Why do we lose balance as we age?

Craig S. Kimmel, MD
Sports Medicine
As we age, we gradually start to lose our ability to balance because we lose muscle strength, vision and sensory perception. These are all things that contribute to our ability to balance, and losing them puts us at increased risk for falls. Indeed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every three adults 65 or older falls each year. You can avoid becoming a statistic by doing exercises to improve your balance.

Balance is at the core of all physical movement. A good sense of balance can help you avoid injury, improve your athletic performance and, if you are an older adult, maintain your independence.
 
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There are two reasons: 
  1. The balance mechanism in the ear is not as functional.
  2. We are not as strong so our muscle and their proprioception does not offer the proper feedback to the brain. 
Exercises do help. The better in-shape you are the better your balance will be. In addition, specific balance exercises will fine tune your proprioceptive system and vestibular system in the inner ear.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
We become more vulnerable to falls as we age because we lose balance as we age. How? The semicircular canals in our ears are filled with thick viscous fluid with tiny stones floating about. When you turn, these stones slowly move, and nerves in your ears sense this action. However, if the stones have become osteoporotic or the nerve impulses are erratic, the brain cannot rapidly process these clues to movement, and you feel dizzy.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.