Good balance is the foundation for your independence, helping you stay mobile and active. It’s common for balance to be a struggle as you get older, making balance exercises important for improving coordination and stability. However, if you’re new to balance training, you may need some support.
Continue reading to learn more about balance, its importance, and what exercises can help improve it.
The Importance of Balance
Balance is one of the main types of exercise every person should include in their workouts. It’s easy to assume you only really use your balance in certain situations, but you use your balance any time you move. Walking, standing, and going up and down stairs require balance so you don’t fall and hurt yourself.
The importance of balance cannot be understated—it’s especially helpful for older adults. Even if your balance isn’t as good as it could be, regular practice and exercise can help improve several aspects of your life.
Why Should Seniors Perform Balance Exercises?
Balance is the core skill needed to move and function independently, especially with age. Balance control tends to decline with time, and poor balance becomes a significant fall risk.
Falls are more dangerous for older adults. They can lead to fractures, long-term pain, lower quality of life, disability, or serious consequences. Some seniors may even avoid physical activity altogether because they fear falling and hurting themselves.
Balance exercises have many benefits for seniors. Besides being a way to get the body moving, they can help improve your quality of life and independence. Previous research found balance training resulted in improved fall-related self-efficacy, reduced fear of falling, increased walking speed, and improved physical ability.
A 6-week study from 2016 discovered that older adults completing balance training helped improve their control and confidence. The training routine helped their coordination, leg strength, and ankle mobility.
What Are Balance Exercises?
There are many balance exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine. Even completing a few every day can help improve your balance and coordination. These exercises force your body to learn how to stay upright.
Some common balance exercises you can try include standing on one foot, walking heel-to-toe, lunges, and the tree pose.
Standing on One Foot
A single-leg balance is a simple exercise to get you started on the journey to better balance. You can complete this exercise by standing up straight or holding a chair, depending on your current needs.
You can complete a single-leg raise by following these steps:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Extend your arms out to the side (or hold onto a chair)
- Lift your knee off of the floor
- Straighten your leg out in front of you & hold that position for 30 seconds
You can repeat this exercise for both legs 3 times in a row.
Walking heel-to-toe, also known as a tightrope walk, can help improve your balance. You can create a fake tightrope with tape on the floor, follow markings on the floor, or find a straight line to walk along to assist you.
Complete a tightrope walk with the following steps:
- Pick somewhere to walk toward
- Extend your arms to the side & walk forward slowly, keeping one foot in front of the other
- Walk from heel to toe, waiting 5 seconds between each step
Doing this exercise once a day can benefit your coordination.
Lunges can help improve your ability to regain balance when you stumble. You typically extend a foot forward to catch yourself, and lunges can help you do this without falling.
Follow these steps when performing a lunge:
- Stand straight with your hands on your hips
- Step forward with one foot, bending at the knee
- Lower yourself until your thigh is parallel with the floor
- Breathe, hold this pose for 30 seconds & slowly rise to the starting position
You can complete this exercise for each leg 5 to 10 times.
Tree pose is popular in yoga, helping you improve your balance. Remember to keep a chair nearby for safety because this exercise requires you to have your hands free, which may be difficult if you’re new to balance training.
Here’s how to complete a tree pose:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep your hands on your chest, or one on your chest & another on a chair for safety
- Raise one leg straight up, turning it inward to rest on the side of your other thigh
- Hold this position for 30 seconds or longer, if you can
Switch legs and repeat this exercise 3 times for each one.
Tips for Your Balance
If you’re looking to improve your balance, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use good posture & form when keeping balance
- Focus your gaze forward when completing an exercise
- Bend your knees slightly to improve your stability
- Keep your weight balanced between both feet
Find Support During Your Fitness Journey
Consider a senior living community if you’re looking for support for your balance. These communities have the resources to help maintain your health, prevent falls and other problems. Besides your health, senior living can help care for aspects of your daily life, including food, medication, and social interaction. Contact us if you want to learn more about the benefits of senior living.