Balance exercises for seniors should be a part of their daily routines to improve coordination and stability in their bodies. Balance exercises help keep the elderly upright as they do different activities such as dancing, climbing stairs, biking, or walking.
The exercises are very important as they help improve balance to a great extent as you become older. Having the best balance is great at preventing injuries. It is highly recommended for older adults because there are risks of accidents such as falls and slips.
Balance is very important in older individuals, and it can improve their quality of life greatly. With regular balance programs, seniors can move about without assistance, which gives them their freedom and dignity back.
Exercises can help with balance, and it is important to start the exercises as soon as possible. However, it is still important for the seniors to have something close by to grab onto should they lose balance during the exercise itself.
If there is pain that lasts a long time after or during the exercises, it is important to consult a doctor to get advice on the same. Exercises should help with the natural alignment and are great for a healthy lifestyle.
Why should senior citizens perform balance exercises?
Many people don’t think of balance as an important thing. They navigate quite easily and without much effort. There are yet others with very poor balance issues. Some deal with dizziness and imbalance, while others suffer from injuries and falls due to balance problems.
Balance exercises for the elderly can reduce the chances of falling and sustaining injuries. There are exercises for seniors that have been tested and tried on seniors and have shown the great benefits and improvements that such exercises can bring about.
Broken bones are reduced by around 61 percent, while falls that cause serious injuries can be reduced by 43 percent. This, therefore, shows how important it is for seniors to engage in some forms of exercise to improve life.
Understanding balance and injury
The people who are most prone to falls are children/toddlers and the elderly. In most instances, a child will fall and almost immediately shake it off and keep on moving. When the same happens to a senior, there may be serious consequences.
These include broken bones, muscular pain, bruises, and so on. They may cause a fall in their health. Every year, so many seniors die after breaking their hips due to falls. When head injuries or broken bones occur, confidence is lost, and a fear of falling develops.
This, in turn, undermines independence. Structured exercises combined with balance training can reduce falls to a great extent. Such programs should be implemented to reduce the injuries associated with falls.
Exercise and disease prevention
Balance exercises have the same benefits as those of regular exercises. This means better health and disease prevention. This is an important benefit that should motivate people to exercise more.
When regular exercise is chosen, older individuals have a much lower risk of getting many conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
With moderate but regular exercises, the immune function in older people is improved. This is because lymph fluids are moved all through the body. This is done through the pumping action of the muscles improving, immunity to a great extent.
Even simple activities like walking can be great at preventing diseases. When the body is at the best health state, the older individuals will feel much better. This, in turn, boosts self-confidence and contentment with their life. This is one of the best ways of adding value to life and enjoying the senior years.
Other benefits associated with the exercises
Apart from balance, there are other great benefits of the exercise programs. These include:
- Fast reaction time: with this, the sensor can stay upright if a fall is initiated. Usually, the seniors can put an arm out fast to grab onto something quickly and become stable again.
- Better coordination prevents falls and may also help the senior roll instead of simply crashing to the ground.
- Building muscles: larger and stronger muscles can cushion the fall impact, which offers better protection to joints and bones.
- Strong bones: usually, resistance exercises are great for bone strengthening. Strong bones tend to be a bit more resistant to getting fractures.
- Brain function: with regular exercises, brain function is maintained. With clarity on thinking, the risks of a fall occurring are reduced.
The main reasons why the elderly should perform balance exercises
When fall risks are reduced, it means enhancing senior citizens’ ability to live an independent life. Exercises are designed to enhance the balance in most individuals, and they are great at preventing accidental falls.
Injuries caused by falls can cause serious injuries to the joints, the head, and the spine and cause broken bones. This means reduced life quality and independence in the elderly person.
Balance exercises are great for seniors because they are practical, engaging, and simple in most cases. They are calibrated in a way that addresses elderly persons’ personal needs. With such exercises, the elderly get back the ability to do most activities independently without falls.
The five main reasons why seniors should engage in exercises include:
When a good routine for balance is included in the regular exercises for an elderly person, it means there will be great improvements in the individual. With such exercises, seniors can be mobile again or stay mobile for a longer time than the seniors who do not engage in any exercises.
Balance means the ability to move about without any falls, it also means distribution of weight to hold the best and most stable position when stationary. Just like all other things in life, practice makes perfect. When seniors exercise regularly, the results become obvious.
Stability for seniors while on their feet can be a nightmare if it’s allowed to be. It is normal for elderly persons to feel unsteady as they handle some activities.
