Senior man on iBalance balance training equipment by HUR USA

Physical activity for seniors is critical for healthy aging.

 

Research has confirmed what we already knew—exercise is important. Really important. Even more important for older adults.

 

A physically active life helps retain functional balance and is an integral part of health-related quality of life. The Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, reported that seniors should get their heart rate pumping at least a little bit every day. The total weekly amount of “moderate to vigorous” activity should be at least 150 minutes. This time should then be broken down into at least 10 minute sections. All this, coming from not just evidence-based research, but also what most of us could probably guess.

 

The Problem

When a large portion of the community struggles with the effects of aging, physical activity becomes an even greater necessity to maintain quality of life. When residents are engaging in strength training and weight-bearing exercises, they’re able maintain, or even improve, bone density, balance, and strength. This ensures the least risk for potential falls and fractures from falls.

 

Unfortunately, there’s a pebble in that shiny shoe…

 

When individuals are worried about falling, or that their balance isn’t what it used to be, guess what? They begin to avoid activity. This lowers their regular physical exertion level and leads to increasingly sedentary behavior. Then this, of course, makes the problem even worse. Instead of needing some assistance with a cane or walker, now they risk greater medical issues. Individuals begin to suffer from incontinence, poor hygiene, and pressure ulcers. This increases stress on staff and slowly deteriorates the independence of once vibrant individuals. This is not healthy aging and it happens far too often.

 

As community centers are increasingly taking center stage to encourage vitality amongst their members, directors and administrators have a key opportunity. There’s real potential in this common scenario, to improve the life of the community members, all while reducing costs for staff and medical services.

 

One of the greatest tools to reduce falls and improve quality of life is just one aspect of exercise— Balance Training.

 

The Balanced Solution

Balance is at the very core of our ability to function and move independently. It’s a multi-joint, task-specific skill, that involves many physiological sensory systems, all interacting synchronously. When part of an individual’s physical activity is targeted to balance training, the benefits are exponential. Balance training:

 

 

  • Has short term benefits.
  • Has long term benefits.
  • Benefits the life long habits of the individual.
  • Benefits the community around the individual.

 

It’s pretty incredible.

 

 

Balance training interventions for people with osteoporosis that are progressive, and focus on multi-task and dual training, have demonstrated improvements in:

 

  • Fall-related concerns-This means individuals aren’t as reluctant to keep their daily level of activity.
  • Gait speed-This means greater confidence in movement, smoother execution of steps, and greater joint mobility and flexibility.
  • Balance performance-This means less falls and fractures related to falls.
  • Physical function-This means daily movements, chores, social activities, and the like, are just done better.

If this were a pill, everyone over 65 would be taking it.

The Research

SHORT TERM BENEFITS

A study, put out by the Journal of Advanced Research, looked at older adults with osteoarthritis for 6 weeks. The researchers wanted to see the effects of balance training in comparison to traditional exercises for functional improvements.

What their data showed is that for study participants that underwent traditional exercises, those individuals noted:

 

    • Reduced functional disability
    • Less perceived pain
    • Better proprioceptive acuity

 

That’s great! Yay exercise.

 

However…

 

The group that had sensorimotor training with traditional exercise, did much better. They had much more:

 

 

  • Reduced functional disability
  • Less perceived pain
  • Better proprioceptive acuity

 

 

AND “statistically significant improvements” in all the balance measures:

 

 

  • Overall stability index
  • Medial/lateral stability index
  • Anterior/posterior stability index

 

In other words, they not only did a heck of a lot better with their pain and disabilities, but they also had much better balance. That’s even better! Yay balance training!

 

-Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.
LONG TERM BENEFITS

The Journal of Physiology in 2015, saw this earlier research, but didn’t think it went far enough. They chose to conduct a study that extended far beyond 6 weeks, and into 15 months. Participants were all seniors that had osteoarthritis and a high risk of falling.

 

Researchers followed up on the participants throughout the 15 months. They found that after 3 months of being in balance training program, the seniors had:

 

 

  • Improved walking ability
  • Significantly less fear of falling
  • Greater ability to quickly step in a cognitive dual-task condition

 

As they predicted, around 6-9 months the positive effects began to diminish. They suggest periodic balance training as a remedy. At 15 months while the training groups mostly returned to baseline levels, walking speed was still better and they hypothesized, “may positively influence long-term survival rates.” Yay long-term survival rates!

 

HUR

HUR understands healthy aging is an important part of life. Afterall, Strong is Ageless. The entire business model, and line of senior-specific equipment, is all built around this premise.

 

Their revolutionary SmartTouch Technology, is giving independence back to seniors and taking pressure off staff and reducing facility costs at the same time. Users are able to register their details and have their customized exercise program, track automatically. It allows for accessible, non-intimidating use for seniors to measure their own improvement.

 

 

This is where it gets exciting.

 

HUR equipment, that uses this SmartTouch Technology, eliminates the issue of long term effects dropping off past the 6 month mark. HUR knows that maintaining health programs can be a motivational challenge. They designed their machinery to gradually increase weight resistance so that users don’t ever plateau. This means they continuously gain strength and the problem of diminishing positives is eliminated.

 

For fall prevention specifically, the iBalance platform is HUR’s crowning jewel. First, it assesses balance and determines the level of fall risk, and then implements a customized program for that person. Settings can be adjusted to allow for steady improvements, and it’s wheelchair accessible. Users get to enjoy an engaging, fun, and interactive stabilization game, that builds core strength and muscle memory. It helps motivated seniors to reach their goals, improve their balance, posture, and coordination—long term.

 

No other equipment on the market offers this.

 

HUR wants to help keep your residents confident in themselves and inspired to stay healthy and balanced. Say goodbye to falls, this is The New Age of Balance.