When it comes to longevity, we normally head for the expensive creams and potions. I have to raise my hand and say "yep, I've done this". But there is more to longevity than slapping on these creams over our body.
Keeping your brain strong is a big part of longevity. I'm talking about memory, cognitive function and coordination to name a few.
Several studies have looked at the relationship between balance and age-related brain decline. In one such study published in Frontiers In Behavioural Neuroscience, researchers were able to show how balance training improves neurological function in elderly people.
As people age, their way of keeping balance shifts from automatic to more conscious control, leading to stability issues - ie you have to.think about balance at each step, rather than it being an automatic process. The article explores the impact of balance training on both physical stability and brain activity in older adults. After 5 weeks of balance training, there was a trend towards improved stability and reduced brain activity during challenging balance tasks. This indicates that such training might reverse age-related brain over-activity and potentially bring about posture control changes similar to those seen in younger adults.
That's not bad for just 5 weeks training!
And if you thought at was magical - here are 10 additional benefits of balance training.
Improved balance positively correlates with enhanced cognitive functions, including memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.
Activities that challenge balance stimulate the brain's neuroplasticity, fostering the formation of new neural connections and adaptability.
Better balance is synonymous with improved coordination, as it requires precise communication between the brain and muscles.
Prevention of Falls:
Enhanced balance reduces the risk of falls, preventing injuries that can negatively impact both physical and cognitive health.
Activities promoting balance enhance proprioception, the body's awareness of its position in space, leading to better spatial cognition.
Balance exercises stimulate the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, contributing to improved mood and reducing the risk of depression.
Vestibular System Health:
Balance activities support the vestibular system, which plays a crucial role in spatial orientation and overall equilibrium.
Maintaining balance engages various muscle groups, promoting strength, flexibility, and endurance, all of which contribute to overall physical health.
Better balance leads to improved posture, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal issues and promoting long-term spinal health.
Engaging in activities that challenge balance contributes to building cognitive reserve, a protective factor against age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
There are many ways you can do balance training. Yoga and Pilates are probably top of the list. But if you don't have time to go to a class, start at home by just standing straight, lifting one foot off the floor while balancing on the other. In the beginning you may need to hold on to a wall or a chair to get your balance, that's okay.
As you continue to practice notice your balance gets stronger and your brain ets sharper.