If you are looking to maintain balance and mobility, the main thing to remember is — move it or lose it.
It’s pretty simple, right?
A lot of people think that when they retire they are just going to be sedentary and relax. In contrast, if you are retired, I would encourage you to consider your physical fitness to be the focus of your schedule.
Exercise is the activity that you should plan everything else around.
The occupation of retirement that no one told you about is to figure out how you are going to exercise, stay active, and maintain balance and mobility.
If you have dizziness or vertigo, I suggest that you get evaluated by a Vestibular expert so that you can eventually become consistent with exercise.
What We Know
We know that reduced muscle strength and reduced muscle mass are part of normal aging so it is important to maintain balance and mobility.
The research is showing that it’s not only about building muscle strength, it’s also about head motion!
You have to keep your head moving to maintain balance and mobility.
Most research finds that a multi-factorial approach to fall prevention is the best. However, some studies have shown that exercise alone is an effective intervention to prevent falls.
Exercise is the key.
Exercise is the only stand-alone intervention identified so far that can help maintain balance and mobility with normal aging.
What that means is that if everything else seems like too much and you don’t know where to start, just start with this: Exercise in some way.
Research shows that individually prescribed exercise programs, like those given by a physical therapist or a personal trainer, can reduce the risk of falls.
Multiple components of fitness are important.
Group fitness programs that focus on at least two out of four components of fitness are shown to reduce fall risk and help maintain balance and mobility. The four components of fitness are strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.
One way to help combat depression with aging is to use the exercise as your social outlet. Find a buddy, find a friend, make a friend, go to class and make a new friend, find someone to walk with or someone you can work out with.
Make exercise your social time so you will be more likely to be compliant with your workout program.
One thing I want to mention here is that brisk walking and strength training alone have not been shown to effective reduce falls, if that’s the only thing you do. If you only do walking or you only do strength training, it’s not going to reduce your fall risk nor help you maintain balance and mobility.
Brisk walking and strength training along with balance training will reduce the risk of falls.
Also, there is some controversy right now as to whether brisk walking exercise is recommended for people with osteoporosis and balance problems. This is because a fall while walking can cause a fracture. If you do have osteoporosis, then I suggest that you talk to your doctor about that or meet with your physical therapist before you start a walking program.
I always recommend talking to your doctor before starting any new exercise program. If you are afraid of falling, then I suggest working with a physical therapist to get started.
You can exercise to maintain balance and mobility with a physical therapist, with a personal trainer, in a group class, with a friend, or on your own as long as you are in good health
If you exercise regularly and have strong muscles, but your still feel off balance or unsteady with walking, I suggest you seek care from a Vestibular Expert.
Now let’s get moving!
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.