The importance of balance and strength as we age.

There is no debate. Leading an active, healthy lifestyle gives you the ability to continue participating in the activities you enjoy as you age.  Quality of life ranks highly as a reason to eat right and exercise. 

The importance of including a well-rounded fitness regimen benefits all ages, but of particular importance as we get older. Unfortunately, aging furthers our loss of balance, strength, and coordination.  While staying active extends your capability of doing the things you love, you must “use it or lose it”.  Making everyday exercise a priority “now” is an investment in your future self.

Regular exercisers reap a heap of health benefits including lower blood pressure, increased cardiovascular capacity and strength, improved muscle tone and energy.  It also can help boost memory and thinking skills and serve as an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety—just to name a few. 

What is a key factor in a well rounded regimen?  Being mindful to incorporate exercises that enhance balance and strength.

Importance of Balance Training

According to the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in the US.  Falls can cost seniors their independence and have a huge impact on quality of life.  Incorporating balance exercises to your routine benefits any age.

Examples of simple exercises you can do each day to keep your balance top-notch:

  • Stand on one leg while doing the dishes or holding onto a sturdy chair.  Variations include holding your foot to the front, to the side, and behind you.  Perform for 10 seconds each, 10 repetitions each side.
  • Sit and stand from a chair or bench unassisted.  Practice without using your hands.  Repeat for ten repetitions.
  • Stand up from a seated or all-4’s position on the floor.  Successfully getting from the floor to a standing position may be difficult, so practice slowly with assistance if needed.  Repeat 10 repetitions.

Aside from these simple exercises, both yoga and tai chi, serve as wonderful formats to improve both balance and flexibility.

Importance of Strength Training

Your strength impacts your life daily.  From the simple exercises above, to carrying children or climbing stairs, your strength affects your ability to perform many everyday tasks. 

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training should be performed two non-consecutive days a week with one set of 8 to 12 repetitions for healthy adults or 10 to 15 repetitions for older adults. Eight to ten different exercises that target the major muscle groups should be performed.

Basic strength exercises using free weights or body weight include:  Squats, lunges, push-ups, and rows.  There are many facilities that have strength training format classes on their schedule and/or access to weight machines.

So, make the investment.  Good general fitness can be achieved in as little as 30 minutes each day being mindful to include exercises that include balance and strength into your program.  Paired with moderate physical activity like walking, cycling or swimming, you can prolong your life and improve it’s quality.  A great fitness regimen doesn’t call for for everything to be done in one session.  Blend your activities together to ensure a well rounded program.  If you are just beginning, start slowly, ask your doctor for guidance and seek out a qualified personal trainer to help you along the way.  Use it or lose it!

Leah Seacrest, Corporate Vice President of Fitness & Operations at REGYMEN Fitnesshas over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry as a fitness instructor, director and studio owner.