If there are risks of falls, the elderly person may simply shut down and avoid the activities completely, reducing mobility. When movement is reduced, so is balance and strength, and this causes instability.
2. Overall health
There are instances that one may not be so concerned about falls and injuries. However, everyone needs to know that balance routines and exercises are great for improving health at an overall level. With exercise, the elderly can build stronger bones and muscles.
There is also a great improvement in cardiovascular functions and a boost in self-confidence at a personal level. These things are very important for wellbeing and health in general.
Many things change as we grow older. When things start getting challenging, seniors have difficulty doing things that were very easy when younger. Balance training and exercise is the best way to boost mobility and health while at the same time improving the senior’s safety out in the open and around their own home.
This includes eyesight, muscles, and navigation. Some exercises can be performed to meet these needs. If possible, a personal physical therapist can be hired for better-personalized training.
3. Improved cognitive function
As we get older, cognitive function is reduced to a great extent. Many of the things that seemed obvious and easy are no longer so obvious or easy. For this reason, life may get more difficult which can be a very frustrating time for the elderly.
In general, people who take time to exercise regularly get a much better brain function. This is the same case with the elderly. Staying active keeps their brains active which is a great thing.
Exercise has a way of promoting health. With regular exercises, some neurotransmitters are released, which promote a healthy brain even when one is stressed. When the elderly get exercise, then they get better clarity with their thinking.
This means that they can navigate even better even when they are within very complex environments. This means that falls are prevented because the elderly person will see and recognize a precarious situation and avoid it altogether.
4. Improved sleep
Balance exercises have benefits that are great for seniors. One issue that the elderly have to deal with is sleep quality. Sleep is important for the health of seniors and everyone in general. With exercise, seniors are capable of sleeping better.
When the quality of sleep is improved, it means that the seniors can rest better. This is very important for the elderly, especially if they tend to struggle with bad sleep patterns.
This is never a good thing for seniors. When they exercise, the body stays alert during the day, which means a better circadian rhythm. Issues with this rhythm can lead to irritability and chronic foggy thinking.
Doing the balance exercises outdoors and getting some sun can be very beneficial to make things even better. This gives seniors a chance to be out in the open and enjoying their day.
5. Improved reaction time
In young people, reflexes are great and much quicker when they are in their best health. This is one of the things that save them from falls. However, as people get older, things get a bit more complicated. Things get very slow, and the reaction times are reduced significantly.
With proper balance exercises, the reaction time can be increased. This is because of the ability of exercises to strengthen muscles and bones. This is also associated with the improvement of the brain’s functionality and cognitive ability of the same.
Exercises are, therefore, an integral part of any seniors’ life. With stronger bones, stronger muscles, and better brain health, seniors can react much faster. This means that the individual can remain upright even in situations where they would fall.
When they recognize that there is a chance of falling, they can be trained to quickly grab on to something more stable or put their hand on something stable, such as a wall.
Best 15 balance exercises for seniors
Improving balance in seniors is a great thing and can improve the quality of life. There are different ways of improving balance which include stretching, which improves flexibility, mobility training which reduces joint stiffness, exercises to strengthen leg muscles, arms, and core, and so on.
The main aim of such exercises is to ensure better coordination and stability throughout a senior person’s body. Balance is needed to stay upright during different activities.
The 15 best balance exercises for seniors include:
Balance exercises 1: Head rotation
This is one of the balance exercises that seniors can try out. This exercise is great at improving balances in some situations where there are vision changes. This involves standing up tall. The senior needs to ensure that the hips and feet are in line. It helps first to do it sitting down.
After this, the head should be rotated from right to left. The senior should then move the head up and down for around 30 seconds. If dizziness is experienced, you should stop or move slower. If this does not help, the exercise can be stopped and done later.
Balance exercises2: Foot taps
The senior person should stand near a step, probably at the bottom of a staircase or a step stool. In such a case, it helps to be near a wall or have a cane at hand. A stick-on hand can offer support when needed.
The feet should be at hip-width, and then the left leg should be lifted to tap the step or stair top. This should be done about 20 times, then switch to the other leg.
Balance exercises 3: Marching
The feet need to be hip-width apart in this one. The senior should stand upright and then bend the knee slowly, then lift the other foot so that it’s parallel to your floor. If it’s impossible to lift it that high, you should take it as far as possible.
This can be done by holding on to something for support when needed. This should be alternated and done ten marches each.
Balance exercises 4: Boat rock
The person should stand on one leg and then hold the other behind. It’s a simple senior balance exercise that deals with balance issues. The legs should be hip-width apart and should be planted firmly on the ground.
