We all want to avoid accidents like falls. But did you know there were many simple things you could do to help prevent senior falls and the injuries they cause? In this article, we describe five balance exercises for seniors that can improve your balance and strength.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25 percent of adults over the age of 65 fall each year. Less than half of them report the fall to their doctors, even though falling once makes it more likely that they’ll fall again. About 20 percent of those falls cause a serious injury like a broken bone (95 percent of hip fractures are caused by a fall), and 2.8 million older adults visit the emergency room every year to treat fall-related injuries.
Although falls affect a large number of older adults, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. There are things you can do to lower your risk of senior falls and avoid the injuries associated with them with simple balance exercises for seniors and other tactics.
Are You Doing What You Can To Prevent Senior Falls?
Some falls are caused by things that may be outside of our control, like tripping over an unseen hazard or slipping on black ice. But many senior falls are a result of having poor balance and weak muscles. These are things you can work to improve, using balance exercises for seniors to increase your strength and stability.
If your doctor has cleared you for exercise and you have the opportunity to join a yoga, tai chi, or senior fitness class, consider doing so. These classes feature exercise that can help you improve your strength and balance, as well as your flexibility and cardiovascular endurance.
You may also benefit from socializing with the other members of the class, plus get tips for other exercise routines or activities you can participate in.
Balance Exercises for Seniors You Can Do At Home
Even if you don’t want to join a class or go to a gym, there are ways you can work to improve your balance at home with a few simple exercises. All of these can be done with your hands on the back of a chair or near a wall for safety. Try not to rely on your hands for balance, but they're there if you need help!
As you get stronger, you may be able to take your hands away from the chair or the wall. Exercise daily if you can for best results.
Shift your weight to your right leg, and slowly lift your left foot off the ground. Keep your left foot close to the floor in case you need to put it down quickly. Work toward holding for several seconds without touching the chair or the wall. Make sure to practice on both legs.
As you improve, try lifting your leg a little bit forward, back, or to the side. Move it back and forth or in little circles for a greater challenge.
Lift your heels off the ground so you're balancing on the balls of your feet. Hold for several seconds, making sure that you're not leaning forward with your upper body. As you get better, let go of the chair.
You can also do repetitions of this exercise by slowly raising and lowering your heels instead of holding at the top. Start with a set of 10, and do more as you get stronger.
Imagine you're walking on a tightrope, and place your right heel directly in front of your left toes. Then step forward with the left foot to place the left heel in front of the right toes. Continue walking this way for several steps.
Lift one foot off the ground, bringing your knee up in front of you. Set it down and repeat on the other leg, like you're marching slowly in place. As you improve, make the movement even slower and raise your leg higher.
This exercise works to strengthen your legs, which will help improve your balance. Sit on a hard chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Reach your arms forward and slowly stand up, then lower yourself back down to sitting. Repeat several times.
Do Balance Exercises for Seniors Outdoors
Before we close, here’s a fun tip: If you’d like to get some fresh air while you’re doing these exercises, see if your community offers an outdoor exercise park, or check for what is called a “Calisthenics Park,” which features stationary bar systems you can grip while going through the exercise steps. Don’t have a calisthenics park? No problem! You can also do these exercises in a variety of public parks by using a park bench or picnic table in place of the chair.
Prevent Falls With Balance Exercises for Seniors
As with any form of exercise or exercise program, talk with your doctor to make sure it’s appropriate for you. Remember to start slowly and work your way up as you get stronger. Simply by improving your balance, you can decrease your risk of falling.
Family Healthcare Tips From CareSync
For more family and senior healthcare tips that support your safety and well-being, visit the home page of our patient blog and watch healthcare videos posted to the CareSync YouTube page. You can also explore our site to learn more about Chronic Care Management and care coordination services for Medicare patients, as well as products and services available to non-Medicare patients and caregivers.