When you are young, you can walk confidently just about anywhere without much thought – such as on an uneven sidewalk – or while chatting at the same time. As you get older, just glancing sideways a store window while strolling can make you wobble – and fall. Here are a couple of moves that will help keep you steadier on your feet.
When you turn your head, a response causes your brain to send messages to adjust your postural muscles to keep you from being pulled in the direction your head turns. Your response reflex can become less effective as you age, causing you to often stumble while turning your head.
How To Do It:
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. If you need to, you can hold on to a railing, wall, a sturdy piece of furniture, or counter for support. Now slowly turn your head as far as you comfortably can to the right and then to the left, while maintaining upright posture. Repeat as a continuous movement for 10 repetitions. Make sure to stay upright without leaning to one side. If you feel dizzy, pause, then continue at a slower pace.
For an Additional Challenge:
If you held on to a support, try doing the exercise without holding on to anything. Or try it with your feet only a few inches apart… or with your feet together – or with one foot in front of the other, heel-to-toe. Don’t over extend your ability – safety first!
Try this exercise once you feel comfortable with standing head turns. You will look left and right as you walk, similar to what you might do when scanning shelves while grocery shopping.
How To Do It:
Stand at one end of a long hallway, with feet hip-width apart. Turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Maintaining that gaze, take three of four steps forward. Now turn your head to look over your left shoulder while you continue to walk forward another three or four steps. Repeat for a total of five times per side. If you feel dizzy or unsteady, stop turning your head and gaze straight ahead for a few steps. To increase the challenge, increase how quickly you turn your head.
Try head turns in a store or library – having a stationary visual target, recruits your vision while challenging your reflexes.