This post is sponsored by our partners at TheOptimal.me, dedicated to helping people optimize their fitness and functional movement as they age.
Many of us exercise to lose fat, get strong, or improve cardio fitness. Few of us think about unsexy goals like building balance — and even fewer of us know that our balance begins to fade away as early as our twenties. As balance declines, the risk of serious injury goes up.
Consider this scary reality: One in four people over the age of 55 visit the emergency room each year as the result of a fall, suffering sprains, fractures, dislocations, and even traumatic brain injury or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And if you fall once, you automatically double your chances of falling again, the CDC adds.
You may not be ready to worry about falling just yet — and that’s okay. But you should know that working on your balance offers benefits today, because it’s more than just a safeguard against falling and breaking a hip — it’s the special sauce that helps you walk, run, climb a flight of stairs, and swing a tennis racket with the confidence you had as a kid. And five or 10 years from now, when falling becomes a hot topic in your friend groups, good balance will keep you from becoming another CDC statistic.
In other words, bettering your balance gives your body an advantage for decades to come.
What is balance, exactly?
Simply put, balance is your ability to maintain your body’s position for as long as needed, whether you’re bounding from one leg to the other (as when running or playing sports), or sitting on the edge of a chair. You can assess your balance by lifting one foot off the ground and seeing how long you can stand on the other without wobbling or dropping your foot. It’s not easy.
From sensory experiences like sight, touch, and sound, to physical features like strong muscles and sturdy bones, our bodies rely on many moving parts for balance, and all those parts have to work together in harmony to keep us upright.
Unfortunately, many (of these moving parts) weaken and slow down as we age. To make matters worse, many of us lead sedentary lifestyles, which speeds up this aging process. After all, if you don’t regularly challenge your balance, your body will forget what to do the next time you take a strong step. “Use it or lose it” most definitely applies! So, if you want to keep moving effortlessly as you age, building your balance is foundational.
Don’t think you’re off the hook if you exercise or play sports, because chances are you’re still not giving balance the focus and attention it deserves. Activities like HIIT, walking, biking and Pilates offer plenty of benefits, but they typically lack the whole-body movements you need to build balance, mobility, flexibility and strength.
Turn back the clock with integrated functional movement training
The good news is, it’s never too late — or early, for that matter — to improve your balance. Improving your balance will not only help protect you from falls later in life, but it’ll keep you moving with ease and confidence today. With better balance, you’ll be able to walk, run, golf, and even climb a ladder with a heavy watering can to hydrate your hanging plants without a second thought.
The good news is you don’t have to dedicate an hour to balance every day in order to see real benefits. In fact, you can do low-impact routines designed to keep you balanced, strong, flexible and mobile in just 15 minutes a day.
Meet: Integrated Movement Routines (IMRs) from TheOptimal.me. Created by physical therapists and exercise physiologists, these carefully curated IMRs feature a series of whole body stretching, toning, and strengthening movements that mimic the way we move in daily life. Instead of simply flattening your abs or sculpting your arms, these integrated functional movements keep your body moving like the well-oiled machine it was meant to be, keeping you balanced and prepared for any task or sport you set your mind to. Think of these routines as your successful-aging superpower!
Start your journey to improved balance today with a 30 Day Free Trial that includes our 21-day First Steps to Physical Freedom course. You’ll not only see an improvement in your balance and strength, but you’ll also find it significantly easier to move and enjoy life after just a couple of weeks of consistent effort.