It's no secret that as you age, you begin to lose muscle tone, reflexes become slower, and the ability to rebound from a minor loss of balance, such as when a person trips on an uneven pathway, becomes notably slower. Fortunately, there are exercises to improve balance for seniors and many older people are realizing there is a lot they can do to improve balance at home.
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5 At-Home Balance Exercises for Seniors
1. The Flamingo Stand
This exercise is one of the easiest ways to begin to improve your balance. Simply stand behind the back of a chair or stand in front of a countertop. Place your hand on the surface, bend one knee, and lift your heel to the rear to about knee height. The lower half of your leg should be at a 90 angle to your body. Hold the leg in place for about 10-15 seconds, then repeat the same exercise with the other leg. Repeat on both legs 5 times. If 5 sets are too much, then only do 2 or 3 sets until you can work your way up to 5 repetitions on each leg.
How it Helps
The feet, ankles, and lower legs feed vital information to the brain through a process called proprioception. The information sent to the brain helps maintain our ability to balance.
Standing on one leg challenges the muscles and other tissues in the standing leg to work harder, thus improving the communication (that pertains to balance) between the legs and the brain.
2. Side Leg Raise
This exercise can also be performed standing behind the back of a chair or in front of a countertop. Stand with legs slightly apart. Slowly lift one left to the side making sure the toes of the raised leg face forward, then bring the raised leg back to its original position. Repeat the exercise on each leg 10-15 times.
If you need to grasp the back of a chair or the countertop to maintain your balance, be sure to do so.
How it Helps
This exercise also helps the proprioceptive sensors that feed balance information to the brain from the legs. It also helps improve the strength of muscles on the side of the thigh, which helps improve balance while walking or standing.
3. Tightrope Walk
This exercise will need to be performed in an area where you can walk about 20 steps. This exercise is similar to walking on a tightrope or taking a sobriety test. Stand with your arms out to each side. Place one foot directly in front of the other, with its heel touching the toes of your other foot. Then move the other foot and place its heel directly in front of the toes of your other foot. Gradually walk about 20 steps, heel to toe. If 20 steps is too difficult, then only do a few steps and gradually build up to 20.
How it Works
This exercise tightens core muscles (especially when performed using good posture), that are involved in maintaining good balance and coordination. It also makes the legs stronger. Improving leg muscle strength can help a person recover their balance more easily if they trip.
4. Wall Pushups
Stand about an arm's length away from a wall. Lean forward and place both palms on the wall at about shoulder height. Keeping your feet completely planted on the floor, slowly bring your face and body to the wall. Do as many pushups as you can, gradually working up to 20.
How it Works
Wall push-ups strengthen core muscles (especially in the abdominal area) that help improve balance and coordination.
5. Marching in Place
This exercise can be performed next to a countertop for support. Simply march in place, alternately raising each knee as high as possible. Go slowly for the first few marches to ensure you have sufficient coordination to complete the exercise. Also, engage your arms in the march if possible. Work up to 20 marches on each leg.
How it Works
Marching in place helps improve proprioception and coordination, which in turn helps improve the ability to balance.
Enjoy all the benefits of living at a senior living community like Sarasota Bay Club, contact us today to speak with a member of our team or to schedule your own private tour.