoga block for support if you need it. And, triangle pose can increase your flexibility while prompting you to remain steady and stable. Remember to breathe through your poses and remain calm.
Winn also says, “The more that we can calm down and become focused, then, the more our balance will improve quickly.”
With ways to improve your balance. Balance test.
If you try the one-legged test, it’s a good idea to have a wall or a chair nearby for safety in case you need support. And after you have mastered it with your eyes open, try it with them closed, but keep that chair close!
Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa,
10-SECOND BALANCE TEST
BACKGROUND: There are many things that can be done to maintain muscle strength and flexibility as you age. An improved sense of stability or balance protects you from future falls, as well as gives you better mobility, fewer injuries, and a greater ability to push yourself further during exercise. As we age, falling becomes a more serious problem. Falling kills more women every year than breast cancer. It’s good to test your balance periodically. One way is standing with feet together, ankle bones touching, and arms folded across chest. Close your eyes and have someone time you. It’s normal to sway a little, but you should be able to stand for 60 seconds without moving your feet. There are some strategies to help strengthen the core and lower body muscles that keep you steady on your feet. Some of those are standing on one leg, balancing on a wobble board, taking a yoga class, walking heel to toe, and getting a good night’s rest.
BALANCE AND BRAIN HEALTH: A study published in the journal, Stroke, focused on nearly 1,400 men and women with an average age of 67 who tried to balance on one leg for one minute. Researchers then performed MRI scans of participants’ brains to assess their small blood vessels. Results indicated that people who could not break the 20-second barrier had higher incidences of reduced cognitive function, micro bleeding in the brain, and small lacunar infarctions, a minor stroke that is sometimes undetected. “Vision, inner ear and problems in the cerebellum, as well as sensation in the feet and leg weakness, can all impact balance,” said Dr. Shari Rosen-Schmidt, co-medical director of the Stroke Program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano. “If you can’t stand on one foot for 20 seconds, especially if you could before, maybe you should be further evaluated for vascular problems and other issues affecting balance.” Stroke is the nation’s fifth-leading cause of death, and even though stroke risk increases as people age, and factors such as family history play a major role, a healthy lifestyle can also make a big difference.
NEW STUDY SHEDS LIGHT ON BALANCE: Deficits in balance have been observed in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Researchers in Japan have shed new light on the nature of these balance deficits in neurocognitive disorders, which may have important implications for understanding the progression of these diseases. The studies measured balance ability in individuals with AD and MCI using the index of postural stability, IPS, which is an indicator of balance ability that is assessed using a stability platform known as a stabilometer. They evaluated IPS under four sets of conditions: open eyes/hard surface, closed eyes/hard surface, open eyes/soft surface, and closed eyes/soft surface. Findings suggested that the vestibular and/or balance-sensing systems were more severely impaired in people with AD. These results indicate that changes in balance due to deficits of the vestibular hippocampal pathway may serve as a potential marker for the diagnosis of MCI and the progression of MCI to AD.
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