Ever feel like your balance is just not quite there anymore? Have you tripped over a telephone cord and couldn't figure out how you ended up on the floor? Do you remember the days when you could trip, do wild flapping motions with your arms, and somehow regain your balance without ever touching the floor?
As we age, our strength and flexibility decrease, which lowers our ability to safely "catch ourselves" when we stumble. Studies tell us that 1/3 of adults over age 65 fall every year. And once an adult over 65 falls, she is two to three times more likely to fall again within the year! How much our ability to "catch ourselves" diminishes is directly related to our activity level.
A Vicious Circle
Falling can be a horrifying and painful experience that haunts our bodies and minds for weeks, months, and even years to come. Unfortunately, once we've fallen, we often become more sedentary out of fear that we may fall again. Ironically, this change in lifestyle which we settle into to try to prevent falling, often hastens the next fall. Our decreased activity level causes us to lose muscle strength, we develop stiff or sore joints and our balance decreases. In other words, the more sedentary we become, the higher risk we run of falling again.
Falling can be extremely dangerous for the over 65 age group. It is estimated that falling causes 87% of fractures within this age group and the aftermath can lead to increased anxiety, a decreased quality of life, early dependency and even death.
Thankfully, there is hope. Falling does not have to be an inevitable part of the aging process and exercise is the key to combating it. The CDC tells us that aerobic exercise, strength, and flexibility training are major components of an effective fall prevention regimen.
Pilates gently builds strength, flexibility and balance while addressing alignment and posture, which helps us stay upright and off the ground. We build slowly and carefully from the "inside out" so that our clients' confidence levels increase as they discover that there is no longer a need to fear gravity.
Maybe you can never go back to that time when you were able to stumble and safely catch yourself with dramatic flare, but falling does not have to be part of the aging process. By keeping your body strong and supple, and incorporating simple balance exercises into your daily routine, you will be amazed at how quickly both your confidence level and quality of life increase.