What Activities Help with Balance?

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If you live in an apartment building or a multi-story house, you may dread taking the stairs each day. And, if you're older, you might think that dodging the stairs means you're less likely to stumble and trip. However, in reality, walking up a couple of flights of steps actually does plenty to preserve your balance as you age.

Livestrong’s recent article entitled “Want to Age Well? This Everyday Activity Improves Balance and Prevents Falls” says that standing on one leg (as you do when climbing stairs) helps strengthen muscles, including your core, glutes, quads and calves. However, the benefits of stair climbing don’t stop there.

Lower-Body Strength. Because climbing motions move your hip, knee and ankle joints, stairs can help strengthen all the muscles in your legs, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Strengthening these muscles is important as you get older because age-related muscle loss can put you at a higher risk for falls. About one in four older adults experience a fall each year. However, when you have a solid base of support, you’re less likely to take a tumble.

Mobility. This is key to keeping your independence later in life, according to the National Institute of Aging.

Mobility exercises keep your joints in top shape by moving them through their full range of motion. It lets you do the things you love, like playing with your grandchildren on the floor or tending to your garden.

Climbing stairs can improve mobility because it requires the use of the ankle, knee and hip joints.

It’s a fairly dynamic exercise that requires power, balance and strength. While climbing stairs may not specifically improve flexibility, moving through the range of motion needed can help keep the flexibility you need.

Cardiovascular Fitness. Climbing stairs is a cardio workout. That means it strengthens your heart and improves your aerobic capacity.

Bone Density. Your bones get stronger with exercise, and any weight-bearing exercise, like climbing stairs, forces you to work against gravity. This conditions your bones to take on the load and, therefore, strengthens them. This helps prevent the risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which your bones become weak and brittle, which increases with age.

Reference:  Livestrong (July 17, 2022) “Want to Age Well? This Everyday Activity Improves Balance and Prevents Falls”