Balancing act

Posted by on May 22, 2009 in exercise | 1 comment


We all know that aging is associated with a decline in balance. But can it also foretell a decline in muscle strength? Apparently so. At least in so far as hormones go.

Reporting in the Publish Ahead of Print issue of Menopause, researchers say that the stage of menopause can predict your physical prowess. 979 women between the ages of 43 and 57 underwent evaluations for flexibility (stand and reach, sit and reach), muscle strength (grip and pinch) and balance (one legged standing with eyes open or closed) to determine their physical performance. Among the study participants, 44.4% were premenopausal, 25.8% in perimenopause and 29.7% in postmenopause.

While the results did not reveal any differences in flexibility among the women, they did show that women in perimenopause or postmenopause had significantly weaker grip strengths than their premenopausal peers. What’s more, their ability to stand and balance was significantly shorter by approximately 20 seconds. These differences remained even after the researchers adjusted for factors that might skew the results.

Life is undoubtedly a balancing act and trying to squeeze an exercise regimen into an otherwise overcrowded life can be difficult. However, this study suggests that the earlier we engage in physical activity, the more likely it is that we can overcome some of the inevabilities of menopause.

The BOSU® trainer is a relatively affordable and low-impact way to build core strength and improve overall balance. Personally, I’ve been using it for years now and have experienced a noticeable difference. My dad, who is 82, also uses the BOSU and likes it immensely.  Tai Chi may also help to promote balance while also reducing stress. Grip strength can be tackled through exercises that strengthen the forearms, e.g., squeezing a tennis ball or forearm curls. An intensive listing of forearm exercises can be found here, although like any physical activity, it’s best to speak to a trainer or a healthcare professional before embarking on any new activity.

I am a firm believer in an ounce of prevention. The earlier we start using, the later we start losing. In this case, more is less for sure!

One Comment

  1. 5-22-2009

    I also use a BOSU on a regular basis and have improved balance and core strength because of it. I would also like to mention that my children love, love, love to play with their grandfather’s BOSU though I can assure you they are not working on their balance. Heaven knows what they do with that thing…. Oy.

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