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- Intense tai chi exercise training and fall occurrences in older, transitionally frail adults: A randomized, controlled trial
- Aquatic Exercise for Children with Cerebral Palsy
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- Fitness in Parkinson's Disease
- Physical Activity and Bone Health: Strategies for Exercise Prescription and Osteoporosis
Balance is defined as our ability to control our body's center of mass so that we can remain upright, even when we encounter a disturbance, such as a bump from another individual or when we trip over a crack in the sidewalk. Multiple systems contribute to our ability to balance in standing and moving environments. The sensory systems (i.e., vision, somatosensory, and vestibular) provide us with information about the surrounding environment. The motor system uses the information from the sensory systems to produce coordinated postural muscle activity to help us keep our balance.
Unfortunately, changes in these body systems are an inevitable consequence of aging, which is why losing our balance and suffering from a fall becomes more common as we age. With aging comes a loss of bone mass that leads to a higher risk of fractures in the elderly. Although we cannot prevent these changes from occurring, by strengthening specific postural muscles and challenging the sensory and motor systems, it is possible to decrease the likelihood of a fall.
In addition to strengthening muscles, there are several other things that an individual can do to decrease the chance of falling. One very important item to remember is to have your vision checked regularly. Many falls are the result of poor vision where an individual did not see a crack or a step. If an individual has a history of falls, or feels unsteady while walking around the home, it is important to remove loose rugs or soft carpeting that may cause one to trip. Make sure that there is adequate lighting in the house so one can see all potential hazards. Also make sure to wear low-heel supportive shoes, even at home. Avoid walking around in socks or backless slippers. It is also very important to keep electrical cords and telephone lines out of the walkway. In the bathroom, using a rubber bathmat both inside and outside the bathtub may decrease the risk of slipping while transferring in and out of a bath or shower.