What Is The Importance of Balance Training for the Elderly?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Proper balance training and exercises can have a significant effect on the mobility of older adults and can even reduce the chance of a fall. Here are more reasons that balance training is important for seniors.

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Balance training is not just for athletes. Just about anyone will benefit from enhanced stability, particularly seniors. As you start to get older, you can become more susceptible to falling and injuries.

The Main Benefits Of Balance Training For Seniors

Here are the main reasons that balance training is important for seniors and the elderly:

Joint And Muscle Health

Balance training involves using several muscle groups. When you build muscle it protects your joints and bones. At the same time, it will also make it easier to keep your balance.

Concentration, Reaction Time, And Coordination

Balance training will help your mind and body to stay sharp. Consistent training will improve reaction time and improve your concentration levels.

Improve Your Mood

Regular exercise can be fun. It will improve how you feel and make you a lot stronger. You will also improve your chances of avoiding injuries and improve your self-confidence.

Reduces Chances of a Fall

Older adults who have better balance reduce their chances of a fall, especially falls with significant injuries, according to Harvard. Of course, falls can lead to serious and even deadly consequences for seniors and the elderly so they should be avoided.

The Best Balance Exercises For The Elderly

Here is a list of easy and gentle balance exercises or movements to help you improve your balance:

Stand On One Leg

This is a simple exercise you can use to improve balance. Hold onto a wall or chair with both feet together. Lift your right knee slowly until your foot is in line with your ankle or calve. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise with your left foot.

Lunges

When you step down from a curb or someone accidentally bumps into you, you should be able to regain balance quickly. This requires something known as “gait training” which involves regaining balance during a locomotive activity. Stepping back or forward is usually the easiest way to regain balance and this is when lunges are helpful.

Begin with your knees straight and your hips and feet facing forward. Drop your shoulders back and down and keep your ears in line with your shoulders. Secure your position by placing one hand on each hip. Step forward with either your left or right foot.

Inhale, bend both of your knees lowering your body until your left or right thigh is parallel to the ground (or when your reach a “range of motion” that feels comfortable for you). Make sure the back knee is not touching the ground. To exit the lunge, press with the back foot and push through with the front heel. Repeat the exercise with the opposite foot.

Stepping Side To Side

This is an extremely beneficial balance move since it mimics the way we move in our day-to-day activities. Fitness experts recommend moving from one side of the room to the other (similar to a side shuffle).

Once you feel more confident with this exercise, place small objects along the path that you will need to step across. Another good exercise includes walking across a room backward.

Squats

Squats not only help with balance but also keep the joints in your knees and hips more flexible. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your arms next to your sides. Make your core strong, bend the knees and push your buttocks back.

Look forward while you start lowering your body. Rise back up slowly until you return to the standing position. Repeat the exercise 5 to 6 times.

Final Thoughts

Just about any form of movement is great for balance, and the ones mentioned above will improve your strength and overall balance. Many seniors and the elderly are also turning to tai chi as a gentle form of balance exercise. As you try out these exercises, go through each one slowly and avoid doing any move you are not comfortable with or ready for. If you feel more comfortable using a table or wall to hold onto for balance for each move that is perfectly fine until you feel more confident.

It is also important to keep an eye on joint pain, which could be a sign that one or more of your joints are not aligned properly. It could also mean that you are doing too much. In these cases, stop the exercise immediately and consult with your doctor.

Lastly, have fun! regardless of the form of exercise or movement, you decide on, make sure you choose something you will enjoy. Once these exercises become a part of your daily routine, you will soon feel confident enough to start including new moves or even joining an exercise class.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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