RESVERATROL UPDATE: Red wine compound could help seniors walk away from mobility problems. “To determine its effects on balance and mobility, Cavanaugh, Erika N. Allen and colleagues fed young and old laboratory mice a diet containing resveratrol for eight weeks. They periodically tested the rodents’ ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam, counting the number of times that each mouse took a misstep. Initially, the older mice had more difficulty maneuvering on the obstacle. But by week four, the older mice made far fewer missteps and were on par with the young mice.” Hope this pans out.

Meanwhile, balance responds to practice. A few years ago, I felt that I hadn’t kept up my balance enough and started doing things to improve it, like squats and shoulder presses while standing on a bosu (like a half-ball). I could almost literally (hey, maybe it really was literally) feel the neural networks firing up, and the improvement was rapid and dramatic. Now I do it every once in a while, just to stay tuned up. It makes an amazing difference. When you’re a kid, you do this stuff all the time (or at least did, in the pre-videogame era). Adults, on the other hand, tend to run their lives so as to avoid having to call on balance skills, which is probably good practice in general but leads to atrophy. And the older and more afraid of falling people become, I suspect, the more that is true. Use it or lose it, here as everywhere else.