As the fifth most hazardous safety issue in the workplace, preventing slips and falls is essential.
To that end, working on your balance can play a key role in your ability to avoid a potential disaster. So how do you test your balance, to be sure you are in tip-top shape?
Here is an easy test: If you find that you need to sit down to take off your shoes, it might be time to start paying attention to your sense of balance.
According to Jason Jackson, a physical therapist at Mount Sinai Hospital, people don’t typically think about balance until they fall, but little signs such as relying on handrails to go up and down stairs can be early warnings that stability is starting to go.
An important age range for improving balance is the 30s and 40s. While most people don’t develop serious balance problems until well into their 50s, experts recommend that otherwise healthy people keep active and do simple exercises to challenge the body and keep steady into old age.
In the U.S., falls are the leading cause of injury for people over 65, according to a 2005 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every 17 seconds, someone in this age group is treated in an emergency room for a fall. Every 30 minutes, one will die from injuries caused by falling.
- Walk in a circle. Make the circle smaller and smaller so the curve becomes tighter.
- Stand on one leg (hold on to a counter if you need to) and do leg lifts to the front, side, back, and up like you’re marching. This exercises four groups of muscles in your hips.
- Get up from your chair 10 times in a row without leaning on arm rests. Alternate between your feet in wide stance and close together. Make it more difficult by closing your eyes.
- Put five cones (or other objects) in a straight line and weave between them.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Put your right foot in front of your left, and shift your weight onto your right foot so that the left heel is off the ground. Do this 10 times.