Top 10 Elderly Balance Exercises to Improve Balance and Coordination50 minute read
50 minute read|
Updated for June, 2019
The elderly population grapples with an array of problems, which have adverse effects on their capacity to remain steady. Medical conditions such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and heart disease can reduce their ability to stay balanced and move freely. It is this unsteadiness that eventually leads to falls and, subsequently, injuries.
Engaging in a moderate exercise program is necessary to improve your balance and coordination.
Apart from chronic illnesses, there are other reasons that make seniors more prone to falls. These include impaired eyesight, side effects of medications, and a decline in physical fitness. Understandably, individuals become less active as they become older because their bodies take longer periods to repair. Nonetheless, engaging in a moderate exercise program is necessary to improve your balance and coordination. Here are the top ten elderly balance exercises.
Rock the Boat
Rock the boat is a simple exercise that is great for seniors who are daily walkers. This exercise requires no equipment, but it would be wise to wear your walking shoes, stand on a yoga mat to give your feet a little extra cushion and have someone with you for supervision.
To perform this exercise, begin by standing with your feet shoulder width apart with even weight on each side and raise your arms out to the sides for balance. You will start by standing up straight, shoulders back, head looking forward. Raise one foot off the ground, bringing your leg up and hold for up to 30 seconds and then bring back down to the floor. Repeat with the other leg, alternating this process five times on each side. You can increase this frequency as you become more comfortable.
It is wise to have someone monitor you for this activity to avoid straining your muscles excessively.
Toe the Line
This balance exercise makes your legs stronger to help you walk without falling. It requires no equipment, but if you feel like you may fall have someone with you for supervision.
To start this exercise, begin at one wall with your heels touching the wall. Put one foot in front of the other foot so that your heel touches to the toes of the opposite foot. Move the foot that is against the wall in front of the other foot, putting your weight on your heel. Shift the weight to your toes and then repeat the walking motion. Take your time to ensure you are placing heel to toe. Walk like this for 20 steps.
After the first few steps, look forward, focusing on a single location to enable you to remain stable while you carry out the exercise.
If Toe the Line turns out to be a little too difficult, the Flamingo Stand is the most senior-friendly exercise. All you need to do is stand on one leg.
If Toe the Line turns out to be a little too difficult, the Flamingo Stand is the most senior-friendly exercise. All you need to do is stand on one leg. While in this state, place one of your hands on a chair or a supporting frame and stretch the other leg forwards.
Initially, you can stand on one leg for 10 to 15 seconds then try repeating this for about five times before moving to the other leg. Although simple, this exercise should also be supervised. It ensures that you’re maintaining the right posture when performing the Flamingo stand. By right posture we mean keeping your shoulders, back, and head straight and the ears above your shoulders.
After mastering this technique, you can take it a notch higher by reaching for your stretched-out foot without letting it come into contact with the surface.
Back Leg Raises
Back leg raises are the best and simplest strength training exercises for seniors. Apart from improving your balance, it will help in building your strength and endurance while still supporting your lower back.
Start by standing behind a seat. The next step entails lifting your right leg straight backwards. When doing this, try your best not to bend the knees. Remain in this position for a couple of seconds before returning your leg back down. Do the same for the other leg. The recommended frequency for this physical activity is fifteen times for each leg.
Side Leg Raise
If you were able to perform the back leg raise, then performing this one will be a breeze. All you need is a chair, your sturdy walking shoes and someone to supervise you for this exercise.
Start in the same manner—by standing behind a chair with your feet shoulder width apart. Instead of stretching one of the legs, say the right leg, backward, you should lift it to the side. Make sure you are standing up straight, head and toes facing forward. Raise one foot off the ground, bringing your leg up and out and hold for a second or two and then bring back down to the floor. Repeat with the other leg, alternating this process five times on each side. You can increase this frequency as you become more comfortable.
If you’re looking for a balance exercise that does not ask for too many resources or technique, the balancing wand is a perfect solution.
If you’re looking for a balance exercise that does not ask for too many resources or technique, the balancing wand is a perfect solution. You can use a cane, umbrella, or broom. This exercise can be performed while seated.
Depending on the item you’ve chosen, hold the bottom so that it’s resting firmly on the palm of your hand. If you have chosen a broom, remove the broom head before beginning. The idea here is to hold the stick for as long as you can. Do not focus too much on one side. Alternate your hands from time to time so that you balance both sides of your body evenly.
Wall pushups are another favorite elderly balance exercises. It is pretty simple—you just need to be close to one of the walls of your home.
You should begin by standing at an arm’s length in front of a wall. Next, lean frontward gently and try placing your palms on the wall. You’ll need to keep your feet firmly on the surface as you attempt to bring your body towards the wall. Next, push yourself backward up to that point where your arms are stretched out straight. Perform this exercise about 15 to 20 times.
Squat to a Chair
If you’re looking for a balancing exercise for seniors, the squat is an excellent choice. One major problem that elderly encounter entails getting up and down, and it’s during these times that they lose balance and suffer falls. But, you don’t have to worry about this anymore; at least not if you commit to doing chair squats regularly. The main goal of this activity is to strengthen your knees and hips; hence, boost your stability. Supervision is recommended for this exercise.
Begin by standing in front of a seat. Your legs should be hip-width apart. Ensure that your chest is raised slightly and then try lowering your hips back and down while bending at the knees. You are free to hover above the chair or simply sit down. The only precaution to take is to avoid extending your knees beyond the toes.
Remain in this position where your entire body is leaning forward, starting from the hip region. Try pausing at the bottom of this movement then push through your feet before resuming your original position.
The last physical activity that we recommend you to do to boost your stability is a heel raise. It’s great for strengthening the ankle and knee joints; hence, providing you with a stable gait. Whenever possible, try performing this activity with a chair to give you more balance. You can also use a hand weight if you want to improve on intensity.
To start, stand upright; our feet ought to be hip-width apart. To gain balance during the first few minutes, you can place your hands on the sides. Next, you’re required to lift both of your heels so that you’ll only be balancing on the balls of your feet. Try lowering yourself back to the ground gently, and then repeat the process for at least ten times. This exercise can also be performed in a chair wherever you are.
Maintain a healthy weight—your diet can also contribute to poor balance.
A Few More Balance Tips
Apart from exercises, there are a couple of tips that can improve balancing for seniors. These include:
- Maintain an active lifestyle—you can join a senior group or go for walks around your neighborhood.
- Maintain a healthy weight—your diet can also contribute to poor balance. Consult a dietician to come up with an appropriate elderly meal plan that will boost your gait.
- Participate in strength training—strength training is not just for those who want to gain more muscle. There are plenty of great strength training workouts that can help you regain balance.
- Use your walking aid—if your balance is impaired, your physician may have recommended a walking aid. You should utilize this walking aid as you exercise to try and regain your balance.
If you have a problem balancing and coordinating your muscles, lounging around all day is not going to improve your condition. Your best bet at preventing falls and other mobility-related accidents is to get back on your feet and try a couple of balance exercises. Most of these exercises are pretty simple, such as the tightrope walk, balancing wand, and leg raises. Whenever possible, have someone supervise and guide you through these physical activities.