Even for older adults who are physically active and fit, there comes a time when their balance begins to diminish. It’s a natural part of aging, but there are a wide variety of strength and balance exercises for seniors that can help you maintain your balance. Not only will improving balance help your overall quality of life, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to prevent falls and other injuries. These five exercises are perfect to get you started.
1. Rock the Boat
“Rock the boat” is one of the simplest and most effective balance exercises for seniors. It gets its name from the back-and-forth motion performed, but unlike its turbulent name, it’s important to remember to take it slow and focus on control.
Start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Slowly lift one leg out to the side as far as you can safely go and hold the pose for 30 seconds. Slowly bring the extended leg back to the starting positions, then repeat with your opposite leg. Do this exercise five to 10 times with each leg. For extra support, hold onto a chair, walker or cane as you extend your legs. This video demonstration will help you master the “rock the boat”
2. Tightrope Walks
This simple exercise can improve your posture, leg strength, and even core strength in addition to improving balance. Also called heel-to-toe walks, it’s performed exactly how you would expect walking a tightrope.
First, to help you keep a straight line, you may want to lay a piece of 6-foot tape on the floor. Begin the exercise by extending your arms out to your sides. Focus your eyes on a fixed point ahead of you and begin walking in a straight line. With each step, align your back foot directly straight with your forefoot, and each time you raise your foot, pause in the raised position for three seconds. Take 20 to 30 steps, making sure you focus on controlled, balanced movements.
3. Semi Squats
Also known as sit-to-stands, these modified squats act as both strength training and balance exercises for seniors. This is a great example of a balance exercise you can do anytime throughout your day. All you need is a chair and some kind of support like a table, desk, cane or walker.
Start in a standing position in front of a chair. In a controlled, smooth motion, ease yourself down into the chair. Rest for a moment, then stand back up focusing on using your quad muscles to control how quickly you stand. For a greater challenge, do this exercise without a chair and only use a desk or other support to help yourself stand. This demonstration will help you perfect this balance exercise.
4. Single Leg Raises
For this balance exercise, you’ll need a sturdy support to lean on, preferably a strong chair or a countertop. As you improve over time, you can perform the exercise without support and vary the exercise to different positions.
To begin, stand up as straight as possible with your feet directly beneath your hips. Lift your left foot an inch or two off the floor and focus on standing perfectly straight with no lean. Keeping your weight on your planted right leg, maintain your left foot’s raised position for 10 seconds. Return to the starting position with both feet on the floor, then switch legs and repeat five times. Use this guide to help you through this exercise.
One of the simplest, easiest, safest balance exercises for seniors, marching in place may seem a bit too novice of an exercise, but it can significantly benefit balance and range of motion if done consistently.
Start standing upright and position your feet hip-width apart. Focusing your efforts on controlled, slow movement, gently bend your knee and lift your foot until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Try to lift your thigh as high as possible with each marching step while you maintain your balance. If you need support, hold on to the back of a chair. Repeat for 10 marches on each leg. As simple as it sounds, this video will help you get the full range of benefits of this exercise.
Balanced Lifestyles at Peace Village
With an on-site fitness center, group classes, and plenty of opportunities to live a truly balanced independent lifestyle, maintaining your quality life at Peace Village comes naturally. If you’d like to learn more about independent living here, don’t hesitate to contact us anytime through our website or call us at 708-361-3683.