Balance is an important part of maintaining an active and independent lifestyle as you age. However, when you age, there is a natural decline in your muscle mass, joint mobility, and bone density, which can contribute to a loss of balance. There are also other factors which can cause poor balance among seniors, including medications, poor vision and hearing, and previous injuries.
Poor balance is a commonly reported reason for injuries due to slips and falls, which are often the reason seniors find themselves with limited mobility performing everyday tasks. There are many ways seniors can make their homes safer, and to provide a measure of independence, such as installing security poles in the bathroom. However, exercise is also an effective way to improve strength, posture, and coordination, which can improve overall balance.
Effective balance exercises focus on strengthening major muscle groups—the core muscles in the abdominals and back, and the joints. While cardiovascular exercise is wonderful for heart and lung health, weight-bearing exercise is better for improving balance; however, seniors should note that exercising to improve balance is generally only effective if your balance problems are due to muscular and skeletal weakness, and not due to illness or medication.
To help you regain your balance and live a more active life without fear of falling, here are some of the best balance exercise for seniors to reduce the risk of falls.
The balance walk is a great place to begin your exercise regimen. It promotes visual tracking, straightened posture, and core stability.
This exercise not only promotes good posture but also strengthens ankle and knee joints for a more stable gait when you move. You can perform this exercise with a chair for added stability or with hand weight to increase the intensity.
Back leg raises are muscle conditioning exercises that focus on the largest muscle group in the body, the legs. The legs, especially the quadriceps at the front of your legs, are responsible for bearing a lot of your body weight. Strengthening these muscles will help to create a strong foundation.
Just as in the previous exercise, side leg raises focus on the leg muscles, buttocks, and lower back. However, this movement also promotes stability in the hips and pelvis.
Bicep curls are an excellent exercise for developing and maintaining upper body strength, which can be helpful for stabilizing yourself during slips and falls. The addition of the fitness ball provides an extra challenge to your core, as you need to keep your abdominals and back stable throughout the exercise.
This exercise does require a certain level of prior fitness. If you feel unsteady or unsafe sitting on the fitness ball, perform the exercise seated on a chair.
Squats are one of the best functional exercises for seniors, as many seniors find getting up and down difficult, and it is often at these times they lose their balance. This exercise is designed to be easier on the knees and hips than a standard squat; however, if you find you need added stability, try having a partner hold your hands as you lower yourself down.
Balance is important to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Unfortunately, as you age, the parts of your body responsible for balance deteriorate, which can lead to falls and a cycle of inactivity. This issue can exacerbate your balance problems and may lead to future injuries and loss of independence. Try some of these balance exercises, in addition to other fitness activities for seniors, to stay fit and healthy.
Editor's Comment: This article was written by Craig Hammontree who oversees business operations at Healthmax360.com where he provides educational health tips for seniors and student athletes. You can read more of his writing at https://www.healthmax360.com/blogs/news.
I work daily with seniors and the elderly in my position as a wheelchair specialist at a home medical company. I see the struggle they have maintaining their independence and living their daily lives. Most are completely unaware of the options and products out there that can improve their independence, mobility, and safety in their home. I created this site to help seniors, elders, and their caregivers make smart buying decisions about the many independent living aids on the market.
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