Falls are a major cause of injury and regression for older Americans. These balance exercises for seniors will help enhance stability and avoid falls.
Falls are the number-one cause of injury for seniors. In fact, the CDC’s Home and Recreational Safety Department tells us that each year, 25% of U.S. citizens aged 65 and up will suffer a fall.
2.8 million injuries resulting from falls are treated in emergency departments every year. 800,000 of those injuries result in hospitalization and 27,000 of those patients will not come home.
Our sense of balance can be negatively affected as we age, making balance exercises for seniors essential for living a happy, healthy retirement. A few minutes every day spent doing some simple balance-enhancing activities could save you from injury…or worse.
Join us as we describe the top balance exercises for seniors, so you can keep on living the good life, standing strong.
Why we Need Balance Exercises for Seniors
As we age, we can think to ourselves, Don’t Fall, Take it Slow, Don’t Fall. However, if your balance is off, you can fall at any speed. You can take a tumble from any height, even on a level surface.
So, what’s an active, ambitious senior to do? First, understand what could be at the root of the trouble with balance.
The inner ear is crucial to maintaining balance. If the fluid level in the ear is “off,” your balance will be as well. A knock on the head can lead to balance problems, and vertigo can result from a number of injuries and conditions.
Any damage to the spinal cord, acute or chronic, can put you off kilter, as can any level of nerve impairment.
Chronic conditions like dementia, diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s disease and high or low blood pressure can cause dizziness and loss of balance.
Temporary circumstances like low blood sugar and dehydration are also common culprits.
Even if you’re an otherwise healthy senior, something as simple as loss of muscle tone can lead to falls…which could bring your vigorous retirement to a screeching halt.
So let’s do everything we can to avoid taking that spill.
The Very Best Balance Exercises for Seniors
Building muscle tone can help anyone with their sense of balance. When your body is strong, you’re more likely to stay steady.
You’ll also have an easier time navigating uneven terrain and correcting imbalance when your muscles are strong.
Your brain plays a big role in balance, too. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls balance, and certain types of dementia can negatively affect it.
In fact, balance issues are often experienced before loss of memory and reason. In general, the nerves in the brain do not communicate as well as they once did, thanks to a lack of blood flow.
Brain function and balance work together. Keep your brain sharp with mental and physical exercise, and you will maintain a higher level of equilibrium. And in turn, if you can keep your sense of balance, you can more thoroughly exercise your mind and body.
Let’s talk about some exercises you can do every day to preserve and restore balance.
Hold onto the back of a chair or other sturdy piece of furniture. Lift one foot and balance on the other for one minute (or as long as you can). Repeat with the other leg.
Rear Leg Lift
Find something to steady yourself with, like the back of a chair. Keeping your left leg straight, lift it backwards, off the ground. Hold it for a few seconds and bring it back down. Repeat as many times as you’re able and then switch to the right leg.
Single-Leg Arm Raise
Stand next to that chair again. Hold onto it if you need to. Lift your right hand over your head, stretching your arm straight up. Carefully raise your right foot and hold for a few seconds. Repeat with the left side.
Place your left foot in front of your right, the heel of your left touching the toes of your right. Then do the same with the other foot. Continue moving forward, placing your weight on your heel and moving your weight to the toes with each step.
Stand facing a wall. Place your palms on the wall, shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows to bring your body close to the wall, then straighten them to bring your body upright again. Just like a push-up, except you’re using the wall instead of the floor.
Hold onto a counter or other piece of high, sturdy furniture. Perform a slow, marching motion, bringing your right knee up, placing your foot back on the ground, and then bringing your left knee up.
Stay at that counter. Hold onto it and raise yourself up on your toes. Lower yourself back down on flat feet. Repeat as many times as is comfortable.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Look straight ahead and center yourself. Shift your weight to the left leg and lift your right foot off the ground. Shift your weight to the other side and repeat, being careful not to move too quickly.
Side Leg Lift
Grab that chair. Balance yourself with your feet hip-width apart. Carefully lift your left leg to the side, with your toes and eyes straight forward. Slowly lower the leg and repeat as many times as is comfortable. Repeat with the right leg.
Hold onto the back of a chair or other piece of sturdy furniture. Lift your left foot from the ground and hold your left arm straight out in front of you. Hold that for a few seconds. Move your arm straight out to the left side. Again, hold for a few seconds. Then move your arm straight out behind you. Repeat in reverse, then repeat with the right side.
Grab a cane, walking stick or broomstick. Sit in a straight chair. Place the stick upright in the palm of your hand and balance it in the air for as long as you’re able.
Gaining Momentum with Balance Exercises for Seniors
As you develop a daily exercise routine, you will begin to understand the relationship between mental acuity and physical strength. Balance exists when both of those are sharp. Continue to challenge yourself, without pushing so far that you’ll fall or cause injury.
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Remember, these exercises are offered as suggestions and guidelines. It’s always best to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.
It’s never too early or too late to start balance exercises for seniors. Just go at your own pace, doing those things that feel comfortable for you.
And as you progress, stay on top of all the latest senior news at The Senior Life. There, you’ll find everything you need for living the retirement of your dreams!