The final F.A.C.E.
So far, you’ve learned how to F.A.C.E. your future through flexibility, aerobic exercise, and carrying a load. The last component of Fitness After 40 is equilibrium/balance.
… Into believing you can skip this part of your health. You may think, “Hey, my balance is just fine. This isn’t for me.” Wrong! The truth is that your balance starts to decline at age 25. When you invest in your future by enhancing your body’s flexibility, cardiovascular health, and muscular strength, you can’t ignore your equilibrium and balance.
Why so serious, you may ask? One in three people fall during daily activities after the age of 65. This often leads to bone fractures and can be life threatening. Losing your balance has serious consequences, so preventative measures should be taken seriously.
Not so simple
Balancing doesn’t seem very hard because your body does it for you automatically. You don’t even have to think about it (how kind!). However, balance and equilibrium is very complex. Many systems work together to keep you standing, including the eyes, ears, peripheral sensory system, and neuromuscular connections. As you age, these systems become less functional, and you become… well, wobblier.
Unless you’re constantly toppling over like Seinfeld’s nutty neighbor Kramer, you probably aren’t aware of the state of your equilibrium/balance. The “Starters” in my PRIMA Start program don’t typically realize their equilibrium is not what it once was until we start doing balance exercises. In chapter nine of Fitness After 40, Second Edition, I explain a simple way to find your “balance” age:
- Stand next to a supported surface (like a counter) with your hands above the surface in case you need support
- Close your eyes and lift one foot off the ground
- Count the seconds you can balance on one foot
The longer you balanced, the younger you are in balance years! You are 20 in balance years if you balanced longer than 22 seconds, 40 if you balanced 7.2 seconds, and over 60 if you toppled right away.
Boost your balance
If your ego just took a blow from your balance test, don’t despair! There are plenty of ways to boost your balance (and ego).
- Stay strong. The buttocks, quads, and hamstrings play a big role in maintaining balance.
- Take a class. Tai chi, Pilates, and yoga require slow, deliberate, balance-boosting movements.
- Balance your down time. Literally! While brushing your teeth or between strength exercises, try to balance on one foot.
- Work balance exercises into your daily schedule.
In chapter nine of Fitness After 40, Second Edition, I give you plenty of simple balance exercises you can work into your daily routine and even more complex exercises to do once you’ve mastered the first few. It will take four to 12 weeks to see results. Studies have shown that together, muscle strengthening and balance training can reduce the risk of falls by 45%. Working on your equilibrium/balance will keep you on your feet!
Now you know all of the components of F.A.C.E.-ing your future. But knowing is just half the battle. Now you have to combine those components to build a happy and healthy future. The following chapters in Fitness After 40, Second Edition will tell you exactly how to do just that. Keep checking back for more updates, and for the full plan, click here.