Balance Exercises for Seniors
As people age, it’s nearly inevitable that they will begin to experience mobility issues. It becomes more difficult to get in and out of the shower, bend over to pick up something off the floor, or climb up and down the stairs. These are all activities that can lead to falls and serious injuries.
However, if you improve your balance with proper exercises then you can prevent falls, injury, and continue to live life on your own terms. In this article, we will be looking at balance exercises for seniors.
Balance Exercises: What They Are and Why They Are Important
When people think of balance exercises, they usually picture people doing handstands and difficult yoga poses. Yet, balance exercises can be very simple and easy to do, and get progressively harder as you go, if you choose to try more strenuous activities.
Balance exercises are defined as a form of training that strengthens the muscles that are responsible for keeping the body upright. These muscle groups are mostly the core and legs. It is very important to do them because they can help to prevent falls.
A study published in Science Direct titled Balance in the Elderly found that “Balance disorders manifest in poor performances in standing, leaning, stepping, walking, responding to an external perturbation and tasks of mobility and transfer. There is good evidence that appropriate exercise can improve balance and reduce falls in older people.”
Balancing exercises also help keep the joints in the body lubricated by warming up the synovial fluid. Keeping joints active and lubricated can help prevent injuries when you are doing your day-to-day activities.
By participating in balance exercises, you can help significantly reduce your chances of falling and suffering serious injuries. There are a lot of different exercises that you can do to improve your balance, too.
5 Easy Balance Exercises for Seniors
There are many exercises that you can do to help improve your balance and coordination, but you want to make sure you’re doing exercises that are appropriate for your body and your needs, and that you’re doing them properly, too.
Some precautions you should take when doing balancing exercises is to make sure that there are no sharp objects lying around. If you are not using objects like a table or chair for assistance, you should make sure that they are a safe distance away from you. The ground should also be clear of anything you could trip on.
With that said, let’s take a look at the different types of balance exercises for seniors that you can do at home.
Standing on One Foot
This is one of the easiest balance exercises to do at home. Put your weight on one leg and then slowly lift the other off the ground, to the side, or to the front. If you need to, you can do this by standing by a chair or counter and use your hand to help you with balancing.
Try to keep your balance for 30 seconds to one minute. This exercise helps to build core and leg muscle while making your brain more active when trying to balance.
To do this exercise, walk like you would if you were on a tightrope. Put your heel right in front of your toes and then step your other foot around and do the same thing. Try to walk 20 feet and then turn around and walk back.
If you feel like you are going to lose your balance, simply step out of the walk and then start again where you left off. This exercise helps to activate your brain to be more reactive when you start to lose your balance so that you do not fall.
Getting Into and Out of a Chair
Grab a sturdy chair for this exercise and move it away from other furniture. The goal is to be able to sit down and then get out of the chair without using arm rests or the table to help you get up. You can do this by using your hands on your knees to get up. If you do need to use something else to help you get in and out of the chair you can, however, activate your legs and core and try to mostly use these body parts.
Get into and out of the chair ten times. This exercise strengthens your core muscles and leg muscles which keep you on your feet.
Standing on Your Tiptoes
You can use the back of a chair to help with this exercise. Stand behind the chair and then slowly rise onto the tips of your toes. Hold here for ten seconds and then lower back down onto your heels. Do this ten times.
This exercise will help to strengthen your calves and ankles.
Another great way to practice your balance is by doing the yoga pose called Eagle Pose. To do this you balance on one foot while wrapping the other leg around the one you are balancing on. The easier version and best for beginners is to balance on one foot and then cross your other foot over the ankle or thigh. Do not let it touch the ground. You can also cross your arms and have your hands touch your shoulders like you are giving yourself a hug.
This pose is great not only for balance but for strengthening your calves and ankles and is great for sciatica and lower back pain.
These five options are great beginner balance exercises for seniors. Practicing them even a couple days a week is a great way to start getting active and incorporating them into your routine.