Dr. James Katz, a preventive medicine doctor with a private concierge practice in Boston, believes everyone could benefit from regular balance training. The 63-year-old credits his balance skills with preventing a fracture or concussion when he crashed his bike while heading into a Cambridge intersection.
A 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal backs him up. In a review of 17 clinical trials involving more than 4,300 participants over age 60, French researchers found that those who were taught to practice balance exercises each day had a 37 percent reduced risk of getting injured in a fall and a 61 percent lower risk of experiencing a broken bone from the fall, compared with those who didn’t practice the balancing exercises.
Researchers can’t fully explain why improved balance would prevent injuries from falls, Katz told me. “The theory is that those with a good sense of balance are aware milliseconds sooner that they’re falling and use primordial instincts to make adjustments and reduce damage from the impact.”
Katz recommends the following: standing on one foot for a count of 10 to 20 seconds a few times a day. You can do it while holding onto a cart while waiting in line at the supermarket. You can also try putting your socks on while standing up. Lean against a bed so if you lose your balance, you’ll land on something soft.