Losing Balance More Often?
Discover How a Fitness Stability Ball can Improve Balance and Our Midlife Health
I seem to be getting more clumsy as I age. I sense it when I step off the curb. Or walk on an uneven sidewalk. There’s a stutter in my steps, as my legs quickly readjust to bring balance in my stride.
And wearing flip flops has become somewhat challenging at times. Well, that just won’t stand. I like those flip flops.
Luckily, there’s a core solution to maintaining our balance. The fitness stability ball. But, let’s first look at why we might be losing our sense of balance as we age.
One of the unfortunate facts of midlife changes is that our fine sense of youthful balance starts to fade as our muscles deteriorate.
In middle age, physical instability can be caused by:
- The fact that we’re losing 1% of our muscle mass each year
- Imbalance of strong and weak muscles plus a weak body core
- Poor body posture (sitting in front of a computer all day can be devastating to our posture)
- Some medications and illnesses can also impact our steadiness (which is why it’s a good idea to check with a physician on any change to our sense of balance)
The slow decline of our balance due to muscle deterioration can be irritating in middle age, but progressed into senior life it can be dangerous. A simple slip can result in a broken hip. Or, worse. Our physical independence can be at risk as we get older if we’re unable to maintain our balance. Fear of falling could prevent us from living life to the fullest.
Okay, Enough of the Gloomy Picture. Let’s See How to Improve Our Balance.
One of our primary goals with fitness after 40 should be to maintain muscle strength and slow down their deterioration. To maintain our physical balance, we should target the core muscles that support our body trunk and back.
According to WebMD, strengthening those core muscles can improve our balance. A core fitness program gets our joints and muscles working in tandem. This coordination conditions the body to maintain steadiness in our activities throughout the day, such as, walking up stairs, off curbs, lifting groceries, etc.
A continued core muscle program will help to slow the physical decline of our muscles as we age, giving us greater strength and dependence in our senior years. For me, that’s a huge payoff.
How do we improve our core and balance?
Enter the fitness stability Ball
A physical trainer once told me that if he could only recommend one piece of exercise equipment for the home, it would be the fitness stability ball.
- It’s versatile, a wide range of exercises can be performed with the stability ball.
- It targets all of the right muscles that improve our balance.
- It’s light, making it easy to move around. It’s fun to use, which means we’ll use it more.
5 key benefits of a fitness ball that improve our balance
1. Instability brings stability
The instability of the ball challenges infrequently used back and abdominal muscles to strengthen and work together to maintain balance. This brings us more stability as our body moves throughout the day.
2. Brings proper alignment to our lives
It forces our body to frequently adjust our balance to maintain proper alignment. Strengthening core muscles and training our body to be more aligned helps to promote proper body posture. Proper posture helps us to maintain our balance. For those who sit in front of a computer all day, the stability ball can be a great benefit.
3. Makes us more flexible and less prone to exercise-related injuries
It’s a great tool for stretching exercises that can help maintain our flexibility. There are plenty of easy stretching exercises that can be performed with the ball.
With more flexibility, we lessen the risk of muscle, joint and tendon injuries. As we get older, these injuries can take awhile to heal. Our bodies start to adjust to these injuries. And we find ourselves moving our bodies differently, in an unbalanced manner even after our injuries have healed.
4. Burns more calories
It can be a powerful component to a weight loss program as all muscles in the body can be targeted with a stability ball. This burns more calories. As we lose weight, our body can start adjusting to a healthier weight, moving in a more natural and balanced stride. Losing weight will also bring our center of gravity into proper alignment, bringing us greater stability.
5. Won’t break the bank
It’s cheap! Easily purchased for $15 to $30, plus they are very durable and will last a long time. While this does not bring more stability to our bodies, it does help balance the budget.
How to Pick the Right Stability Ball
When buying a stability ball, be sure to get one that’s sized for your height:
- If you’re’ under 4′ 6″ (or 137 cm), get a 12 inch (30 cm) ball
- If you’re 4’6″ to 5’0″ (or 137-152 cm), get an 18 inch (45 cm) ball
- If you’re 5’1″ to 5’7″ (or 155-170 cm), get a 22 inch (55 cm) ball
- If you’re 5’8″ to 6′ 2″ (or 173-188 cm), get a 26 inch (65 cm) ball
- If you’re over 6’2″ (or 188 cm), get a 30 inch (75 cm) ball
How to Use a Stability Ball
This video from a fitness trainer shows the benefits of using a stability ball and how it strengthens core muscles. It offers great advice for beginners to advance users.
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic has a great slide show on core exercises that can be performed with a fitness stability ball.
Have a Ball with Exercising
Fitness stability balls are a lot of fun to use. Using the ball brings out a playfulness in my workouts and stretches. And, anything that adds “play time” to exercise is a great benefit. It keeps me from being bored and allows me to mix up my routines.
Plus, bouncing up and down on the ball while watching TV is a great way to strengthen core muscles, improve balance and allows me to watch the Food Network without remorse.
Most importantly, using the stability ball is an easy way to target my core muscles. And, this helps to improve my balance and steadiness throughout the day. It’s also a small investment of physical effort that will have huge dividends as I get older. Oh, and it will allow me to continue to wear my flip flops for years to come.
Do you use a fitness stability ball? Let us know how you’re using it to improve your health.