Home exercise How to improve balance and reflexes

How to improve balance and reflexes

written by Vidya Sury January 22, 2011

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Aging is a fact of life. And as we age, we need to ensure good balance, particularly for those of us who suffer from osteoporosis which means weaker bones. When bones are weak, the risk of serious injury even from a minor fall is multiplied.

How to avoid falls? You can work on the three major areas –

  • flexibility
  • reflexes
  • lower body strength
Here are simple ways to make sure you work on these three areas:

Get up, Stand Up!
An easy way to test your lower body strength is to sit in a sturdy chair and try to stand without using your arms to help you up. Can you do that? If yes, great! If not – your risk of falling is three times higher than normal. You need to check out lower body exercises to help you stay on your feet.

Work your heels and toes
Weak and inflexible ankles mean a greater risk of serious falls. You do need ankles that bend easily to get back that balance when you begin to topple. But how do you know if your ankles are flexible? Do these tests to find out:

1. Stand facing a counter. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the counter to balance yourself. Now lift yourself on the balls of your feet. Your heels must be at least two inches off the ground when you do this. Have your partner or a friend crouch behind you while you’re elevated.

2. Stand with your back against a wall, with your feet about four inches in front of you. Raise your toes to stand on your heels, so that your toes are at least an inch and a half off the ground.

Did you pass these tests?

Quick thinking!
Imagine losing your balance – you have just a fraction of a second to recover. You need strong reflexes so that you can avoid a serious fall, along with lower body strength and flexibility. Check your reflexes with these tests:

1) Start a stop watch and try to stop it as close to the five-second mark as you can. Anything between  4.9 and 5.1 seconds consistently is good enough. 
2) Ask your friend to hold, say, a currency note by its narrow end. Now position your fingers roughly an inch from the middle of the bill. Tell your friend to count to three – and drop the bill – and try to catch it. Now – if your friends drops the bill without counting to three – can you still catch it?

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Have a question? Please email me at vidzword at gmail dot com
Stay healthy!
Vidya Sury

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