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Close Your Eyes and Stand on One Foot

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Can you stand on one foot for 15 seconds with your eyes closed?

Before you even think about answering, try it. 

How did you do? Were you able to last 15 seconds without opening your eyes or holding on to anything? Were you surprised that it was more of a challenge than you thought? Here’s the facts: After age 25, our sense of balance slowly begins to decline. Standing on one foot may seem fairly simple. At age 45 the ankles start to shake and you may find this a bit more of a challenge. When we reach our 60s, balance declines rapidly. Standing on one foot for 15 seconds with eyes closed without holding on is tough.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States and 20 to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.

September 22 kicked off Fall Prevention Awareness Week. Why set aside a week to bring awareness to falling down? Because preventing a fall is much more effective than treating a fall; a public health problem that is largely preventable. A fall can change an individual’s life instantly and although associated with getting older, a fall is not a normal part of aging.

Our bodies have an amazing and complex balance system that requires attention throughout life to keep it healthy and maintained. Most of us don’t think about exercising our balance when we think about healthy aging. In fact, balance is the most overlooked element of fitness; overlooked until we have a problems.

So what’s the easiest way to reclaim balance and prevent falls? For the most part, it’s child’s play. Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember challenging friends to see who could hop the longest on one foot?  Or who could walk on the edge of the sidewalk the longest without falling off? Hopscotch, jumping rope, tossing balls…we didn’t call it exercise or balance training as children, but that is exactly what we were doing. Those activities helped us develop our balance and stability as children, and similar activities can help keep the brain and muscles working together as we age.

A favorite part of my week is teaching the Better Balance & Movement Workshops here at Ballet Austin. The participants range in age from about 40 to 80. I love it! Together we challenge our brains and our muscles to do what we want them to do. And then we laugh when they don’t always cooperate. I especially love to see people coming back each week sharing how they practiced at home, and the improvement they notice in their balance.

Thanks to partial underwriting from Scott & White Healthcare, Ballet Austin is on a mission to bring better balance to adults as part of its core value to encourage lifelong health and well-being. We desire to provide programming that will motivate and encourage people of all ages to be active! I once read this quote, “Movement requires balance. Sitting does not.

On September 13, 2012 the US Senate passed a resolution declaring September 22, 2012 as National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a day set aside to promote and increase public awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults.

Keep moving!

There are many ways for people of all ages to stay active at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. Interested in the Better Balance & Movement Workshop? A new session begins October 31.

 
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