Improving your stability can boost your confidence and help you avoid serious injuries from falling. The National Council on Aging reports that falls are the most common fatal injury for seniors with about 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths each year.
Various health conditions can affect balance, including changes in vision, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, poor posture, certain medicines, and dementia. Chronic health conditions like Parkinson’s disease and heart disease also can impair balance.
Whether you’re experiencing one of these conditions or simply would like to be prepared, you’ll want to protect yourself from fall injuries by practicing the best balance exercises for seniors:
- 30 Heel to Toe Step
- 15 Toe Lifts
- 20 Side Leg Raises
- 30 Flamingo Stands
- 15 Wall Pushups
- Eye Tracking: 30 Seconds
- March in Place: 2 Minutes
30 Heel to Toe Steps
Imagine a straight line or balance beam under your feet. Place one foot in front of the other so that your toes are touching the heel of the foot in front. Focus on shifting the weight from your heel to your toes as you repeat this step 30 times.
15 Toe Lifts
Strengthening your feet and calf muscles improves balance as well. Lift yourself up on your toes, but don’t push to an uncomfortable position. It’s helpful to hold onto a chair or wall during this exercise.
20 Side Leg Raises
Stand on either a carpet or mat during this exercise to cushion your feet and hold onto the back of a chair. While maintaining good posture, lift one leg out sideways and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times for each leg.
30 Flamingo Stands
Similar to side leg raises, you’ll want to hold onto the back of a chair during this balance exercise. Lift one leg a few inches off the ground while balancing on the other leg for 30 seconds at a time. Rotate doing this exercise 15 times on each leg.
15 Wall Pushups
Position yourself arm’s length away from a wall clear of pictures or shelves. Place your palms flat against the wall, lean forward, and keep your feet flat on the ground. Lean towards the wall until your elbows make a 90 degree angle and then push back slowly. Repeat this strength and balance exercise 15 times.
Eye Tracking: 30 Seconds
Eye tracking helps head movements and coordination, which is crucial for improving balance later in life. For this balance exercise, extend one arm straight in front of you and hold your thumb in the thumbs up position. Slowly move your arm up and follow your thumb with your eyes without turning your head. Continue to move your arm down and to either side while keeping your eyes on your thumb. If you begin to feel dizzy, stop this exercise.
March in Place: 2 Minutes
Find a comfortable rug or yoga mat to stand on and make sure your shoulders are pulled back. Focus your eyes on an object straight in front of you while lifting one leg at a time to march in place. It may help to extend your arms as you continue this exercise for two minutes.
Practicing balance exercises can help you avoid falling and potentially getting injured. Don’t wait to improve your strength and balance before it’s too late — start early and practice often. Retirement communities like Fox Hill provide personal trainers who can create personalized exercise programs that promote balance and meet your specific needs.