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Finding your balance

At YWCA Metro Vancouver, we talk a lot about finding balance in our lives—in fact, find your balance is the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre’s tagline. But have you assessed your actual balance lately?

Let’s talk about balance, literally!

Balance is the relationship between the sensory, motor, musculoskeletal and cognitive systems. This means your nervous system, muscles and brain and how they work together.

As we age, we begin to lose our balance. Many factors can influence this, including medication, visual impairments, poor circulation and illness. But the most significant factor is loss of strength.

When it comes to healthy muscles, strength and balance are equally important. We all have dominant legs, arms and eyes, and trainers pay attention to your symmetry and balance when developing your exercise program. Often, corrective and functional exercises are prescribed to help you improve your balance.

Good balance improves your quality of life by helping you to move with grace and ease, even into old age.

Find your balance

Try these exercises to test your balance. Be sure to stand close to a wall or chair so you can catch yourself if you are unstable.

One leg stand
Stand tall and lift one foot a couple of inches off the floor. Stand as still as you can. How long can you last? You should be able to stand easily for 30 seconds (10 seconds for those 65+). Try the other foot. Is one foot easier than the other? 

Tandem stand
With arms by your side, place one foot in front of the other, heel to toe. Can you stand still? If it is easy, can you cross your arms over your chest?  Now can you close your eyes and still remain still?  Good job!  Now try the other foot.

Tandem walking
With arms by your side, walk heel to toe in a straight line for 10 feet. Can you do this backwards?

You can improve your balance by practising these exercises each day. Add in a regular walk and a strength routine that includes upper and lower body exercises and you are well on your way to finding – and keeping – your balance!   

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