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Taking Steps to Better Balance

October 9, 2009
Nikki Carrion MA

There are a host of benefits shown to be associated with being physically active, including improved physical balance. However, many find getting started to be a challenge. The challenge increases with age as we are often faced with health issues.

Even with health issues taken into consideration, the majority of us can be physically active with proper guidance in place. Researchers suggest increasing physical activity is likely to increase energy, strength, stamina, balance and flexibility while it also serves to ease the aches and pains often related to common health issues such as arthritis and back pain.

However, knowing this doesn't answer concerns many people have such as "which exercise is right for me, where should I start, and how much is too much?" The answer is good communication, starting with a health care provider who can often provide information in terms of where to start. He or she can also offer programming recommendations for specific problems (i.e. back exercises/stretches for back pain). A referral may then be made to see a fitness professional (i.e. physical therapist or

personal trainer) who has experience working with individuals who have similar health issues and/or who may have information related to community resources related to the topic of being physically active.

An example of an excellent community resource is a research-based program called A Matter of Balance (MoB). MoB is piloting at the Cedar Falls Community Center, with 2 sessions being offered, beginning the last week of October. This research-based 8-week class is being referred by the National Council on Aging as a "model health program for communities." The following bullets provide information related to the classes:

MoB classes help participants learn to:

- View falls and fear of falling as controllable.

-Set realistic goals for increasing levels of activity.

-Change their physical environment to reduce fall risk factors.

-Promote physical activity with a goal to increase strength, flexibility and balance.

MoB classes are designed to benefit community-dwelling older adults who:

are concerned about falling, have sustained a fall in the past. Restrict their activities because of concerns about falling. Are interested in improving flexibility, balance and strength. Are age 60 or older, ambulatory and able to problem-solve.

Together with FitXpress, Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging (HVAAA) will offer MoB classes not only in Cedar Falls, but across the counties HVAAA serves (e.g. Black Hawk, Butler, Bremer, Buchanan, Poweshiek, Hardin, Tama, Grundy, Marshall and Chickasaw) as the needed level of interest presents itself. There will be no fee, and a minimum of 8 participants will be needed in order for a class to take place. For more information

and/or to get your name on a waiting list for a MoB class, call Nikki Carrion at 1-800-481-7449. Call now to take advantage of this opportunity to take steps to better balance and to be empowered to improved functional fitness.

Source: Maine Health's Partnership for Healthy Aging; 2009.



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