There are 2 ways most people go about managing their health:
- Try to follow generalized guidelines and hope for the best
- Find out what specifically works for them and do that
The obvious trouble with option 1 is that, despite the multi-billion dollar health & fitness industry and decades-long public health campaigns, more people are falling down than ever before. It’s the biggest cause of trauma room visit and death – now even more than car crashes. So if your goal is fall prevention and you follow the herd, you’re doomed to fail.
A variation of this option is to copy what someone else does, and that might work to an extent. But how many times have you tried someone else’s diet or exercise plan, only to find that it doesn’t quite fit your lifestyle, or you simply don’t get the same results? It’s all too easy to get demoralized and give up.
The trouble with option 2 is that it sounds complicated. If you have to find something out, it means that you’ll have to try many things, be prepared to fail, pick yourself up and keep going until you hit on the perfect combination for you. Exhausting!
So back to option 1: remind yourself of the general guidelines on how to prevent a fall or improve your physical balance. It’s common sense, shouldn’t be too hard. So why is it so hard?
The trouble with general guidelines is this:
- They’re general, which means they’re often vague because they’re trying to stay slightly relevant to everybody, no matter their circumstances.
- You’re carrying health baggage that your genes or lifestyle or blind luck has given you, but humans don’t have a factory reset switch to go back and follow the guidelines from scratch.
- They’re based on the fact that doing something good for your health is better than nothing, however, that often neglects our psychological need to see noticeable results that matter to us.
This typically makes us discount the advice we don’t like the sound of, or tell ourselves it doesn’t apply to us (yet).
We see this often when we talk to people about balance. If we ask a large group of people over 65 if they’re worried about falling down this year, only a handful put up their hands. Yet statistics show 28% of them are actually likely to fall. Many will say that fall prevention is important for others, but are often overly optimistic about their own balance and ability.
Maintaining good balance, like maintaining a healthy weight, takes regular doses of helpful actions, while minimizing unhelpful ones. And when people get off track, they need a simple, relevant plan to get them back on track. But to do that, people need something to focus on, and a way of measuring their progress.
For successful weight loss, these are the typical steps people are familiar with:
- Measure where you are now. It might be your actual weight or the fit of your clothes, but you need to know what your baseline is and where you want to get to.
- Look at your eating habits.
- Look at your activity levels
- Make small changes you can sustain to both 2 and 3
- Measure again regularly
These steps seem general, but the key is they are YOUR habits and things YOU can sustain.
For fall prevention, the steps are similar. (While you could wrap yourself in bubble wrap and stay in bed, the real aim should be to strengthen your balance system so you can live a full life on your terms).
- Measure your balance now [a doctor or physical therapist can help, so can a ZIBRIO SmartScale]
- Look at risk factors for falls in your lifestyle [Zibrio has a free tool for this]
- What small changes can you make starting today for your fall risk?
- Measure again regularly
Look over your lifestyle risk factors regularly also, as balance is very responsive to small changes in how you live.
Lifestyle factors affect us all slightly differently. Some people find how much sleep they get has a disproportionate effect on their balance. For others, it might be how often they work on maintaining leg strength, or how they manage anxiety.
Fortunately, advances in machine learning and technology can now provide simple tools to help you succeed.