Sleep Has Major Impact on Balance: New Study Shows

A team of researchers from the University of Warwick, in the UK, has  published research showing that poor quality sleep reduces a person’s ability to balance the next day.

The research was conducted on healthy adults with no history of sleep problems, and ranging in age from 24-34. They were monitored over two days in their own homes using latests sensors to measure their quality of sleep. Their balance was measured in a gait lab, and other information was gathered in the form of sleep diaries and questionnaires.

The researchers say the results are very clear:

Subjects with a day-to-day deterioration in sleep quantity and quality … exhibited significant changes in balance. Conversely, subjects with no significant alterations in sleep quantity and quality showed no significant changes in [balance measurements].

The study has some limitations as there were only 20 participants, and did not include a very wide age range, but the team hypothesize that if young, healthy adults suffer poorer balance after sleep disruption, then the effect on older adults is likely to be even greater.

When tired, the study participants showed significantly worse balance when tested with eyes closed vs eyes open, compared to those who had rested well, meaning that we rely on vision even more when fatigued, and vision is typically worse in older adults than in younger people, exacerbating the effect on stability and balance.

This research demonstrates something many people can identify with – a feeling of wobbliness after a wakeful or disturbed night. Being tired really does put you at greater risk of falling, because your ability to balance, and react to outside events, is lower when tired.

How to Sleep Better

Daily habits have an effect on our sleep, and experts recommend keeping a sleep diary for a couple of weeks to help work out where improvements can be made.

Improvement advice falls into 3 areas:

  • What you put into your body
  • Your sleep environment
  • Your mental state

It’s best to avoid heavy meals, alcohol or caffeine before bed, and also to reduce any liquid consumption in the evening, to avoid late night bathroom visits.

Keep work and other electronic devices away from your bedroom, make it a peaceful, cool environment that you use only for sleeping and intimacy.

Set an alarm to help you get 7 hours of sleep, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Make sleep a priority, but don’t get anxious about it. If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes, get up and read a book. Allow yourself to simply rest. Practise mindfulness or meditative breathing.

Making sure that you get some exercise every day is another way of improving your quality of sleep.

Click here to read the original research, published in Nature

 

Holiday Balance Tips

have your cake and eat it

The holidays should be a time for celebration with family and friends, but often, in the endless round of preparation, shopping and parties, one of the first things to be sacrificed are the habits that keep us healthy.

But you don’t have to sacrifice your balance – or your health, if you keep in mind some simple tricks:

  1. Small actions help. Give yourself 5-10 minutes in the morning to do some light exercise: yoga stretches, Tai Chi sequences, anything that fires the connection between brain and muscles. If you don’t have time in the morning, fit it in later in the day.
  2. Use the dead time. When brushing your teeth, or waiting in line at the store, practise standing on one leg, the other raised just off the floor. Make sure there is something sturdy nearby to keep you safe should you need it.
  3. Keep moving. You don’t even need your workout clothes. Take every opportunity to get up and move around, or choose to stand instead of sit, and walk instead of drive wherever possible.
  4. Drink water. Dehydration adds to fatigue, which is bad for balance. We don’t feel as thirsty in the colder weather, so make a point of drinking water often. Added bonus: nutritionists recommend starting every party with a glass of water to cut down on the empty calories.
  5. Protect your sleep. Set an alarm if necessary, and get to bed in time to get a full night’s rest. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t avoid some late nights. Enjoy them! and try to give yourself some extra rest the following day. Even a 5-10 minute period of meditation or mindfulness can help soothe a tired nervous system and combat holiday stress.

For further information on the many influences on your balance and how to help them, check out our:

Free ebook

 

Wishing you a better balanced holiday season this year.

New Guidelines for Health

keep moving

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has updated the physical activity guidelines for all Americans.

