What’s the “dual tasking” approach to balance improvement, and why does it work so well?

dual tasking approach to balance

The foundation of Nymbl Science is years of clinical research into the science of balance by Dr JP Farcy.  He determined that balance can be improved through physical exercises (such as one legged stands) as well as cognitive exercises (such as solving math problems or learning  new language). But when you combine the two simultaneously, called “dual-tasking“, you get an accelerated effect.

This is because doing two things at once stimulates the brain to actually rebuild synapses in the brain. In order to maintain the posture, and concentrate on answering questions, requires opening as many synapses as possible to cope with the extra work. This is a well-known process called “neuro-plasticity”.

You can see examples of this in daily life. Often, if an older adult is walking and you ask them a question, they will stop. The brain has trouble walking and problem solving at the same time, because many of the balance and stride neurons have gotten “lazy” – the cognitive bandwidth has declined. After a few weeks of balance training, there is often a significant improvement.

In the Nymbl Training and Nymbl Class Apps, we accomplish dual tasking by providing isometric exercises with mental challenges on the iPhone’s screen.  In fact, because the app can simultaneously recommend isometric & cognitive exercises, time them, AND measure how well you’re doing (using the built in accelerometer), we are able to bring advance clinical tools and techniques to anyone with a smartphone – which pretty soon will literally be everyone!

We’ve put together additional answers to questions about balance on our Balance FAQ page.