The fourth type of fitness is balance and a great way to use this exercise is by Dancing!
Balance activities are particularly important for people as they age because good balance prevents falls. “But I have no intention of falling,” you say. Right. None of us does. Yet one out of three people 65 and older falls every year. These are not people living in nursing homes but rather those typically living in their own homes.
Falls are the most common reason for injuries treated emergency rooms among those 65 years and older, and 5 to 10 percent of those falls cause serious injuries, including major head trauma. Most important: Falls are one of the most common reasons people find themselves in nursing homes.
There are two types of balance, static and dynamic. Static balance involves the ability to maintain your balance without moving, such as while standing on one foot. Dynamic balance refers to the ability to maintain your balance while moving.
The good news is that many other forms of exercise already challenge and improve your sense of balance. Examples include tai chi, yoga, dance, and even strength training. If you’re an avid exerciser, it’s unlikely that you need to do additional balancing exercise- but try some anyway. This is one area of fitness in which there isn’t a lot of science or precision. Just do things that force you to stay up on your feet in awkward situations. Here are some ideas:
Do basic balance challenges each day at home.
For instance, stand on one leg and lift the other or walk in a straight line heel to toe. If you’re just starting, hold on to something when you try these. Eventually the goal is to be able to perform these exercises for longer times without holding on to anything.
Balance is about being light on your feet and having a good sense of your body and its movements. What teaches you that more than dance? For the most benefits, sign up for dancing classes. You’ll get the physical benefits of the dancing and the emotional and life-enhancing benefits of the social interaction.
Get off the beaten Path.
Taking walks on an unpaved nature trail forces you to step over or around roots, boulders, and other obstructions. It’s the perfect activity to improve your balance.
Do more side-to-side activities.
Sports like badminton, basketball, and soccer all force players to constantly move forward, backward, and sideways, making these sports terrific for helping players develop balance and a sense of assuredness on their feet. If you are relatively fit and have a willingness to play and laugh about it, consider a gentle round of these sports with kids or your spouse. You’ll get a wonderful aerobic and balance workout.
Take up Tai chi.
One study of 256 physically inactive people ages 70 to 92 found that participating in this ancient Chinese martial art form for six months reduced falls by half compared to a similar group who did stretching exercises for six months. Plus, those in the tai chi group who did fall had much less serious falls, with just 7 percent resulting in injuries versus 18 percent in the stretching group.
So get out there and Dance because You Should Be Dancing!
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