Main takeaways include:

  • Adults of all ages should move more and sit less
  • Any moderate to vigorous activity counts (and there are some ideas and planners available – see below)
  • Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise
  • All adults should do some kind of strength training at least 2 days per week
  • Any amount of exercise has immediate benefits, including less anxiety, lower blood pressure, better sleep and better insulin response
  • New research shows even more long term benefits for those who exercise, including reducing the risk of 8 types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, stomach, and lung).
  • Exercise also reduces the risk of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), all-cause mortality, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression; and improves bone health, physical function, and quality of life.
  • For older adults, physical activity also lowers the risk of falls and injuries from falls.
  • New research also highlights that exercise helps manage chronic conditions: reduces pain from osteoarthrits, slow progression for hypertension and type 2 diabetes, manage symptoms of Parkinsons, dementia, anxiety and depression.

Lots of activities can be counted as exercise, including shoveling snow and playing with children or pets. There are also so many exercises to choose from, to help ward off boredom and increase the chance to socialize with others.

Give yourself the gift of better health this holiday season, and well into the future. You can check out the health.gov planner by clicking on the link below.

Move Your Way link: Want to get more physical activity? Build a weekly plan

Signs Your Balance Needs Attention

what you give up without balance

At a health fair recently, we asked people to complete the following sentence:

If I had good balance, I’d be able to …

Stop there a moment. What would you like to do, or learn to do, if you were confident in your balance?

Some answers were not so surprising. Travel came up a lot. Some people talked about fears of walking outside on wet, leafy or icy sidewalks. Others wanted to visit friends at the other end of the country or go hiking in a National Park.

A woman in her 70’s told a story of visiting family who were extending their house, adding a floor. She happily walked up the rough steps to take a look and only noticed the lack of handrail (or anything sturdy) when she turned to come back down again.

“Until you push yourself into doing something different, you don’t know you have a problem”

A man in his late 60’s was more concerned with everyday inconveniences:

“Be able to put on my pants standing up”

Which got us thinking. When we’re comfortable in our routines, we don’t push the limits. It’s easy to put it off till tomorrow (and the day after). Until walking unsupported down stairs feels dangerous, and then even simpler, everyday things like dressing, have to be modified.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are some simple balance specific exercises to help with overall balance – click here to read them. And when it comes to quad strength (the muscles at the front of the thigh), the Center for Disease Control recommends the following exercise, which has a positive effect on balance:

Chair Sit to Stand

  1. Start sitting on a dining room chair (or similar firm chair)
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor
  3. Stand without using your arms to push up
  4. If you need to use your arms, try to use them as little as possible, and work towards not using them at all
  5. Take a moment to breathe and steady yourself while standing
  6. Sit back down slowly (don’t flop into the chair, control your movement)
  7. Repeat 10-15 times
  8. If you can’t do 10 to start with, do as many as you can and then rest. Try to do one more the next day

If you suffer from dizziness or light headedness when standing, this is not a recommended exercise. As with all exercise, you should speak with your doctor first before exerting yourself, and use common sense about what is safe for you to accomplish.

Think about your routine. What do you not do anymore that you’d like to? What steps can you put in place to make it possible again? It’s interesting how often better balance can be the key to the problem.

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Meet the Ambassador: Trainer Ellen Rodriguez

We’re delighted to introduce marathon runner and personal trainer Ellen Rodriguez as a Zibrio Balance Ambassador.

Ellen’s passion is to understand her clients’ goals and current status, so that she can customize workouts and more to help them succeed, and surpass those goals.

A long-time runner, Ellen completed various marathons and ultra marathons in the 1990’s. In 1996 she was part of a Houston Area Road Runners Association women’s team who established a Guinness World Record for the 100 x 1 mile relay.  In 2000, she switched focus to 5k and 10k distances, and after training from the legendary Tom Tellez (University of Houston and Carl Lewis’ coach), she started winning age group awards (though she won’t say which age groups!). Since 2011 she has been running with Power in Motion (affiliated with HARRA).

Her long-time friend, Carl Lewis (Olympic champion and author of One More Victory Lap (1996), she began organized strength training and used a personal trainer for the first time. It was a turning point that decided her to help other runners improve their performance.

