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Loss of balance and endurance….is this really part of growing older?

August 2, 2018

Some things we can blame on age, and some things we just can’t.  Loss of balance and loss of endurance are two items that often occur together later in life, so it may seem that the timing would support this as an age related issue.  My 78 year old uncle who has had both knees replaced would beg to differ. He plays tennis, walks any terrain at a clip that would challenge a mountain goat, and will do so for hours at a time, completely unaffected.  Yes, he may have good genes, but that did not build endurance or bolster his balance capability to this extensive level.

Lack of Endurance

Lack of endurance generally means activity levels have been low for a while, and the body has adapted downward.  The mistake most often made, is giving in to the lack of endurance, thereby lowering the standards of what we expect from our bodies.  If we do less because we have low endurance, our tolerance to higher levels of activity will quickly adapt and decrease even more. Eventually, a sedentary lifestyle ensues, which brings an entire list of new  medical issues with it. Lack of endurance is countered simply by doing more sustained activity, slowly increasing over a period of time.

Why Endurance is Important

Physical endurance is your body’s ability to perform repetitive motions, lengthening and contracting over a period of time and last or continue an activity during fatigue, stress or other conditions.

As we age improving or maintaining endurance is important to quality of life, makes everyday task easier and give you more energy. Muscular endurance has beneficial effects on bone and joints as well. Healthy bones and joints may decrease the risk of osteoporosis, bone fractures and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Building endurance will have positivity influence your metabolism, helping you burn extra calories to loss weight or keep you at a healthy weight.

Lack of Balance

Lack of balance can be less obvious at first glance. When we are used to standing flat on both feet, centered, and symmetrical, we get used to flat, centered and symmetrical.  When was the last time you brushed your teeth standing on one foot….holding the toothbrush with your non dominant hand…..with your eyes closed? Ok…maybe try just one of those at first.  The classic test is this: Stand with your feet hip width apart (no…your hips are not that wide), cross your arms at your chest and close your eyes.  Can you stand still without wavering? Now try it on one leg. Yes, we are supposed to be able to do that.  Now can you juggle the good china overhead while standing on one leg?

Why Balance is Important

Balance is key to functional movement. Balance involve your postural equilibrium, muscular balance, joint dynamics, neuromuscular and stability. Balance is important to maintain stability and flexibility.

Balance is control. It is not surprising that balance is learned but can be improved. Building dexterity and strength that promotes good balance help you move smoothly and assuredly daily, whether we are gardening, playing with grandchildren, chasing down a taxi, or simply walking up the stairs. A good sense of balance along with a strong kinesthetic awareness of where your body is in relation to the things around you will help you react fast and prevent accidents and injuries.

The moral of the story is one we really already know; your body gets good at the things it practices.  If your lack of balance or endurance is due to injury, see your physical therapist for help. Improving your balance requires use of a little  imagination, but try just starting with some simple tasks as noted above, perhaps minus the good china. Endurance is pretty straightforward. Just beware of falling into the “I can’t walk that far, so I’ll just sit here and wait for you” syndrome.  Spring is here and summer is on its way. Time to get up and juggle some china.

Our job at Body Image Physical Therapy & Fitness is to provide the highest quality of care to the health needs of our community, Body Image Physical Therapy & Fitness, P.C. seeks to maintain the highest treatment standards and be a great source of information. If we can help you, contact us today!