Exercises for balance for seniors and the elderly are vital as we grow older. Age-related declines in our balance are in part due to muscle and joint range of motion loss, slower reflexes, reduced visual sensitivity, and cognitive changes.
Working on head movements using the exercises below will help support your ability to look around the room when going about your day. If you are unable to perform this exercise without getting dizzy, then stop.
I have made a great balance video that is fun and easy to do. All you need is a chair, 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! Exercises like the eye tracking exercise above are important measures we can take to help offset these declines.
Your doctor can tell you more about your dizziness. If you suspect a more serious problem like vertigo, orthostatic hypotension or drug interactions, definitely check in with your doctor. When trying the exercises for balance below, hold on to a chair at first using your non-dominant hand.
Use your dominant hand to perform the movements. Once you feel more secure, then try letting go of your hand briefly, then for longer periods.
You’ll get it sooner or later! If you get dizzy when performing these exercises for balance for seniors and the elderly, make sure you sit down, get a drink of water, and try to look straight ahead at eye level until you start feeling better.
Purpose of this exercise
These exercises will help our visual and vestibular systems. They are Important in maintaining our postural stability.
Hold your thumb comfortably in front of your face with your elbow bent.
Move your thumb to the right as far as comfortable. Then move your thumb to the left as far as comfortable. Try not to move your head. Follow with your eyes only.
Then move your thumb upward, and finally downward.
Eye Tracking Exercise #2 How to do it
Now hold your thumb at arm’s length.
Move your thumb to the right as far as comfortable. Then move to the left as far as comfortable. This time, follow with your eyes and head.
Move your thumb upward, then downward.
Breathe normally, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
Lift your chest high while maintaining a level head. If you get dizzy, stop. If you would like to try again, hold on to a chair this time. If you feel pain in your neck, especially when turning to the side, only turn as far as comfortable.
Take it up a notch
Perform at a quick pace for 2 minutes. Add a one pound wrist weight to your arm. Stagger your feet one in front of the other.
How to perform eye tracking
More Balance Exercises
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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
- 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!
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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.)