Best Balance Exercises for Seniors
We’ve all had clumsy moments when we missed a step or tripped over uneven terrain. In our younger years, we didn’t worry too much about losing our balance or falling down. But as we get older, the risk of falling is a greater concern. The systems we rely on to stay balanced and prevent falls — such as quick reflexes, depth perception, muscle strength, and flexibility — become less effective as we age, which increases the risk of falling.
Falls can be a significant cause of disability for older adults. Every year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries, and about 300,000 are hospitalized for hip fractures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But falls are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, preventing falls and remaining confident in your ability to move can be part of your daily routine. And it’s easier to maintain mobility when you reside in an independent living community where wellness programs promote a healthy lifestyle, including balance exercises for seniors.
Improve Your Balance and Prevent Falls
Strength and stability are the keys to maintaining balance at any age. An exercise routine that combines strength training and balance exercises can help maintain muscle mass and strong bones to keep you steady on your feet for a lifetime. You can do simple exercises to improve your balance from the comfort of your living room, or join an exercise class to add some fun and connect with others.
The following exercises can help you work on your balance. Start slow and easy, then work toward longer hold times and more repetitions. Modify the exercises as needed for your comfort level, and stop if you experience pain. If you have a health condition or limitations that make it difficult to exercise, talk to your doctor about safe ways to exercise. Everyone’s health and strength are different!
- Stand tall: Stand with your feet pressed evenly into the floor and bend your knees slightly. Keep your head high, with your shoulders relaxed and in alignment with your hips and heels. Try this pose in front of a mirror to check your posture. Once you feel balanced, try closing your eyes for 10 seconds or longer. Hold on to a counter or chair for stability, if needed.
- Foot taps: Stand with your feet hip-width apart in front of a low piece of furniture, such as a step stool. Hold on to the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Raise one foot to tap the step in front of you, then slowly lower it to the floor. Try 20 foot taps on one leg and then switch to the opposite leg.
- Heel-to-toe walk: Put your left foot in front of the right so they touch heel to toe. Put weight first to the heel of the front foot, then to the toes. Repeat with your right foot and so on while moving forward. Try to take 20 steps in this fashion.
- Standing marches: Hold on to a counter or sturdy chair with one hand, stand up straight, and lift one knee up until the thigh is parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as possible). Alternate legs, lifting and lowering 20 times.
- Sit-to-stand: Sit and scoot your hips to the edge of your chair. Bring your toes back so they’re lined up under your knees and stand up. You can use your arms to push up off the chair. To sit down, bend a little at your knees first. This pushes your hips toward the chair, allowing you to lower your body to the seat. Pause and repeat 10 times.
- Toe lifts: Stand up straight and keep your arms out in front of you, either placed on a counter or holding on to a chair back. Slowly raise up on your toes as high as you can, then gently lower back down to flat feet. Try not to lean forward as you raise up and down. Your goal is 20 times.
- Flamingo stand: For this exercise, hold on to a chair to help maintain balance, if needed. Shift your weight onto your right leg. Lift your left foot and extend your leg forward. Hold the position for 10-15 seconds, and then return to standing. Repeat 3 times, then try the opposite side.
Maintain Optimum Health with Blakehurst
Blakehurst offers a robust senior wellness program focused on helping you remain independent longer by improving your strength and balance. If you’d like to learn more about living here and how to take advantage of our HealthyLife® Services program, feel free to reach out to us today!