Balance Exercises for Older Adults – Improve Stability and Strength

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients

As we age, we undergo many changes in our bodies and our health. One component that’s hit the hardest is balance. This can pose a variety of risks, as it may lead to falls. Balance exercises for elderly adults can help restore steadiness, and reduce your risks…

We all want to remain as independent as possible. And a major part of that is feeling confident and competent in handling everyday activities. Simple tasks, such as driving or walking around your house, can become difficult if you lose your stability.

Fortunately, if you feel your sense of balance isn’t as good as it used to be, there are several things you can do to help improve your stability and strength.

Let’s take a closer look at some exercises to help improve stability, and explore why it’s essential to maintain your balance as you age!

Why do Balance Problems Appear with Age?

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients

As mentioned previously, your balance can begin to deteriorate as your age increases — but why?

There is no single cause of balance issues for the elderly. In fact, it’s usually a result of a variety of different factors.

One of the critical components associated with balance disorders in the elderly is a reduction in vestibular function.1

Your ears play a critical role in your ability to balance, and issues that impact the vestibular areas of the ear can create serious problems. There are also several other reasons that you may be experiencing balance issues, including:

  • Blood pressure problems
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Genetic disorders2

Unfortunately, balance issues are one of the most common problems suffered by the elderly. That said, there are significant resources in place to help you alleviate issues that are a result of balance and stability problems.

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients

How Can Senior Citizens Improve Strength and Coordination?

Senior citizens can improve strength and coordination by engaging in regular exercise.

While some balance issues may require medication, strength and coordination issues can be enhanced by regular exercise. It is important to keep in mind that different causes of balance issues will require different types of attention.

Evidence suggests just three months of regular exercise may improve physical function — including balance — in older patients.3

While the type of activity plays a role in performance, persistent exercise may have enormous benefits for those suffering from balance problems.

As with anything, practice makes perfect. To improve your current coordination, you need to be persistent. Random, inconsistent training will not likely improve your current situation. Create a workout plan, and stick to it!

Top Balance Exercises for Older Adults

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients

While it’s great to read about how exercise can improve your balance, it’s also vital to put everything in motion.

If you’re looking for specific balance exercises for seniors, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s explore some simple balance exercises that are easy to perform in your home.

As with any physical exercise, it’s essential to start slow. You don’t want to injure yourself by being overzealous.

Also, if you already have severe balance issues, it’s best to speak to a doctor before you engage in any exercises.

While some of these exercises don’t require any props, many of them do require a sturdy chair.

Make sure that you use a chair that is in good condition. It needs to be able to handle your weight when you perform the exercises. Now, let’s start to improve your balance!

Walking

Before you start any exercises, it’s a good idea to walk to get your legs moving. While this isn’t a specific balance exercise, it can help prepare you for some of the movements you’ll be doing.

Stretching is also a good idea, but you should only perform stretches on your own if your current balance skills are adequate.balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients

Eye Tracking

If you want to improve your balance, this is one of the most common exercises. It allows you to train your hand-eye coordination. To perform this exercise, sit still and raise your thumb in front of your face at arm’s length. Your thumb should be facing upwards in the same way you would make a “thumbs up” hand gesture.

Move your arm back and forth across your line of vision. As your arm moves, you should track your thumb with your eyes.

Continue this training for a few minutes at first, but don’t overdo it. Some people report that this exercise makes them feel dizzy.

Single Limb Stance

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton NutrientsNow that you’ve conducted a few warm-up exercises, it’s time to start the true balance activities. Single limb stance is one of the most popular balancing exercises. It’s also one of the simplest.

You’ll need a sturdy chair for this exercise.

Start by standing to the side of your chair. Next, place your hand on the chair and slowly raise your left foot, while leaving your right foot on the ground.

Hold this position for a few seconds. Next, repeat the same process but leave your left foot grounded this time.

If you build up enough confidence, you can also begin to do this without resting your hand on the chair. Just make sure that you are confident of your ability to balance before you do this.

Back Leg Raises

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients
Image courtesy of Lifeline CA

This exercise also includes a chair.

  • Stand behind the chair and place your hands on the back of the chair for support.
  • Next, keep your left leg straight, and slowly raise back, so your left foot is in the air behind you. Keep your leg as straight as possible.
  • After you hold this position for a few seconds, it’s time to do the same for your right leg.
  • Repeat this step a few times. Eventually, you should be able to hold your leg in the air for longer periods.

