Exercises to Increase Balance for Seniors
Balance exercises improve coordination and stability throughout the body. They’re helpful at any age, but it is imperative for seniors to focus on these activities.
When there is more strength in the muscle sets that provide balance, it’s more likely that someone will stay upright. That means seniors can spend more time walking, climbing stairs, cycling, or dancing without worrying as much about the risk of falls.
As people age, the risk of an accident involving falls or slips increases. Having a daily regimen that encourages balance improvement can help to ensure a person’s quality of life doesn’t decline as much as the years pass.
It’s never too late to get started! Although it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor first about adding any new exercises to your daily routine, the following activities can help to increase balance for seniors.
Exercise #1: Single Leg Balance
This simple exercise does an excellent job of improving individual balance and strength. It is often helpful to hold onto a chair when you’re first starting the journey to getting stronger.
Here are the steps to follow to complete this exercise successfully.
1. Stand with your feet about a shoulder-width apart. If that’s too far, get them wide enough to give yourself a stable base.
2. Extend your arms out to your sides. This action will give you more balance for the next step.
3. Slowly lift your left knee up so that your foot is off the floor.
4. Straighten the leg to have it in front of you.
5. Hold that position for 30 seconds before relaxing. Repeat with the other leg, and try to do three sets on each side.
Exercise #2: Tree Pose for Balance
This exercise is a popular yoga move. It’s helpful to keep a chair or another brace available to prevent a fall, especially if you’re trying it for the first time or trying to bring your leg higher.
Here are the steps to follow for completing this exercise successfully.
1. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Keep one hand on your chest and the other on a chair if you need help with your balance. If you feel comfortable with this exercise, rest both hands on your chest.
2. Raise your left leg straight up, turning your foot inward during this motion.
3. Gently rest the sole of your left foot against the side of your lower calf. Your toes should be right above your ankle.
4. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds. You can go longer if you want.
5. Do the same for the other leg. Try to repeat this exercise four times during your session.
If it feels too easy to hold the position with your foot on the opposite calf, try to bring the leg in the air higher. It can also rest near the knee or on the thigh as your strength improves.
When you hold the tree pose for longer than 30 seconds on one side, try to hold it for the same time on the other. That way, you’ll have equalized strength building for your balance instead of focusing on one side.
Exercise #3: Lunges for Balance
When people lose their balance while walking, they typically take a step forward or backward to regain it. That “catch” is what keeps you upright, preventing a more severe injury.
If you incorporate lunges into your exercise routine, you’ll work on maintaining or improving this natural ability.
Here is the correct way to use lunges for your balance improvement needs.
1. Stand up straight, keeping your hands on your hips.
2. Step with the left foot forward, bending at the knees during this motion.
3. Continue to lower yourself toward the floor until your right thigh parallels the surface below.
4. Remember to breathe.
5. Hold the position for 30 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position.
6. Repeat this process for the right leg.
Try to get at least five repetitions finished for each leg. If you can do more, going up to ten times on each side can build strength.
Exercise #4: Balance Beam Walk for Balance
Do you remember walking on a curb when you were little to test your balance? Perhaps you still do occasionally?
You can replicate this activity in a safer environment when balance issues are present. Place a line of tape on the floor, keeping it as straight as possible.
If you want, you can even use the lines on your flooring tiles or hardwood floors. Once you have a direction to follow, here are the steps to take to complete this exercise successfully.
1. Pick your start and end points.
2. Extend your arms out to your sides as if you’re on a tightrope. Walk slowly, carefully keeping your feet on the line at all times.
3. Walk using the heel-to-toe method, holding each position for at least five seconds before continuing.
Exercise #5: Heel Raises for Balance
Heel raises do a great job of building strength in your calves while promoting a stronger lower body. They can also be done almost anywhere, which means you can do them whenever you feel like getting stronger.
Here are the steps to follow to complete a successful heel raise.
1. Stand up tall.
2. Slowly, start lifting your heels as you move your weight to the balls of your feet.
3. Start with a slight lift to gauge your balance and strength. Move higher as your body is willing.
4. Return your heels to the floor at the same speed.
A Final Thought to Consider on Exercising for Balance
Balance exercises are certainly essential for older adults, but they must be completed carefully. Even if you have confidence in your abilities, it helps to have a stabilization mechanism or object nearby.
If you’re just starting, it helps to take plenty of breaks. Don’t try to do everything all at once! Should any concerns arise during your workout sessions or pain develop, speak with your doctor before continuing with these efforts.
The key to fighting balance problems is always address the nerve. Neuropathy like many other conditions continues to destroy these nerves that control movement and feeling. Once a person loses movement and feeling, the neuropathy has now won. The key is early detection and treatment like all other health conditions.