Woman's World

Cure clumsiness!



or uneven sidewalks . . . high heels . . . a touch of dizziness . . . all of us sometimes stumble. However, after age 50, it’s all too common to develop balance problems due to muscle, vision or inner ear changes. The great news: It doesn’t have to happen to you!

Improve coordinati­on by standing on one foot!

Certain simple exercises can improve your balance at any age. One to try: Stand on one foot for 10 seconds while, say, brushing your teeth or standing in line. Repeat 10 to 15 times, then switch to the other foot. (Work your way up to standing on each foot for 30 seconds.) Another option is the chair stand: From a sitting position, slowly stand up while exhaling, then gradually sit down while inhaling. Repeat 10 times. You can find more easy balance exercises at Go4life.nia.nih.gov.

Defy gravity with yoga!

Gentle yoga stretches are studyprove­n to significan­tly improve balance. “They work by strengthen­ing leg muscles and boosting confidence,” says Anna Miller, M.D., associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. Her top pick is “tree pose”: Standing with legs shoulder-width apart, bend your right knee and place your right foot against the inner thigh of your left leg; clasp your hands above your head. Hold for as long as you can, then switch sides.

Strengthen your structure with yogurt! Weak bones can cause balance woes! Why? When bones thin, they thin all over, including in the tiny ear bones that regulate dizziness, reports the journal Neurology. A cup of yogurt is an easy way to get bone-building calcium daily— one serving of fat-free plain Stonyfield Farms yogurt, for example, contains 30% of your calcium for the day. ■ Tip: Layer your yogurt with a serving of fortified cereal, and you’ll get more than the recommende­d 1,000 mg. to 1,200 mg. of calcium daily!

Stay upright by being smartphone savvy!

Spending too much time staring at your smartphone can actually cause a type of motion sickness (known as sensory conflict), making you feel wobbly and less sure-footed! “Sensory conflict is the primary basis for all of the discomfort people have looking at a screen,” explains Steven Rauch, M.D., medical director of the Massachuse­tts Eye and Ear Balance and Vestibular Center. “If the stuff on the screen is moving and the visuals don’t agree with the fact that you’re sitting on your couch, it can evoke queasiness and dizziness.” The problem is common, affecting as many as 80% of people, and women are more prone to it than men! A surefire fix: Simply take frequent breaks from your smartphone or tablet!

— Leigh Farr

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