Nobody likes to feel vulnerable, and as a senior, there are ways you can manage your balance so you don’t feel unsteady.
Falls are the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the United States. Frailty and medical conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s can make seniors more susceptible to losing their balance.
Having a fall protection plan in place is a suitable precaution and you should look into one if you are at risk. But you can minimize your chances of having a fall by doing some simple exercises in the home to help maintain your strength and balance!
For some of these exercises, you will need access to a solid chair without wheels that you can hold while balancing.
1. Walk Heel to Toe
Walking heel to toe is one of the simplest ways to increase leg strength while also consciously working on your balance.
Start with your right foot. Bring your right foot forward with toes raised, and bring it down heel first in front of your left foot. Before you take your next step, shift the weight on your right foot from your heel to your toes.
Then do the same steps with the left foot, bringing it down heel first in front of your right and repeat. Walk like this for 20 steps.
2. Walk in Place
Walking or marching in place helps keep the legs limber and increases the overall range of motion.
When performing this exercise you should try to get your knee as high as you can with each step. If you need additional balance for this exercise you can use a chair. Lift each leg 10 times.
3. Rock the Boat
In a standing position, extend your legs as wide apart as you can while still keeping your feet on the floor. Then shift the weight of your stance on to one side, hold briefly, and then shift to the other. Repeat until you’ve shifted five to ten times on each side depending on your level of comfort.
You may find it helpful to perform this exercise while holding on to a chair, and lifting the opposite foot each time you shift your weight to one side.
4. Flamingo Stand
The Flamingo stand involves holding on to a chair and then standing on one foot. While balancing, you then stretch the other leg forward. It’s important that when doing this exercise you maintain good posture so you may need a supervisor to make sure you are doing it correctly.
If you are able, you can also modify this exercise by reaching towards the forward-facing leg with the arm on the same side.
5. Balancing Wand
The balancing want requires a straight hefty stick such as a cane or a broom handle.
While seated or standing, place one end of the stick on your palm and let go with the other hand. Move your hand around to keep the stick balanced as long as possible!
Make sure you alternate hands so you are working on balance on both sides of the body.
6. Wall Pushups
This exercise is a great way to build up your strength and aids in maintaining your equilibrium.
Stand arm’s length in front of a wall with no wall hangings or other obstructions. Place your hands at shoulder width on the wall, and while keeping your feet planted slowly push in and then out of the wall. Try doing these in sets of 20.
7. Back Leg Raises
This exercise helps increase strength in your core while providing a stretch in both legs.
While holding on to a chair, lift one leg back without bending your knee or flexing your foot and hold for a few seconds, then return. Perform this exercise 10 to 15 times with both legs.
8. Side Leg Raises
This exercise is a good accompaniment to back leg raises and helps with your balance.
Hold on to the back of a chair, and slowly lift one leg out to the side with toes facing forward. Hold for a few seconds, and then return. Perform this exercise 10 to 15 times with both legs.
9. Heel Raises
This exercise works to strengthen your ankle and knees, giving you more stability when walking and standing.
While holding a chair and with legs hip-width apart, lift both heels off the ground so you are standing on the balls of your feet. Hold for a moment, then slowly lower back down. Repeat ten times.
10. Clock Stretch
This advanced stretch is great for seniors who have lots of energy and coordination. For this exercise you should envision that you are in the middle of a clock: straight ahead is 12 and straight behind you is 6. You should be looking straight ahead the entire time.
Hold on to the back of a chair with your left arm, and raise your right leg. While holding your right leg up, extend your right arm straight ahead to 12, then to 3, and then behind you to 6. Then return your arm to 3, and then to 12 before putting your foot down.
Perform this stretch twice on each side.
Looking For Aerobic and Strength Exercises That Are Suited For Seniors?
Maintaining your balance is only one part of staying healthy a senior, you also need to make sure you stay active and keep your body strong! Be sure to also read our post on the different types of exercises suitable for older adults.