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Your sense of balance functions through a dynamic process in which your brain and body assimilate and respond to physical information using your eyes, muscles and nervous system as a means of relating physically to the world.

 

Proper posture is an integral part of human balance. The way in which you hold up your body actually makes a huge difference in your ability to maintain proper balance. By improving your posture and thus your sense of balance, you improve your physical stability and increase your overall mobility, as well as preventing many injuries and pain in the back, neck and joints.  Overall, proper posture and a healthy sense of balance can mean the difference between feeling the years creeping up on you and maintaining your youthful energy and vigor.

 

Your sense of balance begins to deteriorate at around age 40. Poor posture and lack of balance is often associated with an increase in falls and injuries, such as wrist and hip fractures, even in younger adults.  To prevent this deterioration, it is important to practice proper posture and perform simple balancing exercises every day.

 

How can you improve your posture?

 

  • Book it. Walk around for five minutes each day with a book balanced on your head.

 

  • Sit Up. Make sure that your computer monitor and chair are ergonomically arranged so that your back remains straight and relaxed, with elbows comfortably bent at a 45° angle and feet planted firmly on the ground while you are working on your computer.

 

  • Stretch.  Remember to take frequent breaks during which you stretch your back and shoulders by gently bending from side to side with one arm extended over your head.

 

  • Step in Line.  When walking, always shift your body weight from heel to toe, using the entire foot to support your weight.  Place one foot in front of the other and direct your body weight in a straight line.

 

How can you maintain your sense of balance?

 

  • Stand on one leg.  Try this at first for 10 seconds, then close your eyes and continue for an additional 5 seconds.  Repeat with the alternate leg.  Practice this exercise at least once daily.  You may need to hold on to a table or wall for the first 3-4 seconds before letting go.  As you become accustomed to doing this exercise every day, your balance will improve drastically and you will be able to hold the position for longer periods.

 

  • Balance Beam. Try walking on top of a straight and narrow surface, such as the curb of the sidewalk, a wall or a real balance beam.  This exercise strengthens the coordination between your eyes, muscles and nervous system, and will greatly improve your balance when practiced regularly.

 

  • Walk backwards. Walk backwards for a stretch of 10-15 feet using a wall to guide yourself. Try not to turn around and look behind you, and maintain an even distance from the wall while walking.

 

  • Get out in Nature. Nature is strategically designed to help humans improve all of our physical and psychological capabilities.  While walking along a dirt road or trail, your sense of balance naturally kicks in to keep you from stumbling over obstacles on the uneven ground, and from bumping into trees and branches in your path.  A weekly nature walk goes a long way toward improving your navigation skills in the physical world, and your sense of balance will be among the first to reap the benefits!

 


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