It is common for adults to encounter balance and coordination problems as they age. This can be a result of illness, stroke or other health issues. Balance issues can result in falls and potential injuries, and are a legitimate safety concern for older adults. The following exercises and tips can help you or your loved one improve or maintain balance.
Note: For people of all ages it is important to consult a physician before beginning a strenuous exercise routine.
1. Single Leg Balances
For starters, seniors who have trouble balancing can try a single leg-lift exercise to help improve balance. Start in a standing position, and lift one leg at a time, holding it in place for a few seconds or longer. If you have trouble standing on one leg, hold onto a balance bar or back of a chair to steady yourself. Once you find your balance, let go of the back of the chair or balance bar for a few seconds at a time and focus on balancing on one foot. Change feet and repeat. Once this exercise becomes more familiar, try doing it for a longer period of time.
2. Knee Exercises to Improve Balance
Another exercise that helps improve balance focuses on the knee. Start by standing with a table or chair to your back, or use a balance bar to help you keep steady. Bend your right knee and bring it up as close to your chest as you can. Hold the position for five to ten seconds, increasing the time as you build strength. Bring your foot back down to the ground. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
A gentle type of exercise that strengthens your body and improves balance is yoga. One yoga position that targets balance is Tree Pose. Being by standing up very straight and grounding your feet, making sure ears are over shoulders. 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 leg to a height that feels comfortable – most beginners start with their foot at ankle or shin level and then progress up to just below the knee as they feel more confident.
Use the wall or a chair to help you stay steady as your balance improves over time. When you feel ready, 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. As you advance, you can try turning your raised knee outward while planting the sole of your foot against the standing leg, but be sure to never rest your foot directly on the knee joint.
4. Heel-Toe Walk
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. Try walking 20 steps for one set. Work toward completing three to four sets at a time.
5. Let a Professional Guide You
At Towne Club Windermere, a senior living community based in Cumming, Georgia, you will enjoy countless opportunities for achieving wellness in mind and body, all while having fun. Life-balancing amenities such as the Fitness and Wellness Center feature classes, equipment and expert instruction to help you be your strongest.
By using these suggested exercises and tips, you can improve your balance to help prevent falls as well as increase your overall strength and well-being.
For more information about Towne Club Windermere’s healthcare programs and services, please contact us today.