Balance. It works for us in our everyday life. And it works for our bodies. However, the aging process isn't always kind to our sense of balance, or general coordination. Our basic sensory organs -- eyes, inner ears and proprioceptors (the sensory receptors that receive stimuli and respond to position and movement) -- can all fall victim to Father Time.
The adage, "If you don't use it, you lose it," holds true. While improved bone density is one line of defense from fractures in potential falls, the best defense is to avoid falling altogether. And that's why balance is so important.
Weight-bearing exercise helps keep those sensory organs sharp. It's been linked to fewer falls in older populations, even if they don't begin such an exercise program until later in life. Falls were significantly decreased in study populations after just 12 to 18 months of beginning a regular, weight-bearing exercise program [source: McMurdo].
Low-impact weight-bearing exercises such yoga, tai chi, qigong and even dancing are exceptional choices for improving overall balance, strength and health [source: WebMD]. For example, in a 2006 study published in "Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine," Stanford University researchers reported benefits of tai chi in 39 women and men, average age 66, with below-average fitness and at least one cardiovascular risk factor [source: Harvard].
Exercise not only provides a sound body, but a sound mind as well. How? Keep reading.