Challenging Your Balance Reflexes

Fear of falling is a real and all too common concern in old age. However, the loss of balance does not happen rapidly; the nerves that communicate with our muscles and keep us steady take decades to age and die. It is generally a case of simple neglect.

In everyday life, we never deliberately put ourselves in off-balance situations, therefore, as we age, when we lose our balance or feel unsteady, we instinctively reach for a railing or another person, or anything to prevent us from falling. But the result is that we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to stimulate our balance reflexes, and so they shrivel up and atrophy, compounding our balance troubles rather than solving them.   Once dead, they are gone forever.

Whatever the state of your balance reflexes is today, start challenging them now in order to prevent any further loss of nerve cells.

ABC Exercise: stand on one leg while “writing” the alphabet with your other leg (don’t hold onto anything for support). It’s okay to wobble and struggle to stay on balance, but the effort will stimulate your reflexes. Try to make it through the entire alphabet before changing legs. Writing the alphabet can be done every day until you can write the entire alphabet; then do it at least three times a week just to keep the reflexes from atrophying.

Commuter’s Exercise: challenge yourself to stand tall without using the hand-holds on the bus or train. Be prepared to grab hold if you must, but the instability created by the motion of the vehicle provides an excellent challenge for the tiny fibers of your balance reflexes.

Yoga: yoga offers many poses that force you to stand on one leg or in positions of instability. The more you wobble around doing a pose, the better stimulation you balance reflexes receive.

As much as possible do not shy away from opportunities to test yourself. When walking up and down stairs, or getting dressed, or putting on shoes, do your best to maintain your own balance without reaching for a chair or wall.

(ref: Aging Backwards)

Recipe of the Week:

Cooking everything in one pan is such a time saver on a busy week night. This Cashew Chicken Skillet is no exception!

Quote of the Week:

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

  • Dalai Lama

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