As with many things in life, balance is harder to maintain as we age. We all tend to feel less stable on our feet as we get older and this could be due to a multitude of factors such as loss of muscle mass, vision and hearing changes, medical conditions, or medications.

Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for falls. These can be caused by poor balance are potentially disabling and could instigate a loss of independence.

Walking Can Help

The good news is that there are ways to improve balance. Walking is the easiest way to start and counts toward your aerobic activity goals. Walking can help build lower-body strength, an important element of good balance.

Additionally, studies have proven walking 30 minutes per day improves your cardiovascular fitness by strengthening the heart, lowering blood pressure, and improving circulation. It reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.

Count the Minutes not the Miles

If you already exercise, create a regular walking plan. As the walk becomes easier, add more time, distance, or hills. Aim for at least 150 minutes of walking per week.

Make certain if you use your cane or walker you continue to do so. As you gradually feel stronger, slowly add more minutes to each walk.

If health problems make walking especially difficult, a physical therapist can suggest other options.

Add Balance Exercises

Walking shifts your center of mass with each step. Your body responds to this to make the next step instead of falling. Adding extra balance exercises can increase this effect.

Some simple balance exercises include walking on a beam, heel-to-toe walking, walking on your heels or on your toes, side steps and grapevines, and standing on one foot.

By adding balance exercises to your daily walks, you can ensure you are getting two components of healthy fitness activities: cardio exercise and balance exercise. If you want additional activities to improve your balance, try yoga or tai chi.

Of course, if an injury does occur the expert orthopedic specialists at Southern Oregon Orthopedics are here to help. If you have a non-emergent injury, call ahead, or walk in without an appointment for orthopedic treatment today.

Orthopedic Walk-In Clinic at Southern Oregon Orthopedics
2780 E Barnett Rd #200, Medford, OR 97504
Phone: (541) 779-6250

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Sources: Harvard Health