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Improve Your Balance, Improve Your Brain Health

Balance Can Improve Your Brain Function

While phone apps and online programs that exercise the brain are popular to improve memory and prevent dementia, most people overlook a key component to lasting brain function--your balance. Your brain requires good balance to stay sharp and lower the risk of dementia. In addition to doing brain exercises, make sure you regularly challenge and improve your balance.

What does good balance have to do with preserving memory and brain function?

The cerebellum, the area at the base of the brain, governs balance as well as precision, coordination, and timing. It makes sure you can walk upright, put a spoon to your mouth, or hit a tennis ball. The movements of daily life keep the cerebellum in a constant state of activity. This constant activity keeps the rest of the brain on its toes. 

A  healthy cerebellum feeds the brain a steady stream of information to keep it actively firing and healthy. This is also one reason regular physical activity is so vital to brain health and function.

Bad Balance = Bad Brain Function

This explains why symptoms of cerebellum degeneration, such as bad balance, often coincide with the loss of memory, cognition, and brain endurance. The brain isn’t getting enough juice from the cerebellum to keep it charged and running well.

If a different area of the cerebellum degenerates, this can overwhelm the brain with information.

The outer area of the cerebellum serves as a gatekeeper, regulating information that travels from the body to the brain. When this area of the cerebellum degenerates, the gates are left unguarded and too much sensory input floods the brain. Symptoms may include restless leg syndrome, tinnitus, hypersensitivity to stress, depression, fatigue, anxiety, and others symptoms.

Can You Pass the Balance Test?

  • Do you wobble if you stand on one foot? How about with your eyes closed?
  • If you walk in a straight heel-to-toe line do you stumble? How about with your eyes closed?
  • If you stand with your feet together and close your eyes do you sway to one side?
  • Do you walk with a wide gait, or feel like you’re going to fall if you don’t hold the handrail going down the stairs?

If you answered yes to any of these questions,  your balance issues could be a sign of compromised brain health and an increased risk of dementia later in life.

Improve Your Balance, Improve Your Brain Health

Since we know regular exercise is a MUST to preserve brain function, look for exercises that emphasize balance. Ideas include specific balance exercises, yoga, Tai Chi, stand-up paddleboarding, dancing, and the use of a wobble board or Bosu ball. Just be safe and work within your limits!

Balance and the Brain Puzzle

Good cerebellum health is important, but it’s not the only consideration when it comes to attaining balance. The inner ear, or vestibular system, also plays a vital role in balance and may need attention if your balance is off.

Also, screening for gluten sensitivity is important, as gluten intolerance degenerates the cerebellum in many people. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet and reduce stressors. The brain and cerebellum are very sensitive to inflammation from junk foods, sleep deprivation, chronic stress, and more. And make sure you keep your blood sugar stable — blood sugar that is constantly too low or too high (or both) rapidly ages the brain and contributes to poor balance.

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