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How Aging Affects Balance


According to the National Institute of Health, 1 in 3 people over age 65 will experience a fall each year. Everyone has heard that a person’s falls risk increases with age, but there are changes that occur much earlier than you would think, that can affect balance.


Studies have shown that after age 35 there is typically a 1-2% loss in muscle mass per year. This is important because a loss in muscle can impact bone density and can lead to difficulty in completing normal activities of daily living over time. Weakness can also affect joint range of motion and the way a person moves or walks, which in turn can cause tripping and even falls.


Aging also affects circulation and we become less efficient in pumping blood throughout our body. This can cause a drop in blood pressure when a person moves to quickly or changes positions. This drop can cause temporary dizziness or lightheadedness which can upset our balance. Many medications also have side effects that include blood pressure changes, dizziness, and balance loss.


Reaction time and coordination decrease as we age for multiple reasons. There is a loss of cells in our inner ear, which changes the input of our vestibular system (the balance system in our inner ear). There are cognitive changes that impair our brain’s ability to integrate input from the environment into a motor response and visual changes including poor night vision and decreased depth perception that affect the information our brain is receiving.


Despite all these age-related changes that hinder our balance and can cause an increase in falls for those over 65, there is a way to minimize the effects. Regular exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of falls. A program that focuses on strengthening, cardiovascular conditioning, and balance training can improve body mechanics and counter the effects of aging.


Radect offers a variety of exercise programs and we have a team of specialists including yoga ambassadors, physical therapists, and medical providers that can help identify your individual risk for falls. We will guide you to the activities that will reduce that risk and promote the healthiest version of you possible.

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