- On September 13, 2016
Regular exercise has so many great health benefits, regardless of age. It can help you control weight, improve mood, boost energy, promote better sleep, and ward off a host of diseases and illnesses, among other things. As we age, however, seniors can begin to lose their balance and coordination, creating safety concerns such as increased falls that could result in serious injury. Geriatric balance problems may be due to illness, stroke or other health issues. The following exercises and tips could help you or your loved one improve or maintain balance, making the Golden Years more enjoyable and injury-free.
1. Single-Leg Balancing Exercises
Seniors can do single leg lifts to begin improving their balance. To perform this exercise, start in a standing position, and lift one leg at a time, holding it in place for a few seconds or longer. For those who have trouble standing on one leg, hold onto the back of a chair or sturdy object. Once you’ve found your balance let go of the chair for a few seconds at a time. Repeat the exercise on the other foot. Once you become more comfortable with this exercise, try doing it for longer periods of time.
2. Knee Exercises to Improve Balance
Another balance exercise that is good for seniors involves raising and lowering the knee. Start by standing with a table or chair to your back, or use a balance bar to help you keep steady. Then, bend your knee, bring it up as close to your chest as you can. Be sure to hold onto the table, chair or balance bar if you are unsteady. Hold this position for five to ten seconds, or as long as it feels comfortable, then release your knee. Repeat using the other leg. As you become more comfortable, try holding up your knee for a longer period of time.
Yoga can strengthen your body and improve your balance through various poses and gentle, flowing movements. The Tree Pose can improve your balance by strengthening your back, hips, knees and ankles. Tree Pose can be modified for beginners, and made more challenging when you are ready.
To start, stand up very straight, transfer your weight to your left side while planting the toes and heels of your left foot firmly into the floor. Bend your right knee and slide your right foot up the left to a height that feels comfortable – most beginners start with their foot at ankle or shin level and then progress up to the knee as they feel more confident. Steady yourself and turn you right knee outward while planting the sole of your right against the left leg, but be sure to never rest your foot directly on the knee joint. Finally, place your palms against one another in front of the center of your chest (in a prayer position). Hold the pose for up to one minute or for as long as comfortable, then repeat with the opposite side.
Using props, the wall or a chair will help you stay steady as your balance improves through regular yoga practice.
4. Walking Heel to Toe
If you’d rather start your balance practice with both feet on the ground, walking heel to toe is a great way to improve coordination and balance. True to its namesake, walking heel to toe involves placing one foot directly in front of the other with the heel of one foot almost touching the toes of the other. It can be helpful to keep your eyes focused on a singular point in front of you. Roughly 20 steps should suffice as one set. Then turn around and walk 20 paces in the other direction.
5. Use Specific Exercise Equipment and Work with Professionals
Residents of Gable Pines enjoy a variety of fitness and wellness offerings, including state-of-the-art exercise amenities and personal attention from our health experts. Our range of equipment accommodates seniors facing a variety of health issues and helps them build and maintain strength, balance and stamina.
To find out how we can help you or your loved one set and obtain healthy fitness goals, contact us to set up an appointment with one of our fitness staff members.
Anyone can improve their sense of balance and reduce their risk of falling using these simple and safe techniques. Practicing these exercises daily will improve your sense of balance and strengthen your body, too.