In yoga we talk about having balance in our bodies, minds, and spirits.. When we are younger walking the straight and narrow doesn’t present too much of a challenge unless we are rushed, ill, or in my case trying to walk two dogs a the same time. As we age, staying balanced in our bodies can be challenging. Here are some reasons why your balance might be a little wobbly.

Inner Ear Disturbances

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common disorders that cause dizziness in seniors and results in intense vertigo – a sensation of spinning. BPPV can occur from simply moving your head, such as when you roll over and get out of bed or rise from sitting. It is an inner ear disturbance that is often brought on by mild to severe head trauma. BPPV may go away on its own within a few weeks or months.

Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that is known to affect balance. It develops when the inner ear becomes infected and inflamed, disrupting the transmission of nerve signals from the ear to the brain. Labyrinthitis is associated with the flu and can be treated with medication.

Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder where fluid builds up in the ear’s chambers. It causes symptoms such as dizziness (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and sporadic hearing loss. It can also cause you to feel nauseous and sick.

Medication Side Effects

Unfortunately, it seems the older we get, the more medication we have to take. All medications have side effects. Many, including blood pressure medication, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, and some cancer drugs, can have side effects that affect your balance. You should discuss any possible drug interactions and/or side effects with your provider.

At-Home Exercises To Improve Balance

With so many diseases and conditions that can affect your balance, it’s never too early to start taking steps to improve your balance and prevent falls. Just as you exercise to strengthen your heart, you need to exercise to increase your balance. Many of these exercises can be done in minutes and while you’re watching TV. You don’t even have to carve time out of your day to do them. Just remember to listen to your body. If you become dizzy, stop and rest. Don’t overdo it.

  1. Heel Raises-stand tall and rock onto your toes. Start by alternating lifting your heels; then rock onto your toes and lift both heels together. Start with about 6 repetitions and work your way up to twenty.
  2. Knee Raises-stand tall and alternately lift a knee at a time. Gradually increase the time between each knee lift.
  3. Flamingo-standing on one leg at a time, with the non standing leg bent so that your heel is touching your bottom.
  4. Tree pose-This yoga pose is perfect to maintain your balance.
  5. Eagle Pose-another yoga pose that helps with balance. Combine with eagle arms to also open and strengthen the back and chest.

Remember you can use the back of a chair or a wall to help with your balance until you feel ready to do it without assistance.

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