She became a certified personal trainer herself with ACE (American Council on Exercise), and P.F.I.T. in association with the American College of Integrative  Medicine. She also holds certifications for:

  • Pilates Mat Instructor (Powerhous Pilates)
  • Sports Conditioning Specialist (International  Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA))
  • Golf Conditioning Specialist (IFPA)
  • Aquatic Exercise Association Member
  • IDEA Health and Fitness Association Member

Her own workouts include running, bicycle spinning, strength training and pilates. You may even see her at the Memorial Park Golf driving range. One of her proudest achievements is to be a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. She says “It’s one of the easiest programs to follow and it worked well for me.”

Find Ellen at Houston Inner Loop Trainer, and at 550 Westcott St, Suite 340, Houston, Tx 77007

Meet the Ambassador: Trainer June

balance ambassador

We’re delighted to introduce personal trainer June as a Zibrio Balance Ambassador.

In 2008 June became a certified fitness trainer with the National Personal Trainer Institute and in 2010 she started teaching Pilates at Exxon Mobile Health Club.  She is also a certified TaiChi instructor with the China TaiChi Association.

June is experienced in pre and post surgery strength training after her clients have recieved physical therapy, and describes herself as the all-important bridge between where physical therapy ends and regular gym work can begin.

Trainer June also specializes in weight loss management and nutrition counseling. She is passionate about seniors and disability exercise and throughout the years, has seen her clients go beyond their limits with an active lifestyle.

June believes that a healthy body, mind and soul is key to enjoying life in abundance. Her focus is helping people live a happy, abundant life while taking care of their inner health. 

She can be found on Facebook (click the link), and if you live in the Houston area, you can visit her gym at Fit Just 4U:

10008 Stella Link Rd, Houston, TX 77025

Fit Just 4U is different to regular gyms as there are no monthly fees, no crowds. Visits are by appointment to get the help you need on your schedule.

 

Why Balance is Like Flossing

teeth in balance

You’re lying in the dentist’s chair and he or she asks whether you floss regularly. You nod, and avoid their eyes. Because you know they can see, from the plaque on your teeth, that ‘regularly’ is stretching the truth a bit. You own floss, you do use it – especially after eating ribs or corn – but not exactly every day.

So it is with most of our health. We know what we should be doing, but unless someone is holding up a mirror to us, or displaying pounds on a scale, we sometimes gloss over the truth to ourselves.

Balance is in many ways a holistic measure of a person’s health and fitness. So if you exercise regularly, and challenge your muscles and your balance, it will improve. If you have a period of time where you’re just going through the motions, or skipping the difficult exercises, your balance will deteriorate over time.

Like flossing, you really can’t fake it.

The good news is that, unlike flossing, you can take up balance exercises at any point and start to see improvements within a short period of time. How quickly will depend on a number of factors, including your general fitness and how hard you work at it. There is no quick fix: only by doing will your balance improve.

What should I do?

If you’ve been neglecting balance – or never worked specifically on balance before, it’s worth talking to a personal trainer or instructor who can help assess where you are and how best to move forwards. If you like the social element of group exercise classes, look for Tai Chi or beginner’s yoga near you. The instructor will help you form the poses correctly to maximize benefit and minimize risk of injury.

Even if you’re a regular exerciser or sportsperson, it’s worth checking that you’ve not fallen into a rut with your training. Adding balance training into your workout can help avoid injury and overtraining too.

Free ebook on balance

Click the link above to receive a free ebook on balance and how it works in the body.

Free Balance Screening

secret to better balance

This Fall, the Zibrio team will be running free balance events at various locations in the Houston, Tx, area.

If you’ve always wanted to know how to measure your balance, or understand the factors which affect your balance , come along to one of the following locations.

Simply stand on the smart Zibrio scale for 1 minute. You’ll receive your unique balance score – a snapshot of how you’re balancing today – as well as personalized insights into how to improve it.

We look forward to meeting you!

