Remember how you used to play tag as a kid? You weren’t bothered if you fell because you’d get right back up and keep playing. Grass stains were the only thing you had to worry about. So what’s the problem now? Why are we so afraid of falling as we get older?
Benefits of Balance Exercises for Seniors
The fact is, falls are the number one cause of injury among seniors and are a leading cause of accidental death. In addition, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in older adults. Just the fear of falling can hold you back from leading a more active life — which, paradoxically, increases your risk of falling and hurting yourself.
Why Seniors Should Perform Balance Exercises
Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of falling by doing strength and balance exercises for seniors. Keep it up and you’ll notice your reactions are quicker, your coordination is better, and your muscles are stronger.
If you do stumble, you’re more likely to recover your balance because you can react faster with increased strength. And if you do fall, you’ll fall better. Like the crumple zone in your car, your coordinated muscle action softens the impact, dramatically lowering your odds of serious injury.
Better Balance is the Foundation for an Active Life
No one wants to feel old and doddery. Daily exercise, like these balance exercises for seniors below, help aging adults feel younger and able to do the things they enjoy. A stroll around the neighborhood. Holding a grandchild in their arms. Dancing to their heart’s delight. Even everyday activities like going up and down stairs or walking in the dark become easier.
In addition, balance exercises can improve cardiovascular function, cognitive ability and bone strength. All essential requirements for an active, independent life.
Balance Exercises for Seniors
You can do exercises to improve your balance almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold onto if you become unsteady. In the beginning, using a chair or the wall for support will help you work on your balance safely.
Try these simple balance exercises for seniors at home:
1. Stand on One Leg
Lift up your right foot and balance on your left foot. Hold that position for as long as you can, then switch feet. The goal should be to stand on one foot without holding onto a chair for up to a minute.
2. Rock the Boat
Place your feet hip-width apart. Slowly transfer your weight to one side, lifting the opposite foot off the ground a few inches. Hold for as long as you can (no more than 30 seconds). Slowly transfer your weight onto both feet and lift the opposite leg. Try to do five reps for each side to start with.
3. Heel-Toe Walk
Put one foot in front of the other so the heel of your front foot touches the toes of your back foot. You may not be able to get your heels and toes to touch completely, but try to get them as close as you can. Take between 15 to 20 steps this way. Keep your eyes fixed on a point in front of you to help maintain balance.
4. Tightrope Walk
With your arms out, walk in a straight line, pausing for one or two seconds each time you lift your back leg off the ground. Keep your head straight and look at a fixed spot in front of you like a tightrope walker.
For more exercises you can do at home, check out these videos from SilverSneakers specifically designed to improve balance and stability.
Fall Prevention and Balance Training at StoneRidge
Balance classes are the most popular fitness class at StoneRidge. Seniors naturally have a fear of falling, so our classes build their confidence as they build their strength, primarily in the ankles, hips and core.
We also hold an annual balance challenge in March that provides helpful pointers to improve balance, practical tips on how to avoid a fall, and exercise challenges specific to improving balance.
Balance classes, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation, Aqua Fit, stretch, and core classes are just some of the ways we stay fit and active at StoneRidge. You can learn more about our fitness program here. For more information on the wide range of activities StoneRidge residents enjoy, visit our HealthyLife Services page.