Exercises for Seniors to Improve Balance

Balance isn’t just for ballerinas and acrobats; it’s an essential skill for everyday life, and one that becomes more important as you age. Some of the physical challenges that happen with age can affect balance and increase the risk of falls for older adults. There are times when an unexpected trip, slip or missed step is inevitable, but having strong balance skills can help you recover and sometimes even prevent a fall. If you want to stay agile in your 70s, 80s and beyond, working on balance exercises can help keep you on your toes. 

Reducing the Risk of Falls

Balance issues may be caused by a combination of physical changes as we get older, and falls can be a significant cause of disability for older adults. Every year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries, and about 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As the years go by, you may not feel as quick or steady on your feet due to increased weakness in the hips and legs, slower reaction time when navigating obstacles, problems with the inner ear or vestibular system, or vision issues that increase a person’s risk for falling. In some cases, side effects of certain medications may cause low blood pressure, lightheadedness or dizziness that can affect a person’s balance.

Focus on Balance Exercises

Balance exercises that focus on strength, flexibility and stability help older adults stay active and maintain independence later in life. You can get started with the following balance exercises and modify as needed for your comfort level. If you have a health condition or limitations that make it difficult to exercise, talk to your doctor about safe ways to exercise.

1. Sit-to-Stand: Sit on a chair and scoot your hips to the edge of the chair. Use your arms to push up off the chair and stand up. To sit down, bend at your knees first and slowly lower your body to the seat. Pause and repeat. 

2. Stand Tall: Stand with your feet pressed evenly into the floor and bend your knees slightly. Keep your head high, with your shoulders relaxed and in alignment with your hips and heels. Try this pose in front of a mirror to check your posture. Once you feel balanced, try closing your eyes for 10 seconds or longer. Hold on to a counter or chair for stability, if needed.

3. Walk the Tightrope: No equipment is needed for this one — simply imagine there’s a tightrope in front of you. Hold your arms straight out from your sides (parallel to the floor) and walk in a straight line. Pause for one second each time you lift a foot off the ground. Focus on a spot straight out in front of you instead of looking at the floor. 

4. March in Place: This one is great for your cardiovascular fitness as well as balance and coordination. Hold on to a counter or sturdy chair with one hand, stand up straight and lift one knee up until the thigh is parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as possible). Alternate legs, lifting and lowering each leg 10-20 times. 

5. Toe Lifts: For this exercise, stand up straight and keep your arms out in front of you either placed on a counter or holding onto a chair back. Slowly raise up on your toes as high as you can, then gently lower back down to flat feet. Try not to lean forward as you raise up and down. Your goal is to do 20 toe lifts. 

6. Foot Taps: Stand with your feet hip-width apart in front of a low piece of furniture, such as a step stool. Hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. Raise one foot to tap the step in front of you, then slowly lower it to the floor. Try 20 foot taps on one leg and then switch to the opposite leg.

7. Wall Pushups: Find your starting position facing a wall at arm’s length. Lean forward slowly and place your palms on the wall, always keeping your feet planted firmly on the floor. Next, use your arms to push yourself back from the wall. Repeat the push up about 15 to 20 times. 

Find the Right Balance at Westminster Village

At Westminster Village, we offer a robust program focused on helping you remain independent longer by improving your strength and balance. Our Live Well Fitness & Rehab Center makes wellness fun, and you’ll look forward to working out in a beautiful resort-style setting. Join us for senior fitness and healthy living classes, including yoga, tai chi, pickleball and more. Contact us to learn more about how we can support you and help you maintain an active lifestyle now and in the future.

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