Exercises to Improve Balance
Exercise can make a significant difference in an older adult’s risk of falling. In fact, it can decrease that risk by 13 to 40 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. As a result, numerous organizations around the world that focus on the health of seniors have suggested that exercises to improve balance should be recommended to older adults, especially those with an increased risk of falling.
Thankfully, if you’re looking for an exercise that improves balance, you’ll find plenty of choices. It’s easy to learn how to perform these movements, so you can find a few balance exercises that suit you. Then, you can incorporate these exercises into your own wellness routine. Which balance exercises interest you?
Tandem walking is like walking a line. Begin by standing tall with your feet together. Then, step out deliberately with one foot. On your next step, place the heel of your foot directly in front of the toe of your first foot, as if you were walking on a tightrope. Keep your head up and your shoulders back as you move forward. Extend your arms to the side for balance if you desire. Try to take at least 10 steps without losing your balance.
Marching with High Knees
If you’ve ever seen a high-stepping marching band flow down the street with steps that are perfectly matched and deliberately showy, you know that walking can actually be an art form. Marching can also be an excellent exercise. For the best results, you’ll need to do three things: maintain good posture, cinch your core, and lift your knees a little higher than you normally would. Be mindful as you make your steps, and pay attention to how your muscles are moving as you march for a few minutes. You can march in place or around the room.
Rock the Boat
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your right foot. Then, bend it back toward your bottom. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat three times. Then, switch sides. If you’re comfortable, this exercise can be done in an open space with your arms extended. If you prefer, you can have a wall or chair on the side of your standing leg to provide additional stability.
Heel and Toe Raises
Stand tall with your chest up and your shoulders back. Raise both of your heels for a count of three. Return to your starting position. Then, maintain good posture as you shift your weight to your heels and raise your toes for a count of three. Return to your starting position. Repeat 10 times. If you feel unstable, face a wall or stand behind a chair so that you can brace yourself. Seated heel and toe raises are also an option. For this adaption, go through the same motions with your feet while seated in a kitchen chair.
A fun exercise for those who don’t mind getting down on the floor, “dead bugs” look and sound silly but deliver a surprising challenge when performed properly. To do this exercise, lay down on your back. Raise your legs so your knees are up and bent at a 90-degree angle. Meanwhile, raise your arms straight up toward the ceiling from the shoulder. To begin, keep the core engaged as you extend the right arm above the head while the left leg stretches out in the opposite direction. Return to the starting position. Then, switch so that the left arm and right leg are moving. Aim for 10 reps. If you find the exercise is too difficult, modify it by not lowering your limbs all the way to the floor or only moving one limb at a time.