The older population wrestles with a variety of issues, which affect their ability to stay steady. Ailments such as joint inflammation, Alzheimer’s sickness, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and coronary illness can lessen a person’s capacity to move freely. Thus, an exercise regime is required consistently throughout life, especially as you age.
How confident are you while climbing on or off escalators in a bustling mall? Is it safe to say that you hesitate to attempt new exercises inspired by the paranoia of falling?
Being versatile, healthy, and steady on your feet can assist you with being independent, which can further increase your confidence and well-being as you get older. Building up your exercises is crucial in your senior years. Physical movement can improve your adaptability and lessen the danger of some health conditions, especially since Medicare is quite expensive.
Common Reasons For Seniors To Fall
- Your vision may diminish, which can prompt accidents because of the lack of clear sight.
- Your hips and legs can become more vulnerable, making it harder to walk.
- You may develop a poor stance or have spinal degeneration making it difficult to stand erect.
- Your capacity to lift your feet decreases as you age, and so you may stumble.
- Your cognitive reactions may take more time, leading you to trip over something in your way and fall.
- The amalgam of numerous medications can cause instability and put you off balance.
- Low blood pressure can make you lightheaded, increasing the possibility of falling.
Find Your Balance
- Figure out which one is your dominant leg. Start each activity with the non-dominant side so the opposite side will be more comfortable.
- Make sure to maintain a good posture and stance while you are holding the position.
- Look and concentrate on a fixed point straight ahead to maintain equilibrium.
- If you have concerns regarding your balance in the standing position, try putting your feet farther apart.
- Bend your knees a little. This prevents hyperextension (over-stretching) in your knees, and it makes you steadier.
- Spread your weight uniformly between your feet. Pay attention to check if you’re putting more weight on one foot or if your weight is shifting forward or backward.
- As your balance improves, you can explore your limits by shutting each eye in turn, looking up at the roof, or attempting diverse arm positions.
Test Your Balance
You may not be aware that you lack sufficient balance. Listed below are a few ways to test your balance.
1. The Parallel stance – Try standing with your feet, hip-width apart without holding the chair for 10 seconds. In case you remain steady and strong, you can attempt the next exercise.
2. The Semi-tandem stance – Place one foot right before the other and check whether you can hold this pose for 10 seconds without needing the chair to keep you upright. If yes, then proceed to the next one.
3. The Tandem stance – Stand with one foot right before the other as though you are on a tightrope and hold the position for 10 seconds, slowly decrease your contact with your support. You might sway due to imbalance, but on the off chance that you can convincingly hold for 10 seconds, you can say you’re prepared to attempt some balancing exercises.
Best Balancing Exercises For Seniors
1. The Tightrope Walk
To start with something simple, we recommend the tightrope walk to increase your balance, posture, and core strength. Although there is great exercise equipment available for the elderly, there’s no equipment required to perform this one. This exercise should be performed under supervision to keep a count of the number of steps you take.
Hold your arms straight out from your sides. Your arms need to be parallel to the floor. Proceed to walk in a straight line. Pause for a second or two every time you lift a foot off the ground. Make sure to focus on a point straight ahead to maintain your balance effectively. Try resting for a minimum of 15 to 20 seconds before you move on to the next exercise.
2. Rock The Boat
Rock the boat is fairly simple and highly recommended for seniors who are daily workers. While this exercise does not require any equipment, it is advisable to use a yoga mat. Wearing your walking shoes and standing on a yoga mat will provide some extra cushion for your feet. It’s preferable to perform this exercise under supervision.
Start by standing straight with your feet hip-distance apart. For balance, hold your arms straight out from your sides. Make sure to keep your shoulders back and head looking straight ahead. Raise a foot off the ground, bring your leg up, hold for 30 seconds, and put it back down. Repeat the same with the other leg. Alternate the process five times on each side. According to your comfort, you can increase the frequency.
3. Toe The Line
This exercise helps make your legs stronger. No equipment is required, and supervision is preferable. Stand at one wall. Your heels should be touching the wall. Put one foot directly before the other so that your heel touches the toes of the opposite foot. Put your weight on your heel, then proceed to shift it to your toes. Make sure that you place your feet heel to toe. Continue this for at least 20 steps, and after you get comfortable with this, attempt to look forward and focus on a point to improve your stability.
4. Flamingo Stand
A more senior-friendly exercise, compared to toe the line, is Flamingo Stand. Start with standing on one leg. Place your hand on a chair or some form of support. Then, stretch the other leg backward. Stand on the leg for 10-15 seconds, repeat it for a minimum of five times, then move on to the other foot. Your shoulders should be back and your head straight. Supervision is recommended for this exercise to ensure proper posture is maintained.
5. Back Leg Raises
One of the best strength training and balance exercises for the elderly is back leg raises. Along with improving your balance, it helps build your strength and endurance while supporting your lower back.
Begin with standing behind a chair. Proceed to lift your right leg in a backward direction and try not to bend your knees while doing this. Maintain the position for a couple of seconds before getting your leg back on the ground. Repeat the same with your other leg and do this for at least fifteen times with each leg.
6. Side Leg Raises
Side leg raises are a breeze after you have mastered back leg raises. Supervision is recommended, along with walking shoes and a chair.
Stand behind a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift one leg to the side instead of backward. Ensure that you are standing straight, head and toes facing forward. Raise your foot above the ground, bring your leg up, stretch it out, and hold for a second before bringing it down. Do the same with the other leg. Alternate this five times on each side. Feel free to increase your frequency according to your comfort.
7. Balancing Wand
You can be seated while performing this exercise. There’s no need for a specific resource, making it highly convenient. You can use a cane, umbrella, or broom for this activity.
