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Take a deep breath and find your balance

  • Take a deep breath and find your balance

  • 09 February 2023

  • 5.30PM - 6.30PM

  • On campus

  • Book now

If we lived to be 200 years old we would all develop lung disease. In people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) the natural process of aging is accelerated meaning lung function declines at a faster rate and symptoms of breathlessness become prominent. Most of us can recall a time when we have felt out of breath, perhaps during a bad cold or after strenuous exercise. People with COPD feel acutely breathless during everyday activities such as climbing the stairs and dressing. Another consequence of getting older is that we become more prone to falls. A third of healthy adults aged 65 years and older will fall at least once a year and this increases four-fold in people who have COPD because they have worse balance.

In this lecture I will explain why balance is worse in people with COPD, considering not only the physical reasons (e.g. muscle weakness) but also the social and environmental factors that are particularly relevant when living in an area of the UK with high levels of social deprivation. I will present evidence that balance-specific training, delivered alongside an existing health service, is beneficial at improving balance in people with COPD and reducing falls risk. Finally, I will consider how balance training in the future might be aligned with functional activities that are socially and culturally relevant, such as dance and walking football.

Aging is inevitable, it just happens quicker in people with COPD, and we can all benefit from balance training. You might recall a news article published in 2022 quoting a study that found people who could not stand on one leg for 10 seconds were twice as likely to die in the next 10 years. By training balance, we are training our brain and other systems that means we stand a better chance at living longer, maybe not until we are 200 years old, but a longer and healthier life.

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