Balance Exercises for Seniors

Balance exercises for seniors can help prevent falls by improving the ability to control and maintain the position of your body in space. Falls are a serious health risk for older adults. Including a good program with balance exercises will help reduce the chance of falls.

You can do balance exercises just about anytime of the day, and anywhere you find yourself. They are best when performed regularly as long as you have a chair or other sturdy structure nearby in case you become unsteady.

  1. Single Leg Stance
  2. Tandem Stance
  3. Heel life Toe lift
  4. Leg Swing
Watch my instructional video

The number one performed balance exercise is the single leg stand. It is important to have a chair to hold on to during these exercises for safety. If you can’t stand safely on one foot, then simply bring your feet together to start. The tandem stance is another wonderful balance exercise because we are narrowing our stance which increases the balance challenge. The heel and toe lift can be challenging and requires holding on to the chair. The leg swing is a fun and effective exercise for balance. We are actually fighting to maintain our torso erect while using the leg to disturb our center of gravity.

Exercise 1

Single Leg Stance Begin by standing at the side of your chair with your feet close together. Holding on to the chair, lift one foot off the ground and balance on the other. Look straight ahead and focus on a spot on the wall. This will help balance. Try to hold for 20 seconds on each leg. For more of a challenge, hold on with only one finger or no fingers at all.

Exercise 2

Tandem Stance. Begin standing at side of your chair with feet about hip width apart. Chest is lifted, chin is up. Step out with your dominant foot a comfortable step forward. Bring your torso about half way between both feet. At this point you can begin to balance. If you can, lighten up or release your grip on the chair and hover your hand over backrest. Think about how your feet the ground. Your feet and your eyes are doing the balance work in this exercise. Try to maintain your torso in a middle position, eyes level and looking at a spot on the far wall. Hold this position for 20 -60 seconds. For a greater challenge, look around the room while balancing.

Exercise 3

Heel and Toe lift Begin by standing at the side of your chair with your feet about hip width apart. Rise up onto your toes slowly, pause, then return to feet flat on the floor. Next lift up your toes and stand on your heels, pause and return to flat feet. Repeat for one minute.

Exercise 4

Single Leg Swing. Stand to one side of your chair, feet hip width apart, holding on the the backrest. Begin with your outside leg. Swing this leg backward and forward while balancing on the inside leg. Move in a controlled manner without kicking or whipping the leg. Make sure ribs and lifted, chin is up, look ahead at eye level at a spot on the wall. Continue for one minute. Switch sides of the chair and repeat on the other leg making one cycle. Perform 3 cycles.

Always think safety first when performing balance exercises. We need balance exercises to reduce the risk of falls, but the same exercises can result in a fall. If you are even a little bit worried about falling, make sure a family member is nearby to assist. Use a chair or counter for support. Even better is to have a wall behind just for safety also. Begin all the exercise by holding on to your chair or counter. Only advance to holding on with one finger or no fingers if you have improved enough to do so.

Balance exercises for seniors will be more effective if you are consistent with your schedule. The more you practice, the better the results will be. At a minimum I would practice balance at least twice a week for 20 to 30 minutes. This would also include leg strengthening, posture and core exercises to go along with the purely balance exercises.

Modify the balance exercises by starting securely and safely holding on to the chair or counter, then progress to holding on with one hand, one finger, then with time you can try no hands when performing the balance exercises.

Balance exercises for seniors are a wonderful addition to your regular exercise program. Practicing these exercises regularly will go a long way in helping to keep you stable and reduc

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.