Hold the bottom of the selected item such that it rests firmly on the palm of your hand. In case you have chosen a broom, make sure to remove the broom head. Hold the item for as long as you can. Avoid focusing a lot on one side, and alternate your hands at intervals to ensure even balance on both sides of your body.
8. Wall Pushups
Wall push-ups are amongst the favorite balance exercises for seniors due to their simplicity. All you need is to be near one of the walls of your home.
Begin with standing at an arm’s length in front of the wall. Gently, lean forward and try putting your palms on the surface. Make sure you keep your feet planted firmly on the ground while you attempt the above. Proceed to push yourself backward till your arms are stretched out straight. Repeat this at least 15 to 20 times.
9. Squat To A Chair
A major issue that seniors encounter is getting up and sitting back down. They often tend to lose balance and fall. If you commit to doing squats, this will no longer be a worry for you. This exercise strengthens your knees and hips, naturally improving your stability. Supervision is recommended.
10. Heel Raises
Heel raises are excellent for strengthening your ankle and knee joints. It’s preferable to perform this activity with a chair to give you more balance. If you want to up the ante, you can use a hand weight.
Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart. To help with your balance, you can place your hands on your sides. Lift both your heels, so you are balancing on the balls of your feet. Gently, lower yourself back to the ground. Repeat the process a minimum of 10 times.
5-minute Balance Exercises For Seniors
If you are looking to save your time while improving your balance, this list is perfect for you!
1. One-Leg Balance
Stand on one leg while holding on to a chair for support and slightly relax your other knee, placing your weight on only one foot. Maintain your hold on the chair and fix your stomach muscles, concentrating on a point straight ahead. Lift your foot a little while keeping it flat. Check whether you can balance on one leg, then continue to use the support for help if you have to and put your foot down whenever. Feeling yourself sway and wobble a bit is normal. See if you can hold the pose for as long as 10 seconds, then bring your foot down. Attempt the same with your other foot. Try to raise your heel alternatively in between. Practice this regularly and try building up to 30 seconds on each leg.
2. Heel Raise Balance
Ensuring you have your chair for support, move your feet hip-distance apart. While holding the chair, raise your heels until you are confident you won’t lose balance. Slowly, release your support. You may wobble a bit but that is completely normal. Continue correcting the position of your center until you feel steady and can hold for 10 seconds. You do not have to lift your heels excessively high.
If you want to move forward after mastering this, you can gradually move your head from side to side, which will affect your balance, so try holding onto the chair. Move your head one way, then back to the center and then the other way. Set your heels back down. Practice this multiple times a day.
3. Dynamic Balance
The dynamic balance is like the one-leg stance but with movement. Make sure you can hold the one-leg balance confidently for 10 seconds before you try this exercise. You can use the same set up as the one-leg balance. Hole your support, lift your leg off the ground. Slowly, move your leg behind your body, back to the center and into a knee raise in one movement. After doing this a couple of times, you can rest your foot on the floor. Repeat the same with the other leg.
4. Boost Your Core
At first, hold on to some support while trying this. Place your feet hip-width apart, raise an arm and the leg at the same time. Hold the position for 2 to 3 seconds then repeat the process on the other side. Try to build a rhythm. You do not have to lift your knee too high. Attempt to do the exercise at least ten times on each side.
Improve Your Balance
To make the above-mentioned exercises easier, use the following tips.
- Keep up an active lifestyle— you can join a senior club or take strolls around your neighborhood. It is also a great idea to invest in an exercise bike to help you stay fit.
- Maintain a healthy weight— your eating routine can add to the wrong balance. Consult a dietician to think of a fitting supper plan that will support your regime.
- Take an interest in strength training— this activity isn’t only for the individuals who want to acquire muscle. There are a lot of great strength training exercises that can help you gain a better balance.
- Make use of your walking aid—if your balance is impaired, your doctor may have suggested a walking aid. You ought to use it as you exercise to regain your stability.
Balance Exercises- Pros
Balancing exercises not only help in building strength and coordination but also to improve posture and stability. This automatically reduces your probability of falling or bumping into things, hence, preventing a fall. Injury at an older age is far from ideal. Your healing may not be as accelerated as that of a younger person, so you may take longer to bounce back after an injury.
Feeling confident and self-assured also assists in keeping anxiety and paranoia at bay. It is recommended for seniors to perform at least three sessions of balance exercises per week.
According to a 2016 study, older people who practiced balancing exercises for six weeks had enhanced balance control and high confidence. As mentioned above, the activities also helped improve their coordination, leg strength, and ankle mobility.
A 2019 research indicated the effectiveness of balance exercises in improving the overall quality of life for seniors. The improved mental functions such as better memory and spatial cognition is a definitive plus.
Balancing exercises can bring a wealth of benefits to older people, but it is imperative to approach the regime with caution. Begin with the easiest exercises and then move on to the challenging ones. Whenever required, feel free to use a chair or wall for support instead of risking a fall.
Take breaks and rest when needed. Stay hydrated and make sure to eat before exercising. This will prevent lightheadedness. Consult your doctor before starting your regime, especially if you have a medical condition.
Try having someone by your side to support and guide you whenever required. They can ensure your good posture and provide some much-needed encouragement.
Regardless of the rewarding nature of an exercise regime, it can be quite challenging. Seniors are subjected to an array of physical and mental health problems. To combat this, you must maintain the regime.
Try to enjoy the process, make due note of the variations in your health and balance. If you don’t like it at first, you don’t need to worry or give up. You will soon learn to have fun with it because exercise releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which elevate your mood. Remember, it’s never too late to start an exercise regime or upgrade your current one.