Balance plays an important part in our everyday lives and much like other aspects of our health, our balance can decline with age. This natural decline has resulted in slips and falls being the leading cause of senior injuries and death. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this decline and maintain your physical abilities.
By exercising, you can improve your balance, strength, and confidence. This allows you to move around more comfortably and with a lower risk of a falling injury. Below are the top balance exercises for seniors.
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Single Leg Stance
Starting with a simple exercise is a good idea if you aren’t used to exercising in your senior years. To do the Single Leg Stance, stand behind a sturdy chair. Hold the back of the chair and lift your right foot. Balance on your left foot for as long as you can, then switch to the other foot.
Once you are confident enough, you can let go of the chair. The goal is to hold that pose for up to a minute on each foot. Just make sure you keep the chair nearby for safety.
Another simple balance exercise is the Leg Shift. To do this one, plant your feet firmly on the ground, hip-width apart. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, and chest out. Keep your head level and as you stare straight, transfer your weight slowly to your right foot and lift your left foot off the ground. Hold this position for as long as possible, then slowly plant your left foot back on the ground. Repeat these steps on the other side.
Start by doing this exercise 5 times per side and don’t hold the position for longer than 30 seconds. Again, it is a good idea to keep a chair nearby for support.
Heel to Toe
Walking heel-to-toe can make your legs stronger, improving your balance and allowing you to walk with more confidence. Stand near a wall and begin slowly walking heel-to-toe along the wall. Run your hand along the wall as you walk for support.
Put your right foot directly in front of your left foot, so that your right heel touches the toes on your left foot. As you walk, put your weight on your heel, then sift your weight to your toes. Repeat this process for 20 steps.
Backward Leg Raises
To make your bottom and lower back stronger, do ten to 15 backward leg raises. For this exercise, you’ll need to grab your chair again. Stand directly behind the chair and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lift your right leg behind you, keeping your leg straight the entire time. Try to avoid bending your knee or pointing your toes. Hold that position for a moment, then slowly bring your leg back down. Repeat on the other leg.
For safety, the chair is there to grab on to. Do this exercise 15 times on each side.
To strengthen your calf muscles, calf raises are a great exercise. Stand with your feet steadily planted shoulder-width apart near a chair or counter. Stand straight up and put your arms in front of you, facing the chair or counter in case you fall. Gently shift your weight from your heels to your toes, then raise yourself on your toes as high as you can go. Hold that position for a second, then slowly lower yourself.
Don’t lean too far forward or backward, as this could cause you to lose balance. Try to stay standing straight up and repeat the exercise 20 times.
Toe lifts are similar to calf raises. Hold the same standing position near a chair or counter. Then, instead of lifting your heel off of the ground, you’ll lift your toes off of the ground. Shift your body weight from your toes to your heel, then lift your toes up off of the ground. Hold the position for a second, then slowly bring your toes back down to the floor.
If you physically can’t lift your toes, you can simply shift your weight back and forth from your toes to your heels, and vice versa. Holding onto the chair can also help your balance as you lift your toes until you are confident enough to do this exercise without the help of the chair.
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