People fall at all ages. The better your balance is, the more likely that a fall is caused by unexpected circumstances (water on a marble floor while on holiday, taking a corner too fast on a bike), or something else crashing into you (fellow players, runaway dogs).
But how hard we fall, and the consequences, do change with time. The truth is, we all need a little nudge to check the factors that make an unwanted wobble more likely.
Scientific literature identifies 21 risk factors for falls – across all populations. Some are difficult to monitor or only applicable to certain subsets of people. At Zibrio, we’ve narrowed our focus to six major factors which have the biggest impact and are mainly modifiable by our habits.
For example, how well do you sleep? Not only is sleep vital for muscle repair and growth in training, but a recent study at the University of Warwick in the UK demonstrated how lack of sleep affects your balance. Even one night’s disrupted sleep significantly reduced the participants’ ability to balance the next day.
It’s something to bear in mind when you’re travelling to The Games this summer if you’re susceptible to time change, as it can affect your performance as well as your balance.
And though good sleep is so important, think twice before reaching for sleep aids (over-the-counter or prescription). Most sleep aids have a negative effect on balance. Even if you’ve used one for some time, our kidneys process drugs differently as we age, and can interact badly with any other medications you might need to take. This is definitely a discussion you want to have with your doctor.
If you are struggling to sleep, there are non-drug approaches that are worth trying. From sleep hygiene like cool temperatures, darkness, and avoiding screens before bedtime, there are also a number of sleep-promoting meditations that can be accessed through free apps like Insight or Calm, which can help you drift off, or get back to sleep if woken during the night. Popping that pill is not the only option.
The Zibrio Balance Coach app is available free for smartphones at the Apple App Store and Google Play. Download it to get an insight into health habits that help or hurt your balance by simply answering the questions. Results are displayed in a traffic light format: red for danger, green for great. How many pieces can you get in the green zone?