More and more seniors are starting to incorporate balance training into their exercise programs. This makes sense when you realize that improving your stability can also help prevent falls, which are the leading cause of injury for people over the age of sixty. Because balance training is rather new, there is a lot of confusion on the topic. Here we will take a look at some of the most common questions about training balance.
What exactly is happening in my body that will result in better balance?
When you do a balance exercise, and you sway slightly from side-to-side or forwards and backwards, your central nervous system is accumulating information about your body’s position. When it notices that you are leaning too far from your center point, it quickly turns on whatever muscles will pull you back to center. The idea behind balance training is that we are teaching the central nervous system to do this process faster and more efficiently.
How often should I do balance exercises?
Improving balance is a lot like learning to play an instrument. Practice makes perfect. The more you train your balance, the better. Ideally, you would do balance exercises every day. If that is not possible, that’s okay. You can still see results as long as you do them three or more times per week.
How long should I do balance exercises for?
Balance training should only take about ten minutes. If you’re used to spending an hour on the treadmill several times a week, this may sound odd to you, but balance exercises are different. You are really training the brain more than anything else. So you don’t need to exhaust your muscles or heart to make a positive impact.
What muscles am I using when I do balance exercises?
To some extent, you are using all of your muscles. There are no specific muscles whose main job is to help you balance. The brain will recruit whatever muscles it needs at the moment to help you stay stable.
The muscles in your feet and legs will activate and relax to pull you slightly one way or the other. Your core muscles turn on to keep your hips over your base of support (your feet). And the muscles of your upper body will flex when needed to move the arms around. This causes your center of gravity to shift slightly. All these muscles are working together under the direction of the brain to keep you in equilibrium.