It Takes Practice

By Jodi Hill

As we move through our daily lives, most of us don’t think about practicing our balance. We walk to strengthen our heart, lungs and overall health. We stretch because it feels good and we know innately that we should try to stay limber. Yet we take our ability to balance for granted.

If it isn’t intentionally practiced, our balance declines as we age and the loss of it can cause us to fall. Case in point – Just the other day I was gardening, as I do often, and when I squatted to pull out a weed, I wobbled. I caught myself, but not until I had scrapped my arm on a nearby rock! I was rushing and not being mindful of finding my center before I lowered my body, but I can also admit that while I’ve been exercising fairly regularly, I’ve let my core balancing movements slide a bit.

Poor balance can also lead to a vicious cycle of inactivity. You feel a little unsteady and don’t want to fall, so you curtail certain activities. If you’re inactive, you’re not challenging your balance systems or using your muscles. As a result, both balance and strength suffer. Simple acts like strolling through a grocery store or getting up from a chair become trickier. That shakes your confidence, so you become even less active.

The great news is that balance is all sorted out in the sensory cortex of your brain. Age dulls our balance senses, and causes us to gradually become less stable on our feet over time. But the brain is a muscle, and just like our other muscles, with regular intentional exercise, we can retrain and rebuild our balance, ultimately keeping us steadier on our feet, full of confidence and ready dance (or jog) our way through our day.