Feel a little wobbly sometimes? Sneaky, age-related balance changes start in midlife — earlier than medical experts used to think, recent research shows. That can mean grabbing stair railings more often, feeling less confident on a rocky walking trail or uneven sidewalk, and even boosting risk for a dangerous tumble. Fight back with strategies that fine-tune your sense of balance from head to toes.
“Oftentimes people don’t realize they’re having balance problems until they have that first fall,” says Debra Rose, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and codirector of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at California State University, Fullerton. “You may just feel like your feet aren’t under you as well as they used to be.”
When 775 women and men tried to stand on one leg for 60 seconds without extra support for a 2017 Duke University study, this classic balance test revealed a big age divide. Participants in their 30s stayed upright for an impressive 57 seconds and 40-somethings lasted 52 seconds. But those in their 50s lost their balance after 44 seconds, 60-year-olds wobbled after 40 seconds and 70-year-olds after just 27 seconds. That could mean big trouble. There’s a growing realization that injury-causing falls aren’t only a threat for older adults. They’re common at midlife too, sending 2.1 million people ages 45 to 64 to U.S. emergency rooms in 2017.
Excerpted from AARP