Balance Exercises for Seniors

By Nichole Politza

As you age, your balance can worsen. Each year, more than 2 million older Americans are seen in the emergency room due to fall-related injuries. Improving your balance with exercise can help decrease your risk of falling and allow you to lead a safer, more independent life. To perform these exercises as safely as possible, have a sturdy chair nearby to hold onto. If you still feel unsteady, ask a friend or relative to stand with you during exercise. Always talk to your doctor before you begin any new exercise program.

Standing on One Foot

This basic exercise is a good place to start your balance training. Begin by standing behind a chair, holding on with both hands. Lift one foot off the ground and hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat with the same leg 10 to 15 times, then perform the same number of repetitions with the other leg. Over time, this will become easier. As you improve, try holding on with only one hand. When you feel comfortable, perform the exercise without holding on to the chair at all.

Sit to Stand

Practice standing up from a chair without using your hands. This exercise can help improve your core and lower-body strength, as well as balance. Begin seated in a sturdy chair that does not have arms. While keeping your arms crossed across your chest, stand up without looking down at the ground. Keep your body upright without leaning forward as you stand. Maintain the same body position and slowly sit back down into the chair. Repeat 10 times.

Side and Back Leg Raises

Leg raises help build balance and strengthen your hips, thighs and buttocks. To perform side leg raises, stand behind a chair with your feet slightly apart. Slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your body upright and your toes pointing forward. Pause, then slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each leg. To perform back leg raises, stand behind a chair with your feet slightly apart. Slowly lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or leaning forward. Pause, then slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each leg.

Heel and Toe Walking

This is a slightly more challenging exercise that requires active movement. Perform this exercise near a wall so that you can hold on, or have someone walk beside you. Begin taking 10 steps forward walking only on your heels. Don't let your toes touch as you take each step. Turn around and walk back to where you started, this time on your toes. Don't let your heels touch as you take each step. Repeat 10 times, alternating between heels and toes.

References

About the Author

Nichole Politza is a writer based in Central Pennsylvania. She works full time for a health insurance company and is a certified exercise instructor. She has been a health and fitness writer since 2004 and holds a bachelor's degree in professional writing from Kutztown University.

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