Most people think that balance exercises are for preventing falls. Nothing could be further from the truth!
As someone who has suffered her share of broken bones, cracked teeth and other scrapes and scratches resulting from falls, I know how important balance can be on a physical level. At the same time, the emotional side-effects of poor balance are also serious.
When we feel unbalanced, we are less likely to explore the world. In addition, we are often afraid to get involved in sports, fitness activities or dancing. This is ironic because, in the long-term, these are exactly the kinds of activities that will help us to improve our balance!
So, today, I would like to look beyond fall prevention and tell you about 4 amazing things that happen when you start doing balance exercises after 50.
You Start Exploring the World
One of the biggest impacts that a lack of balance has on older adults is that it holds us back from traveling. Since all of my falls happened when I was on the road, I can totally understand this. Those cobblestones in Europe are treacherous! And, forget hiking in exotic places!
Spending just 15-20 minutes a day doing balance exercises can, quite literally, open up a new world to you.
On a personal note, I know that a lack of balance can be especially limiting for solo women travelers. There is a feeling that, if you fall, no-one will be there to help.
Trust me ladies, the best thing that I ever did was to focus intensely on improving my balance. Now, I travel to India, Bali, Myanmar, the Czech Republic and everywhere in-between without a second thought for what my feet are doing.
Where would you travel if you weren’t afraid of falling?
You Stop Feeling Clumsy
Feeling out of touch with your body impacts every part of your daily life. Need to change a lightbulb? “There’s no way I’m standing on a chair to do that!” Have the opportunity to take a bike ride around the lake? “Hm… I think I’ll skip. You guys go ahead without me!”
Simply put, balance exercises help you to get more from life. They remove barriers to independence and they allow you to be yourself again – free, strong and confident.
What would you start doing again if you felt confident and well-balanced?
You Start Exercising
Before I started doing balance exercises, entire categories of exercise activities were off limited – or, at least, I thought they were!
A friend of mine offered to teach me tennis. I politely declined. I just couldn’t imagine getting out on the court and jumping back and forth, chasing a little fuzzy ball.
I thought about taking an aerobics class at the gym, but, I just didn’t feel like I had enough coordination or strength to make it through 60 minutes of exercise, surrounded by people half my age.
Of course, this was all in my mind. There was really nothing stopping me from getting more active. But, it’s no exaggeration to say that my lack of balance contributed to me staying away from physical activities.
After I started doing yoga for balance, my confidence gradually increased. I graduated from yoga for balance to gentle yoga and, eventually, to a 2-month yoga retreat in beautiful Bali.
Now, I go to the gym 4 times a week. I even take a cardio class from time to time. Oh, and those 20 and 30-year-olds that I was worried about… they LOVE the fact that I am in the class with them!
What sports or other physical activities do you want to try?
You Start Looking – Really LOOKING at the World Around You
Every repetitive thought that runs through your head is like a little software program, eating up valuable computational resources.
The more you worry about falls, the less mental energy you have to think about the things that are really important.
After my falls in Ibiza, Zurich and Paris, I found myself watching every step. There were times when I would visit a new city without really “seeing it.” Talk about a crazy way to live!
There is so much to see in this wonderful world of ours. Don’t spend your time looking at your feet. Invest in your overall fitness and start doing balance exercises so that you can raise your head and face with world with confidence and a smile!
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