Week 2 Simply Health Lockdown Challenge

Keeping your balance

Good balance is vital for health and wellbeing and we have chosen this as our Week 2 Challenge.  Most people don’t engage regularly in balance activities, so this skill can be lost easily over time.  You don’t want hitting the ground to be the first time you realise your balance is poor!  People of any age can benefit from balance exercises, but best results are when you build a strong base in the early years of life.

Age expectations

It’s important to know where your balance is at.  Of course expectations for balance will vary depending on your age and physical condition.  For a much older person, simply being able to stand and walk unassisted may indicate good balance.  While the expectation for a younger person would be much higher.

Why is balance important?

There are many causes of poor balance, but the most common causes relate to ageing and general de-conditioning.  If you are not regularly performing activities that stimulate the balance centres of your brain, then these neurological pathways weaken over time.

For younger people, having poor balance may create co-ordination problems and increase the risk of musculoskeletal issues.  In the older population poor balance is potentially devastating, especially if it ends with a hip fracture from a fall – from which most older people will never fully recover.

Single leg balance – the ‘Test’

The single leg balance test (Stork) is a good way to find out about your balance.  Simply stand on one leg with knee at 90deg – be sure the leg you are lifting is not touching the standing leg.  Most importantly, do this in a safe environment where you will not trip or fall.

You have good balance if your test shows the following result:

18-45yo – Can stand 30sec easily with no sway

46-65yo – Can stand 30sec with no or mild sway

>65yo – Can stand 30sec with mild sway

Graded balance exercise

As with all exercise, it’s important to select the level that best suits you.  It should be challenging, but not too difficult that it cannot be performed safely.  If you find you’re wobbling quite a bit, then scale the exercise back.

Here is an example of graded balance exercise:

  1. Stand tall and straight with feet apart
  2. Stand tall and straight with feet together
  3. Stand on one leg with hand on chair for support
  4. Stand on one leg without support
  5. Stand on one leg with eyes closed
  6. Add movement to your balance exercise

Pick the level that works safely for you and perform for 30sec each leg, 3 times each day.

To see this in action, check out this video with our very own Dr Adeline Soh.

Good luck and have fun!