Falling isn't just a fear for people 65 and older. It's a serious health concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. That's why the East Texas Medical Center’s Olympic Center started Body Balance.
Diane Martin ranks staying active as one of her top priorities, but as she's gotten older, her balance has deteriorated.
"I had fallen over my dog twice” Ms. Martin said. “I try to concentrate at night walking across a dark room and when I turn around to go the other way, I try to remember to look behind me because she is usually right there."
Instead of letting her balance go, Ms. Martin decided to try Body Balance at ETMC's Olympic Center.
"The best money I spend each month is coming here," she said.
"We know that exercise can help prevent falls,” said Cassie Ebert, an ETMC Olympic Center exercise specialist.
“So we decided this is something we need at the Olympic Center to help our senior adults or anybody who has balance problems to prevent injuries.”
Ms. Ebert leads the class. She says the Body Balance class is low impact but works you out head to toe.
"It's a total body because a lot of our posture issues come from our shoulders and upper back and chest area, and so we start with exercising up here," she said.
They also work the major muscles in their lower body to help them with standing and sitting.
"A lot of falls come from trips and sitting down trying to get to a lower position and they bend their body forward because their legs are too weak," Ms. Ebert said.
Ms. Martin added, "We learn to concentrate on the triangle on our foot which is — the base of the triangle is your little toe and big toe and the point is your heel. We try to remember to keep your weight evenly distributed.
For the students’ safety, Ms. Ebert doesn't choreograph the class.
"I won't even have music on because I want everybody to really focus on their body and how their body is moving," she said.
"I thought I was in pretty good shape, until I started with Cassie, and then I realized there is a lot to learn about good balance," Ms. Martin said.
She is hoping weekly body balance sessions will prevent her from tripping and a trip to the hospital.
The class is only 30 minutes long. If you're using a cane or a walker, Ms. Ebert can vary the balance exercises to work for you. The Body Balance class is now one of the Olympic Center's most highly attended classes. It's taught twice a week at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.