Most of us know by now how important it is to engage in aerobic activity for the health of our cardiovascular system and we have incorporated some kind of weight and strength training into our exercise routine understanding the impact weight bearing exercise has on bone health. However, one of the key elements to overall health and fitness we may unknowingly be missing, is balance.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 9% of adults age 65 and older report having difficulty with balance. Unfortunately, this has lead to an alarming 300,000 hospital admissions for fall-related injuries in older adults (NIH 2007). Balance can be affected by muscular strength and endurance as well as inner ear issues and poor eye sight. The good news is balance can be improved at any age with simple exercises.
There are many ways to begin to improve your balance. One of the most simple exercises you can do is to stand on one foot for a few seconds and gradually increase the time. Yoga is another form of exercise that focuses on core strength, body alignment and balance. The stability ball (picture) offers a variety of exercises, postures and poses that work to enhance balance.
Most of Charlotte’s health facilities as well as the many private yoga studios offer a “gentle” or beginning yoga class designed for any age and fitness level. Classes utilizing the stability ball may be a little more challenging to locate. The Harris YMCA and the Levine JCC both offer a class that devotes an entire hour to strength, flexibility, core stabilization and balance utilizing the stability ball. The class is unique to Charlotte, is nationally accredited and was created by a hometown fitness professional. There are three available class times a week for Ballean, Tuesday 10:30 a.m. and Thursday 10:30 a.m at the Levine JCC and Wednesday 8:30 a.m. and the Harris YMCA.