One of the main things that keeps you standing upright are messages coming from three different areas. The fluid-filled semi-circular canals in our inner ear is one. Our brains also rely on feedback from our joints and muscles to help maintain balance. Lastly our eyes give the brain an accurate measure of where the head and body are, in respect to our surroundings. As we age this valuable communication starts to fade. Especially the muscle and joint heads up which leads us to rely more heavily on our eyes. Having good balance is important as we age to keep us from falling but also having good balance is a powerful predictor of dementia, as well as how long, and how healthily we will live. So how good is your balance? There are two simple balance test to try that will let you know how you are doing. One legged standing with your eyes closed and sit stand without your arms to help.
No matter how you do on the test keep in mind you can improve your balance: For starters, practice balancing. While brushing your teeth. For those two minutes in the morning and evening stand on one leg, with your eyes open, then the other, each for 30 seconds. Do each leg twice.
Another thing to try: Yoga or t’ai chi, a healthy form of exercise which combines breathing and relaxation with flowing movements.Studies have shown that taking up t’ai chi will significantly reduce the risk of falls, as well as providing multiple other health benefits too.
Lose weight. Simply put: people who are overweight or obese are significantly more likely to report falling over and injuring themselves.
TAKE THE TESTS:
If you are over 40, you are unlikely to last more than ten seconds. To get an accurate score, take an average of three attempts. Using your phone's timer you may find taking this test more accurate with the help of someone else.
Start by taking off your shoes. Then put your hands on your hips and stand on one leg. When you are ready close your eyes. The test is over as soon as you shift your planted foot or when you have to put your raised foot down on the ground to stop yourself falling over.
Here are the target numbers to shoot for based on age:
·People under 40 with eyes open averaged 45 seconds. With eyes closed: 15 seconds.
·Aged 40-49 with eyes open averaged 42 seconds. With eyes closed: 13 seconds.
·Aged 50-59 with eyes open averaged 41 seconds. With eyes closed: 8 seconds.
·Aged 60-69 with eyes open averaged 32 seconds. With eyes closed: 4 seconds.
·Aged 70-79 with eyes open averaged 22 seconds. With eyes closed: 3 seconds.
Second balance test:
Stand-up Sit-down: Sit down in a chair without arms and then see how many times you can go from sitting to standing in a minute. If you can manage to move from sitting to standing more than 36 times in a minute you are twice as likely to still be alive as those who could only manage to do 23 in 15 years.