Balance Exercises for Seniors
One of the biggest fears for many seniors is falling without the ability to get back up. The helpless feeling that comes from being out-of- control of one’s body is simply scary. Thankfully, just because your loved one is getting older doesn’t mean they necessarily have to lose their ability to get around without falling. However, retaining the balance they had in their youth will not happen on its own, it takes practice. Read below to learn more about balance and how it affects a senior’s life:
Why Balance is Important:
Balance is what keeps your loved one upright and firmly on their feet. Poor balance can result in falls, which in turn can lead to serious injury or the loss of mobility all together. Not to mention the fact that it can cause them to be so fearful they stop trying to get around themselves. Falls are more prevalent than you might imagine as well, since more than one-third of all people over the age of 65 will fall in a year’s time.
What Seniors Can Do to Improve Their Balance:
Unfortunately, there is no “fountain of youth” you can employ to keep from aging. Over time, everyones bodies begin to wear out and their balance will suffer. However, by performing the following exercises on a regular basis, seniors can retain more of their current balance and possibly regain some they lost.
- Standing On One Foot: This exercise is simple enough, but can be challenging to someone who has lost their ability to balance properly. This is the perfect first step towards regaining balance; however, because it helps one rediscover their center of gravity. Be sure to use a sturdy chair or other piece of furniture to begin with. To perform this exercise, stand on one foot for 10 seconds and repeat around 10 times. Then, move on to the other leg.
- Leg Raises: This is a strengthening exercise, designed to build strength in the lower body. Use a chair for support, then simply lift one leg straight back, keeping the supporting leg bent. Hold for a second, then repeat as many as 15 times. Then, change to the other leg. The back leg raise will build strength in the buttocks and lower back. The second version of this exercise is the side leg raise. It primarily works the buttocks, thighs and hips. To do this, stand behind a chair and lift one leg to the side. Make sure the back stays straight and the toes remain facing forward. Bend the supporting leg. Hold for around one second, repeating 15 times, then move on to the other leg.
Remember - the best benefits from exercising will come from completing these exercises on a regular basis over a long period of time. While there may be some intial discomfort as the body adapts to new movements, the increased mobility and confidence that a stronger body provides are simply invaluable to older adults. For advanced forms of exercise, try out a form of yoga to use different parts of the body and strengthen new muscles.
How Often Should Balance Exercises Be Performed?
Simple balance exercises like standing on one foot can be done as many times as a person wants to do them. However, strength exercises like the back and side leg raises shouldn’t be practiced more than two days a week, and never on consecutive days. Similar to strength training, it's necessary to give the body time to recuperate and focus on other areas, such as brain fitness.
Strengthening the body and working on improving balance will go a long way in creating more enjoyable senior years. Encourage your loved one to start now to improve their balance and thus keep their mobility for as long as possible.
About Presbyterian Senior Living
Presbyterian Senior Living is a not-for-profit organization, fulfilling its charitable purpose and mission by providing high quality retirement choices, healthcare services and affordable residential living options for people 55 and older for more than 85 years. Headquartered in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Senior Living provides services to approximately 6,000 seniors in 30 locations in the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.