Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults?
Falls happen at all ages, but as we grow older, we lose muscle tone and our balance suffers. This leads to a higher risk of falling. Fortunately, balance, like any physical ability, can be improved with regular practice and exercise.
In this article, we’ll go over four senior exercises for balance that, if done regularly, can help prevent falls and keep your body strong and healthy for years to come.
The Tight Rope Walk
Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms straight out at your sides, parallel to the ground. Pick up one foot and place it in front of the other to form a line, like walking over a tight rope. Pause for a second or two to make sure you’re balanced and then repeat with the next foot.
See how far you can go across the room with this exercise. It’s a great exercise for helping your brain and feet coordinate and developing strength in your feet and ankles. And, as an added bonus, you’ll develop strength in your arms and shoulders by holding them out at your sides.
Tree is an ancient yoga pose that’s known to help improve balance. There are many variations of this pose, so you can adjust it to your skill level and increase the difficulty as you improve.
Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Pick up your right foot and balance on your left, holding your right foot just above the floor. If you have the ability, turn your right foot in, placing the sole of your right foot on your left inner calf to form a triangle wiht your right leg.
Once you’ve mastered this, pick your arms up and raise them straight out at your sides, fingers stretched wide to mimic a tree leaf. Then reach your arms up over your head and touch your palms together.
Again, if you can’t do this on the first go, it’s okay to only do a portion of this pose to start. Finally, hold the pose for several seconds, then repeat on the other leg.
Sit, Stand, Sit
This simple exercise can make a big difference in your leg strength over time. Your legs are the base for your body, so the stronger your leg muscles, the more steady your base and the less likely you are to fall.
Start by sitting in a chair facing a wall. Leave enough space between your legs and the wall to allow you to stand up comfortably.
Touch the wall with your palms to steady yourself. Then rise up out of the chair to a standing position. If you need to, you can place your hands on the arms or seat of the chair and use them to help push you up.
Once you’re standing, sit back down in the chair and repeat the process 10 times, or as many times as you’re comfortable.
Mountain is another ancient yoga pose designed to help with balance. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands down at your sides. Face forward and close your eyes.
Mentally check in with your feet and legs. Feel your feet root to the ground to form a strong base for your body or “mountain”. Stand like this with your eyes closed as long as you like.
This seems like a simple exercise, but it’s very important for keeping your mind connected with your feet. The more aware you are of your feet and legs, the less likely you are to fall when you’re caught off guard.
Try These Senior Exercises for Balance
These senior exercises for balance are a great way to improve your balance from home. However, if you have a history of falls or recurring injuries, you should talk to your doctor about physical therapy to help with balance.
At St. William’s Living Center, we have a physical therapists on staff to help you with all of your exercise needs. Contact us today to learn about how physical therapy can help you recover and prevent falls in the future.