By: Dr. Beth Templin
In last month's blog, we discussed the 5 components of fitness: Balance, Strength, Endurance, Posture and Flexibility. Now we're going to dive a little deeper into each of these areas to discuss the importance of maintaining each as you age.
Balance, or rather the loss of one's balance, is a major concern for many older adults. We see people in our clinic every single day that come in with complaints of poor balance. One of the main tests we perform during our balance assessments is the One Leg Stand. I can tell you that over 90% of the time, people fail this test.
They are not often surprised by their results, but they always want to know why it's so important that they have the ability to stand on one leg. I'm often told things like "I never need to stand on one leg in real life". And I have to disagree with them.
There are so many things we do in our daily lives that require us to stand on one leg at a time. Take walking for instance. In order to take a step with your right leg, you have to put all of your weight on your left leg and stand on it all by itself. Then you switch legs and repeat.
You also stand on one leg at a time to go up and down curbs and stairs, step over objects on the floor, step in and out of your tub and for many people also while putting on your pants, socks and shoes.
As you can see, being able to stand on one leg is a very important skill to have as you age. Many older adults who think they have good balance cannot pass this simple test. You should be able to stand on one leg for 20+ seconds.
When you are not able to stand on one leg for more than 5 seconds, your risk for having a fall increases significantly. If you're not able to stand on one leg for more than 20 seconds, it tells us you have some significant weakness in your legs.
If you're unable to stand on one leg for 20+ seconds, there's good news. With the right exercises you can get stronger and improve your balance. At HouseFit, we can show you how. We have several options to help you improve your balance including: the ActiveStep Balance Trainer, Physical Therapy and Group Exercise.