Playing Catch Can Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

Playing Catch Can Improve Balance and Prevent Falls The simple training exercise of catching a weighted medicine ball can improve balance and may help prevent falls in the elderly, according to research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. When someone is jostled by a bump or a stumble, the brain uses two strategies to maintain balance and prevent a fall, says Alexander Aruin, professor of physical therapy at UIC and principal investigator on the two studies. ‰ÛÏYou brace yourself,‰Û AruinåÊsaid. The brain activates muscles in anticipation of the jolt. The second strategy is corrective ‰ÛÓ the brain engages musclesåÊ to prevent us from losing our balance. As we age, we lose our ability to ready ourselves to maintain balance. Aruin and his colleagues asked a group of healthy young adults to stand and catch a medicine ball. In the second study, they asked the same ofåÊa group of healthy older adults. The researchers measured the electrical activity of leg and trunk muscles to look for differences in the two age groups‰Ûª ability to generate postural adjustments both before and after the single short training session. Training-related improvements were seen in both groups.åÊIn older adults, the researchers found that not only can they improve, but they also improve at performing a task that was not part of the training. ‰ÛÏIt seems that most people have very positive memories associated with playing catch,‰Û he said. – See more at: