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Does physical activity lead to better balance?

Nordic walkers

The Multimetric Balance Mat was put through its paces by Nordic walkers in Canberra this week.

After their hour-long walk, the group of 20 people repaired to a café on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin where Balance Mat Managing Director Ian Bergman tested their balance.
Multimetric Balance MatThe Multimetric Balance Mat tests balance ability in four different stances: normal, tandem and right and left leg stances; and gives a graph and score for each of these positions. The tandem (heel-to-toe) stance is  particularly important since it tests lateral postural stability by narrowing the base of support. Mr Bergman said, “This testing in Canberra forms part of our long-term program to measure the balance of seniors who are actively engaged in fitness programs.

“People often think that poor balance is a natural consequence of ageing, but the testing we’ve done so far would suggest that is not the case. This became clear to us when hundreds of people at various seniors events recorded scores of close to zero on the Balance Mat.

“Only 15% of the 500 people we tested had poor balance, with the remaining 85% being physically fit. We therefore believe that one of the main causes of poor balance is simple deterioration in physical fitness.”
The results of balance testing from the past eighteen months with Nordic Walking, Healthy Heart and similar seniors fitness activities run by the Council on the Ageing (COTA) ACT have been fed into the Balance Mat score information system. “What we plan to do now is track people’s balance over time to measure the correlation between physical activity and better balance,” Mr Bergman said.

In the coming months Balance Mat Pty Ltd will continue this data accumulation process with the ultimate aims of confirming the parameters for mean and standard deviations and creating a normative database for good, fair and poor balance.