The Secret of Older Adults Who Keep Their Bodies Healthy and Happy

The Secret of Older Adults Who Keep Their Bodies Healthy and Happy

There’s no doubt that as time passes by, it affects your body. The good news is that you can take control of your health rather than sitting idly by, waiting for time to take your strength and confidence. What can you do to keep yourself healthy over the years?

Many people may not realize the complexity of the spine. Its structure includes vertebra, discs, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. The nerves control movement by sending signals to the rest of your body. When vertebrae or discs push against those nerves, it can hinder your body’s activities, and several movements are related to your ability to balance.

Enter Balance Training

You may not realize it, but even when we’re merely standing, we’re balancing. When we’re balancing, we boost our joint stability and the ability to focus on what’s happening inside us. Balance exercises and activities also challenge our often-ignored stabilizer muscles and help us improve our musculoskeletal system’s function and the sense of balance derived from our vestibules, particularly in the inner ear.

As we age, we naturally start to lose some ability to balance, so we have to make a conscious effort to practice this skill to maintain it.

Balance exercises help you move fluidly, but they also help you avoid losing your balance because you gain better control of your limbs and core. The last thing older folks need is to constantly worry about the possibility of falling and ending up with severe injuries like a broken hip.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of having the right balance is that it improves your confidence that you can be out and about without being anxious about falling. Younger people also experience a confidence boost, even if they are unaware of it, due to having excellent balance.

Research for the Importance of Balance and Longevity

The length of time you can stand on one leg is seen as a reliable predictor of longevity. Most people live a sedentary lifestyle these days. As a result, we seldom need to practise balance, and we consequently develop generally poor coordination.

In a study by the Medical Research Council in the U.K., 5,000 people born in 1946 were tracked throughout their lives. At the age of 53, they completed tests in which they were standing on one leg during home visits from specially trained nurses. In the standing on one leg with eyes closed test, men and women who could hold the position for less than two seconds were three times more likely to die before the age of 66 than those who could hold it for 10 seconds or more. The individuals who couldn’t do the test were more likely to die in the following 13 years.

Dr. Rachel Cooper at the Medical Research Council said: “The majority of these studies are done in older people but we have shown this even in younger age, where you would not expect pre-existing disease, and we are still seeing these measures picking up in some underlying ageing and disease processes.”

Training for Balance and Longevity

Proprioception is the body’s ability to recognize where its joints and limbs are located to its environment. Balance, gait, and risk of falls among older people improve significantly with proprioception training programs.

That was confirmed by a controlled clinical trial that aimed to evaluate the effect of a 12-week proprioception training program on postural stability, gait, balance in fall prevention in adults over 65 years of age. Forty-four community-dwelling older people took part in the study. The participants were divided into experimental and control groups, which performed the Berg balance test before and after the training program. Those conducting the survey assessed participants’ gait, balance, and the risk of falling, using the Tinetti scale.

The results revealed that a 12-week proprioception training program in older adults “is effective in postural stability, static, and dynamic balance and could lead to an improvement in gait and balance capacity, and to a decrease in the risk of falling in adults aged 65 years and older.”

With this program, there is a higher likelihood that you will have faster reaction times or adjust your body’s position, avoiding a fall if you begin to slip, such as walking on an uneven surface. 

It is a well-known fact that falls among adults aged 65 years and older often result in moderate to severe injuries and raise the risk of death. Approximately 30% of falls result in an injury requiring medical attention.