We take many aspects of life for granted, such as the ability to balance. Healthy habits are important for maintaining many everyday activities such as walking on an uneven sidewalk, stepping off a curb to cross the street, or getting out of bed without falling over. Let’s look at how all the amazing parts of our body work together for perfect balance, and pick up some healthy living tips to keep it that way.
Balance is defined as the “ability to maintain the body’s center of mass over its base of support.” We need perfect balance to stand upright, see clearly as we move around, and live a normal healthy life.
Lack of balance is shown by a range of symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and the inability to walk steadily in a straight line. These can cause nausea, feelings of disorientation, and problems with sight, hearing, concentrating and remembering things. It takes a combination of systems all working synergistically together to maintain balance.
- Muscles, bones and joints that provide motor control. Movements and postural adjustments that help us stay balanced are driven by the brain through sensory receptors and motor impulses. Information from the joints and body relay information to the brain.
- Vision to provide sensory input through sight, giving a sense of distance and proportion. Rods and cones in the retina provide fine detail and visual information about how the body is orientated in relation to other objects.
- The inner ear contains semicircular canals filled with fluid that detect turning movements. It sends sensory information to the brain to make compensatory adjustments to the rest of the body
- Nerves are used to detect changes in the body as we move around. For example, pressure on the front soles of the feet tells the brain that you are leaning forward. Movement in the neck tells the brain which way you are looking. All these allow the brain to make fine adjustments so that the body remains upright and balanced through an ongoing series of large and small movements.
Healthy Living Tips to Support Balance
Fortunately, all these activities go on subconsciously or proprioceptively, allowing us to think, move and get on with life while the body and brain control the task of keeping us upright and safe.
As balance requires a coordinated combination of several systems, if one component ceases to function correctly, it is likely to affect our balance. Disease, injury or aging can affect sight, muscles, joints, the nervous system and the brain, resulting in imbalance.
Balance also depends on other more subtle factors. Make sure to get enough sleep, as being tired can affect your balance. Side effects of prescription drugs can dizziness and a feeling of being imbalanced and off-center. Having a clear mind also helps with balance, therefore stress can impact your ability to remain balanced. Hatha yoga is one of the best ways to safely and naturally improve your ability to be balanced.
By taking care of the body holistically, we can support the interaction of different components that allow us to balance. Healthy habits include taking supplements that support vision, active cognitive function and supple joints and bones. If just one part of the whole becomes incapacitated, your balance is likely to suffer as a result.