|Sue Schonberger demonstrates the split stance. Without moving your feet and legs, rotate at the hips and look around from side to side. This exercise is good for the hips and helps build your balance. Photo by Patti Hartog|
Chad Garvey, doctor of Physical Therapy at KORT Physical Therapy in downtown Louisville, says, “Our feet and ankles give our brains all the information we have about the earth.” Maintaining good balance, he suggests, requires focusing on three factors: strength, balance, and flexibility.
Want to test your balance? Here are some exercises recommended by Chad, in conjunction with Milestone Wellness Center colleagues Sue Schonberger (group exercise director) and Martha Thomas (Tai Chi/Qi Gong teacher):
Take one of these tests periodically to evaluate your current balance ability.
- Get out of a chair without using your arms. Cross your arms across your chest. Stand up and sit back down five times. This should take no more than 11 seconds for 60-80 year-olds and no more than 15 seconds for 80-90 year-olds. For those in their 50s or younger, it should take less than 10 seconds.
- Get up from a chair, walk 10 feet, and go back to the chair. If you can do that in under 10 seconds, that’s good. If you take over 14 seconds, you’re at a greater risk of falling.
- Stand near a counter in case you need stability, and stand on one foot. Time yourself. If you put your foot down or need to grab the counter, stop the timer. Repeat on the other side. Compare yourself to the following chart of norms for various ages:
- 20-49 years old 24-28 seconds
- 50-59 years old 21 seconds
- 60-69 years old 10 seconds
- 70-79 years old 4 seconds
- 80-89 years old most cannot do it at all
By Megan S. Willman