Balance Exercise For Seniors And The Elderly

Heel To Toe

Balance exercise for seniors and the elderly, like the heel to toe below, can help in maintaining your center of gravity over your ankles. Below I have made a great balance video that is fun and easy to do.

All you need is comfortable loose fitting clothing,  and a pair of smooth bottom shoes to wear so you won’t catch your feet. Read on then give it a try.

Being able to stand or walk with a narrow base of support  is vital in keeping your balance, especially when moving. By narrowing your base of support, we will be challenging your ability to keep your center of gravity over your base of support, which is usually your ankles.

Start by holding on to a counter, a human being ( they call them family members) or even use a cane


This will give you the confidence to practice and focus your attention on the things that matter. This is an excellent balance exercise to perform every day because it is so easy to do and can be incorporated into your regular activities.

Start in the kitchen holding on to a counter. Simply place one foot in front of the other, heel to toe fashion until you run out of counter. Repeat up to 10 times.

And off you go! After you practice the balance exercise for a while, try looking ahead at eye level, without looking down at your feet. I know… it is so tempting to look at your shoes as they travel across the floor.

So let’s get started on our balance exercise! Make sure you get out all those jokes about failing the police sobriety test first! I’ve heard them all.

You will also notice I placed a strip of tape down on the floor. This is used as a visual cue. It helps to know where your feet should go. If you can’t walk on the line directly, simply walk with your feet as close as possible without actually stepping on the line.

Purpose of this exercise

Improves your balance with narrow stance position. Assists your dynamic or “moving” balance.

Step 1

Begin by standing with one foot in front of the other.


Step 2

Step forward placing one foot in line with the other. Continue to step placing right foot in front of left.



Breathe normally, inhale through the nose and exhale out the mouth.


Wear smooth bottom shoes to reduce the chance of  your shoe to catch. Begin practicing in the kitchen holding on to a counter. Try holding on to someones  hand if you are not sure you can do this exercise.

Take it up a notch

Try lifting your chest and looking straight ahead when walking. Use tape on your floor to make a straight line to increase the difficulty.

How to do Heel To Toe

How to do Heel To Toe

More Balance Exercises

1. Single limb stance

  • A great place to begin is with the simplest standing balance exercise. Hold on to a chair and balance on one leg.
  • This is a great place to begin to feel your center of gravity over your ankles. This is your goal, maintaining your center over your ankles.
  • Try a few seconds balancing on each foot. Work up to a minute if you can. Then begin to hold on with one hand, then one finger and finally try to let go completely.

2. Eye tracking

  • Move on to the other exercises with static standing exercises as you gain confidence including this exercise which targets your vision and vestibular system.
  • This exercise can sometimes make you dizzy. If this happens, stop the exercise. Try it again with smaller head movements next time.
  • Gradually you will learn to do it correctly.

3. Clock reach

  • Make sure to hold on to a chair when attempting this exercise to prevent falls in the elderly. Don’t reach back too far if you have pain in your shoulder.
  • (Use your one pound wrist weight here to increase your workout.)

4. Staggered stance

  • Also hold on to a chair when trying this exercise for elderly balance problems. Let go of the chair for a few seconds at a time if you feel comfortable.

5. Single limb with arm

  • Look up from your feet when balancing and pick a spot at eye level in front of you to improve falls in elderly. Lift your chest and bring your shoulders back.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth

6. Balancing wand

  • This is a fun exercise and easy to do. Use a cane, broom or even an umbrella.  Don’t have too much fun with these balance exercises for elderly!

7. Knee marching

  • Try this one next to a counter so you can hold on when performing knee marching. This is also a great cardio exercise and for leg muscle weakness.

8. Body circles

  • This exercise for improving balance can be a little tricky. Keep a chair nearby if you are uncomfortable without one.  Make sure your knees and hips are kept straight when you circle.

9. Heel to toe

  • The moving exercises are the most difficult. Only try this balance exercise when you have become good at the preceding exercises.
  • (If you have masking or painters tape, place an 8 to 12 foot piece in a straight line on the carpet or floor. This will allow you to maintain a straighter line when performing the walking exercises.)

10. Grapevine

  • Seniors who dance will be more familiar with these balance exercises. Try it in your kitchen holding on to the counter.
  • Walk several steps in one direction, turn around and walk back. Continue for several minutes. Gradually hold on less and less until you can take a few steps without holding on.
  • It may take a while, but keep practicing…you’ll get it sooner or later!

11. Stepping

  • This series of stepping exercises are very challenging. You may have a stable family member demonstrate these for you first.

12. Dynamic walking

  • Try these only when you feel confident and have a helper in the home.
  • Give them a try when you are stronger and more sure of yourself. These exercises are great to do with someone else.
  • Holding hands with a stable family member will make these exercises easier and safer. (This is where you may use your pad of paper or a small book when walking.)

Resources Prevent Falls