Home / Healthy Tips / 5 Ways to Build Balance and Prevent Devastating Falls

 

Have you ever lost your step on a slippery sidewalk, flinging your arms in the air and sending your heart racing?

Unfortunately, balance issues intensify as we age. What’s more, falling can result in life changing injuries for seniors including hip fractures and head injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the top cause of injury death among people 65 and older.

Anywhere, Anytime

Though our balance typically declines as we age, balance training and activities have been shown to improve stability and decrease the incidence of falls. Everyone’s balance can be improved and it’s easier than you might think. Plus, you can do balance exercises on the fly, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something nearby to hold on to. In the beginning, using a chair or the wall for support will help you work on your balance safely.

5 Balance Builders

Our friends at the National Institute on Aging complied a great list of balance/strength exercises below to incorporate into your daily routine. Remember, to modify them as you progress. Start by holding on to a sturdy chair for support. To challenge yourself, try holding on to the chair with just one hand, then with time, you can try holding on with just one finger, then – viola – no hands! Feeling super balanced? Try doing it with your eyes closed!

1. Balance Exercise – Walking Heel to Toe

  1. Improve your balance by walking heel to toe.
  2. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
  3. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  4. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps.

2. Balance Exercise – Balance Walk


Improve your balance with the balance walk.

  1. Raise arms to sides, shoulder height.
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
  3. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
  4. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

3. Strength Exercise – Back Leg Raises


Strengthen your buttocks and lower back with back leg raises.

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly.
  2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg straight back without bending your knee orpointing your toes. Try not to lean forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold position for 1 second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg.
  7. Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each leg.

Strengthen your hips, thighs, and buttocks with side leg raises.

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly.
  2. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your back straight and your toes facing forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold position for 1 second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg.
  7. Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each leg.

Balance Build-Ups:

If you enjoy exercising with others, consider Tai Chi or yoga classes. But you don’t have to sign up for a class to start bettering your balance. Incorporate exercise challenges into your daily routines. Try brushing your teeth while standing on one leg. Or while watching TV, stand on one leg for 30 seconds, and then repeat with the other leg. Looking for a challenge? Increase the difficulty by simultaneously doing bicep curls. Up the ante by closing your eyes or turning your head to the right and left.

 

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