Balance, fitness and aging

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
January 30, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
Do you know an older person who has fallen and has broken a bone? Unfortunately, it's a very common experience. And procrastinating against it is an often overlooked part of health fitness.It's balance fitness.

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Being physically fit means having good lung function, agility and strength. But, particularly if you are older, being fit also means having good balance. It is something a person can learn and refine.

Falling and breaking a bone can lead an older person into a downward spiral. It can mean hospitalization, loss of independence and sometimes even loss of life. And balance becomes harder to maintain as we age.

"It is probably one of the most underrated aspects of fitness," said Dr. Marilyn Moffet, of NYU. "And it's probably one of the most important."

Rose Chiu and Mary Ellen Liona are New Yorkers in their mid-sixties who volunteered to have Dr. Moffet check their balance fitness.

The first tests were easy, standing without use of the arms or eyes for balance; chairs were there for safety.

Then, it got more challenging.

Up on the toes, hands crossed at chest, then bend one knee back. It's not easy.

"These kinds of things you can do when you're brushing your teeth in the morning," Dr. Moffet said. "Just balance yourself on your desk or on your sink."

For moving balance, Dr.Moffet did a rapid sitting to standing exercise. She says it's is a good exercise one can use to improve leg, buttocks and ankle strength.

"You're going to rise up on the balls of your feet as fast as you can," she said.

Dr. Moffet has written a book called "Age Defying Fitness" that details exercises that improve not only balance, but other fitness aspects like flexibility and strength.

Even steps as simple as toe to heel walking, toe walking and heel walking be used during the day to help us improve our balance.

It's an issue that Mary Ellen is now thinking about.

"I don't want to fall and break my hip," she said. "You reach a certain age and you think about the hip."

Book Info:

Age-Defying Fitness: Making the Most of Your Body for the Rest of Your Life
By: Marilyn Moffat, Carole B. Lewis, Carole Bernstein Lewis

Other Related Information:

"Age-Defying Fitness" is a practical guidebook by two of the nation's top physical therapists.

Using their easy everyday approach, you can learn how to assess your fitness levels in five critical domains:

Posture, Balance, Strength, Flexibility and Endurance.

And create a specific personal program to achieve optimum physical health!

Visit to take a quiz and use targeted assessments and practice exercises to develop your individualized program.