This exercise is excellent for both strength and balance. Just make sure to maintain good posture to get the best results.

Clock Reach

This is another essential balance exercise that can help you gradually improve your stability.

  • Start by standing behind your chair and resting your hands on the chair back. Next, slowly raise your left foot from the ground so that your knee is bending at a 45-degree angle.
balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients
Image courtesy of Lifeline CA
  • Raise your right arm and point your hand in the same direction that your knee is facing (in front of you). Imagine this is 12 o’clock.
  • Now, move your arm out to 9 o’clock. Repeat this movement multiple times.

After you finish a few reps of this exercise, repeat the same movement with your right arm and right leg. For this side, you will be moving your arm to the 3 o’clock position.

Knee Marching

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients
Image courtesy of Lifeline CA

This is an excellent exercise if you’re gaining confidence and strength. You can perform this exercise while standing still or walking.

Make sure that you have decent balance if you plan on walking, and use a counter or table as extra support if you need it.

The exercise is relatively simple. All you need to do is mimic the movement of marching by raising your knee to waist height. If you’re not confident walking, do this in place while resting your hand on the side of a chair.

Heels to Toes

This is one of the best balance exercises available, but it will also require you to have a decent level of mobility.

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients
Image courtesy of Lifeline CA
  • To start this exercise, stand still with the heel of your left foot touching the toes of your right foot. Your feet should be in a line.
  • Next, move your back foot (right foot) to the front of your front foot (left foot). Your right heel should be touching the toes of your left foot. Continue with this pattern as you slowly walk forward.

Note: The edge of a rug can be a useful tool for this exercise. It can help ensure you’re sticking to a clear path!

Start Slow

As with any form of exercise, it’s essential to start slow. Don’t push yourself during the first few days. You need to build up some stamina and confidence before you start exerting yourself. You can expect some soreness, so be sure to rest when you are tired.

Risks Associated with Losing Your Balance

As you age, having good balance becomes more important. Many problems can occur if you can’t maintain your balance.

One of the most critical risks is falling.

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients

Older adults have to be particularly careful about preventing falls, which can cause significant injury. It can be more difficult for older people to recover from injuries sustained from falling.4

Balance issues can also cause problems for older people who still drive. Keeping proper balance intact is critical if you want to keep your driver’s license.

Physical Activity Can Help Seniors Retain their Sense of Balance

While many people feel like giving up when they begin to lose their balance, it’s a good idea to do exactly the opposite. As mentioned previously, evidence suggests that if you’re able to engage in regular exercise, you may see your balance improve in your later years!5

How Important are Core Exercises for Maintaining a Steady Balance?

If you want to improve your balance, core exercises can be one of the most vital components of any exercise regime.

Core exercises are often easy to complete and don’t require many complex movements. In fact, many core exercises won’t even require you to stand up. They can be much more comfortable than weight exercises.

If you’re currently having trouble standing, this can be a good starting point. Research suggests that core exercises can help improve balance, endurance, and flexibility.6

balance exercises for elderly | Princeton Nutrients

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Balance Issues

If you already have balance issues, it’s essential to speak to a doctor. As mentioned previously, balance issues can arise from a variety of different problems. In some cases, balance concerns may be a symptom of a much larger problem.

While balance exercises for older people can help prevent balance problems arising, some cases will require further help from a doctor.

If you experience a sudden or drastic loss of balance, it’s crucial to speak to a doctor about your particular circumstances.

Verdict: Don’t Let Lack of Balance Risk Your Health

If you want to live a long and fruitful life, it’s essential to stay on top of your balance. Training regularly has been proven to help improve your balance. Many people do not start training until they notice a problem, like balance difficulty. Using training as a preventative method will help you avoid any dangers.

Don’t let your lack of balance put you at risk. Balance exercises only take a few minutes of your day, and they can make a world of difference.

Also, weight exercises to improve strength can help boost your overall health. There are also other examples of activities that will enhance strength on our website.

Learn More:
5 Brain Exercises that are Fun (and Challenging)
Bruised Kidney? Try These Simple DIY Remedies for Relief
6 Bad Habits That Are Disrupting Your Sleep

Sources
1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4306472/
2 https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/balance-problems-and-disorders
3 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269215506070144
4 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0987705308001160
5 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269215506070144
6 https://journals.lww.com/nscajscr/Fulltext/2010/11000/Effects_of_Swiss_Ball_Core_Strength_Training_on.19.aspx

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