Most of us take the ability or skill required to balance for granted. After all, it is something we do that requires no conscious thought or effort. It is not until we get older that we realise the complexities behind maintaining balance while walking or standing and how even the smallest of problems can result in imbalance and falls resulting in serious injury.
To build and maintain good balance, seniors must perform balance exercises daily, such as standing on one leg, tree pose, and heel-toe walk, to name a few. These exercises can help increase muscle mass and bone strength, improve cognitive function and coordination, and quicken reaction times. All of which can help reduce the chances of falls.
To help seniors stay more active, independent, and healthy, let’s take a look at some of the best balance exercises seniors can do daily and the advantages and benefits of these exercises for better health and wellness. We will then wrap things up with a few top tips that may go a long way in helping seniors maintain balance for many years to come!
The 5 Best Balance Exercises For Seniors
When compiling this list of the five best balance exercises for seniors, we had to consider several things. We only wanted exercises that:
- Could be easily performed indoors.
- Weren’t too difficult or intimidating.
- Didn’t require any equipment.
- Could easily be incorporated into a daily routine.
- Were safe and offered plenty of health benefits.
With these criteria in mind, here is our list of the five best balance exercises we believe every senior citizen should perform daily.
- Standing On One Leg
This easy exercise requires an individual to lift one foot and maintain balance with the other foot while standing. Simply hold that one-legged position for as long as you can and then switch feet.
It's a good idea to keep something close by for support, such as a table, chair, or countertop to grab onto in case you lose balance. As you get better, you won’t need those anymore. Your aim should be to do one minute for each leg, which is achievable as long as you practise.
- The Tree Pose
The tree pose is the perfect follow-up exercise to the single-leg stand. A popular yoga pose, this exercise helps improve balance and strengthen core muscles.
Keep a chair handy if you are trying this pose for the first time or have difficulty maintaining your balance.
To do the tree pose, stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Raise your hands to your chest as if you were doing a ‘namaste’. Now lift your right leg and turn it inwards so that your ankle rests on the left thigh. Hold that pose for as long as possible.
While this move may be easy to do for young adults, it can be difficult to master for seniors. However, if they can even hold the pose for a few seconds, it can still be highly beneficial.
- Tightrope Or Heel-Toe Walk
This is an awesome exercise that can be done just about anywhere. Mark out a straight line using tape or chalk and then walk that line by putting one foot in front of the other in a way that the heel of the forward foot touches the toe of the back foot.
Have a line that is about 15 to 20 steps and see how many you can do. The more you do the exercise, the better you will get. Also, make sure to keep your eyes focused on the line in front of you to help maintain better balance. You can also keep your arms out, which can further help with stabilisation and balancing.
- Knee Marching
For seniors wanting to maintain or improve muscle strength in their legs, the knee march is a great exercise to perform on a routine basis. Knee marching involves standing straight with your arms by your side and your feet together.
Now, lift one knee as high as you comfortably can and then lower it back down. Do the same with the other knee. Now repeat this process just as if you were marching.
- The Balancing Wand
The balancing wand is one of the easiest and most effective exercises for improving reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and balance.
All seniors have to do is sit on a chair and use any object that is lightweight and shaped like a wand, for example, a cane, wooden spoon, or dowel. Place the object in the centre of the palm in an upright position and, when ready, let go of the object. Now, it is up to you to try and balance that object for as long as possible without allowing it to fall.
The Benefits Of Balance Exercises For Physical & Mental Health
There are plenty of benefits that balance exercises can provide to ageing adults. These benefits include:
- Improve muscle mass and strength - Stronger muscles offer better protection to joints and bones in case of falls or injuries.
- Even 10 minutes of balance exercises can significantly help improve cognitive functions and alertness levels.
- Doing daily exercises helps tire your body, allowing you to get much better sleep.
- Improves reaction time - With better reflexes, mobility, and agility, you have better chances of catching yourself while falling or landing in a manner that doesn't cause serious injury.
- Helps with strengthening bones and core muscles.
- Allow seniors to be more active and confident when moving around.
Top Tips For Senior Citizens When Performing Balance Exercises
- Perform exercises in a safe environment and away from any obstacles or furniture that can get in the way.
- Keep a chair or table close to you to hold on to in case you stumble or lose balance.
- Try doing these exercises with other family members, friends, and/or community members.
- Always wear an automatic fall-detection device
Fall Prevention & Safety With Northwood Intouch
Falls are the #1 cause of hospitalisation for individuals over the age of 65 in Canada. In a battle to help bring down these growing numbers of cases, Northwood Intouch offers products geared at improving the safety and well-being of seniors that live at home. For more information on how we can help with senior care, call us at +1 (902) 454-8311.