Bayland Community Center: 18 September 2018 @ 9.15am
Tracy Gee Community Center: 19 September 2018 @ 8.30 am
Houstonian Club22 September 2018 @10 am
Trini Mendenhall Community Center26 September 2018 @ 9.00am
Starbucks, Augusta Drive: 9 October 2018 @ 9.30 am
Trotter YMCA, Augusta Drive: 31 October 2018 @ 10.30 am

For further information, contact us, or one of the centers directly.

Why Fall Prevention?

Fall Prevention

What’s the big deal about falling? Everyone falls from time to time, right? But how many people do you know who’ve fallen, had to move into care, and even died as a result? Every 13 seconds an adult over 65 is admitted to the ER after injuring themselves in a fall.

The costs of a bad fall are not just in medical expenses. It’s the loss of independence, which often leads to isolation and depression, that worries many older adults. As a result, some become cautious and give up doing what they love, hoping to stay safe.

Unfortunately, this has the opposite effect.

The single most important way of preventing a fall is to keep active.

A key difference between a stumble and full-on fall is how fast your brain and muscles can react to catch you. That only comes with continued use, and even, with specialised balance training.

Those who take up an exercise class and stick with it report a host of additional benefits: making friends, feeling more energetic and interested in life, happiness at still being able to line dance, or travel at age 89 and beyond.

There are many resources out there to help manage all kinds of balance problems. Your doctor and pharmacist are a good place to start to check your medications. Physical therapy and Tai Chi are especially well documented for improving balance.

We’re living longer, let’s make sure we enjoy those extra years.

Tell me more about balance

 

There is more information from the Center for Disease Control on the cost of falls, and some sensible steps everyone can take to avoid them.

September 22 is  Falls Prevention Awareness Day, the 10th anniversary of the initiative set up by the National Council on Aging. #FPAD18

Title image courtesy of National Senior Games Association

How To Protect Your Vacation And Come Home Injury-Free

protect balance on vacation

The danger that no-one is talking about.

The internet is full of helpful articles warning people of the higher risk of car accidents in the summer months, or of how to protect ourselves from food poisioning while on vacation. A few sites even tackle the dangers in taking up an adventure sport like windsurfing – or even jet skiing – without proper preparation or training.

But there is something fundemental to everything we do – whether on vacation or not – that no-one is talking about. It’s so important yet for most of our lives we go about doing it unconsciously.

But it can still ruin the entire holiday if we neglect it.

The ability to balance, and the risk of falling, are not just issues for the very young or very old.

Aside from frailty, two of the biggest impacts on our balance are from fatigue and lack of attention. When we travel, we have to deal with fatigue: from jet lag to sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings, being too hot or too cold, staying out later, becoming dehydrated, or simply becoming tired by all the sights and sounds of the new location.

When we’re out of our habitual surroundings, there is a lot more for our brains to notice, process and understand. And it doesn’t have to be as difficult as making yourself understood in a foreign language. Navigating an unfamiliar city in your home country also requires more effort from your brain.

All of that is tiring. And when we are tired, not only are our reaction times (to the uneven pavement, for example) slower, but the vigor of our response is also lower, making it more likely that a stumble will result in a fall all the way to the ground.

At home, in familiar surroundings, we can pay more attention to where we walk, how fast we turn around, and thereby mitigate the risk of a fall on days when we feel weak or tired. But on vacation, the chances are that, even while tired, we need to use our attention to help us find our way in the new location, to understand that different accent, to absorb the new sights and sounds. We don’t want to miss out. And so we are doubly vulnerable.

Help protect your vacation and come home injury free:

  • Plan for time to catch up on sleep while away
  • If you’re crossing time zones, remember it takes about a day to normalize for every hour of time zone
  • Give your fitness a boost by exercising before you go away, and plan to keep doing something while away – walking, using the hotel gym
  • If you take medications, try not to start a new one just before going away. And make sure you take them in your hand luggage as changing the dose either up or down can impact your balance (not to mention your health!)