Fall is a beautiful time of year in Northern Arizona. Crisp mornings and shorter days are now upon us, a time to enjoy hot drinks and put another log on the fire as we curl up with a cozy blanket at the end of the day. With the change in seasons and the potential for icy streets, now is a good time to give some thought to balance and stability. The ability to stay vertical on the slippery surfaces we encounter in winter is essential to maintaining quality of life. Let’s begin with some questions:
Have I fallen in the last year? If so, was I injured? What effect did it have on my daily life?
Do I fear falling? How would I obtain the necessary help to recover from an incident?
Does my fear of falling affect how I operate in my daily life? Do I avoid certain activities out of a fear of falling?
Do I have a strategy in place for fall recovery if I do fall?
Do I include exercises to maintain and strengthen my balance as part of my wellness program?
Is Balance a Big Deal?
As we age, the tendency is to be less active, and this results in a slow deterioration of core muscles that provide a strong base of support for balance. The following statistics emphasize the importance of practicing a fall reduction program:
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among the mature population.
Twenty-five percent of Americans over age 65 sustain a fall each year.
Every 19 minutes, a mature adult dies from a fall.
In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion.
As a former long-term care case manager, I have seen the complex and life-changing ramifications of a fall. One of the most challenging is often the inevitable loss of independence and the need for personal assistance in performing the various activities of daily life. In addition, activities that once brought great joy are now replaced with more sedentary pastimes, causing a downward spiral in overall health and mood.
Assessing Your Balance
The first place to start after speaking with your doctor is with a qualified fitness professional who can assess your balance, give you feedback on your starting point, and provide exercises that are safe and effective in strengthening weak areas. Core training involves exercises that provide stability to the trunk, a key issue in staying vertical, especially when the ground supporting you is unstable.
There is great news for anyone seeking to make a change and improve their balance and stability. Help is available. Clients who invest the time in developing the strength to avoid a fall see results very quickly, often noticing a difference in just 30 days. Cheers to staying on your feet! QCBN
By Lisa Fry
Lisa Fry is the Health & Fitness Director for Touchmark at The Ranch. Her responsibilities include overseeing the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club, which includes an indoor pool, state-of-the-art equipment, certified personal trainers and group classes. The Club is open to anyone 50 years and older. To reach Lisa or for more information, call 928-708-3133.