Find your balance

Tips for staying upright into old age

Falling may be one of the most serious medical problems facing older people, but you’re never too young to work on your balance. In fact, at 30 years old, the muscles that help us stand tall gradually weaken, length of stride shortens and vision becomes fuzzier. Aging isn’t the only reason people become less steady, however—balance is use it or lose it. Here are some ways to maintain equilibrium:

Stand on one leg: Do it for 30 seconds while, say, washing dishes, then switch legs. Stand on a couch cushion to up the difficulty.

Walk heel to toe: This is a common sobriety test used by police, and for good reason—it’s hard.

Do squats: Sturdy legs can prevent a stumble from becoming a fall.

Practice tai chi or yoga: Older people who take such classes tend to have greater ankle flexibility and confidence in walking, research shows.