Balance refers to our ability to maintain our stability (equilibrium) while either remaining stationary (static balance) or while moving (dynamic balance). We often take balance for granted until we start to lose it. Keeping our balance requires us to rely on different sensory systems like our vision, hearing and the sensory receptors in our skin, muscles, joints and tendons. These systems send signals to our brain, which processes them and then send commands back to your body helping us adjust our position and maintain balance.

Your balance may become compromised from surgery, changes in your vision, loss of muscle strength and reactions to certain medications which can cause nerve damage known as neuropathy. Balance can also diminish naturally as well due to your sensory systems becoming less sensitive as you age. The good news is you can maintain and increase your stability by incorporating balance training, also called neuromotor exercise, into your regular exercise routine.

ACSM/ACS Cancer Recommended Guidelines:

 

Frequency

2-3 times per week, but may be done daily

Intensity

low intensity, choosing gentle exercises

Time

start with a few minutes, gradually building to 20 minutes

Type

should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait) like tai chi or gentle yoga

 

Special Considerations

  • Ask your doctor if any of your medications will affect your balance and what you can do to counter balance the effects.
  • Wear appropriate shoes when exercises and make sure the area is clear of any obstacles.
  • Use a counter, chair or table to steady yourself while performing your exercises.
  • Ask your doctor for guidance if you are experiencing neuropathy.
  • Make sure you have eaten and are well hydrated.

Self Assessment

Find an area where there is support nearby, such as a counter, heavy chair or table. Make sure the surrounding area is clear of obstacles.

  1. Place you hands for support; lift one foot off the floor by bringing your heel up behind you.
  2. Shift all you weight to your support leg.
  3. Remove your hands from your support.
  4. Count how long you can hold your balance.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Record your times on your Fitness Assessment Results sheet.