Exercises for seniors for balance will help reduce the risk of falls which are the leading cause of injuries in persons 65 and older. It is estimated that 30 percent of seniors older than 65 fall each year. Most falls do not result in injury and may go unreported.
Weakness and difficulty walking are a big risk factor in falling for seniors. To prevent falls, building strong legs and practicing balance exercises are an easy step seniors can take at home.
- Tandem Stance
- Heel Walk
- Leg Swings
Watch my instructional video
The tandem stance is one of the most popular exercises for seniors to improve balance. This exercise focuses on narrowing your base of support to challenge the brain in ways unexpected. Your brain responds by creating a more stable stance with practice. Heel walking is a simple exercise that can have a dramatic effect on your balance especially with waking in situations that involve side stepping around things like a coffee table. The stepping square exercise pattern is important because it teaches your body to move in every direction, front, back, and side to side. Leg swings are a fun and challenging exercise for seniors. With one leg planted, the other leg is trying it’s best to destabilize your core.
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.
Heel Walking. Begin at the side of your chair. Rise back on your heels while holding on to the chair or a wall. Begin walking around the chair or against a wall while on your heels. Repeat in the other direction.
Square Walking. Imagine a square in front of you on the floor about 16 inches to 24 inches square. Begin by taking a step to the top corner with both feet, then to the side, then back, then return to the starting position. Repeat this movement pattern for one minute.
Leg Swings. 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.
Remember we use 3 systems to maintain our balance throughout the day. These are our vision which can help stabilize our posture by locating the horizon, thereby giving us a reference of where level should be placed. Our somatosensory system is used in our feet and ankles to tell our brain the lay of the land, be it gravel, hilly, rocky, or slippery. With conditions like neuropathy in seniors, we lose some of the ability to feel the ground, causing balance loss. Our vestibular system is mounted in our ears and conveys information about how our head is positioned in space and whether we are moving or spinning in relation to the world. Problems with this area can cause vertigo, which is a spinning sensation and also very disabling.
If you are looking for fall prevention information, remember that balance exercises for seniors is part of the remedy. Also it is important to check with your doctor and manage any medications that may cause dizziness. In addition it is a good idea to perform a safety check on your home and yard for environmental hazards such as hoses, loose rugs, extension cords, etc.
Posture is a large factor in maintaining your balance also. Work on standing tall with your ribs lifted, your chin tucked in and your tummy tight. Bring your shoulder up back and down to position the arms. Imagine a string attached to your head pulling you straight up to heaven.
Exercises for seniors for balance will help improve your strength and stability, especially with daily practice. Remember practice makes..permanent. If you practice sitting in a recliner, you will get good at sitting in a recliner. Begin a daily program of balance exercises and feel how much more confident and balance you will be.
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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