You should try holding that pose for 30 seconds, and support should be used if needed. One leg should be lifted behind or side and then repeated on the other. Different poses should be tried out for more challenges.
Balance exercises 5: Clock reach
This is great for those with vision and mobility issues leading to balance issues. You should stand with the feet shoulder-width apart, then hold on to soothing with the right hand.
Think of a circle representing a clock, then lift the left foot from the floor, and then point using the left hand to 12, 9, and 6 o’clock. Do this with the other foot as well. If possible, weights can be used on the raised foot for a better challenge.
Balance exercises 6: Alternate vision walks
The feet should be hip-width apart and should be at the end of a room. You should then look over the right shoulder and take a couple of steps forward while maintaining that head position.
Take a pause and turn the head to look over the other shoulder and take some more steps, four or five. This should be repeated a couple of times on either side. You can try holding a weight against the chest if possible.
Balance exercises 7: Single leg raise
You should stand with the feet under the hips to offer support. You should then lift one foot an inch off the ground. You should avoid leaning on the other side. Weight should be kept on the foot on the ground, and try remaining upright.
Do this for 10 seconds and then alternate. Each side should get five raises. If you are not accustomed to the exercise, you should get some support to avoid topping over then do without support as time passes.
Balance exercises 8: Body circles
For this balance exercise for seniors, a cane should be used as it can cause dizziness. The feet should be hip-width apart. The lower body should be aligned to the upper body, and you should stand straight then lean forward gently.
You should then lean to the left, back, and right while moving the body in a circular motion. Don’t do it too far forwards or backward lest you fall. For better balancing, hold hands out like a plane.
Balance exercises 9: Grapevine
This can be done with some music. The feet should be together as you stand perpendicularly. The arms should be kept at the sides loosely. The left leg should be taken in front of the right slowly then placed on the floor firmly.
The right leg should be moved and crossed behind the left. This movement should be continued till you get to the end of the room or when the line has been completed. Eyes should be kept focused on the front to make it more challenging.
Balance exercises 10: Sit to stands
This one helps in standing and sitting. You should stand right in front of a chair while the back faces the seat. You should then sit on the chair slowly. Rest and stand up. Do this ten times.
It may be necessary to get some support at the beginning using a walker or cane. With time, you may be able to do this without the support. To make it more challenging, the chair should be eliminated and squats done instead.
Balance exercises 11: Tight rope walk
You should lift the arms and then extend them to the sides. You should then walk straight and focus on a fixed point in front of you. When you raise afoot, ensure that your pause the foot while raised for a couple of seconds.
You can do 20 to 30 steps. This exercise for balance improves core strength, posture, and balance. It is a very simple but effective balance exercise for seniors and a good consideration.
Balance exercises 12: Flamingo stand
In this exercise, shift weight to the right foot. You should then raise the left leg and then extend the leg forward. Try holding that position for 10 to 15 seconds. To make it even more challenging, try to reach out the hands towards that extended foot.
You should then return to the initial position, shake out the legs, and do it on the other leg. This should be done three times for each side. It is a good exercise for posture.
Balance exercises 13: Tree pose
You should stand on your feet then shift your weight to the right foot. The left foot should then be positioned to the side while lifting the heel. As an alternative, place the foot sole against the thigh, shin, or ankle.
Ensure the hands are in a comfortable position, then hold that position for about a minute. The same should be repeated on the other side.
Balance exercises 14: Heel-toe walk
You should stand with the heels pressed to a wall. The left foot should be placed in front of the right foot. Ensure that the left heel is touching the right toes.
You should then place the right foot in front of the left foot, ensuring that the heel touches the left toes. This should be maintained, and try doing around 20 steps. This is a great exercise that can improve balance by strengthening the legs.
Balance exercises 15: Balancing wand
This is a simple exercise that you can do seated. You can use a stick or a cane. A broomstick would suffice but ensure there is no head. The bottom should be held, ensuring it’s flat on the palm.
Try to keep the stick in an upright position for the longest possible time. You should then change hands so that you get to work on the balance skills on either side of the body.
Being senior does not mean that exercising should stop. At this point in life, it is important to stay active as much as possible and engage in physical exercises regardless of how simple or basic they may seem. It can be a great way to improve well-being and balance. If necessary, you can get a physical therapist who can give a personalized plan related to your physical or medical needs in case of arthritis or recent surgery. Balance for seniors’ exercises can help seniors develop the best balance while at the same time building strength. It can be combined with some physical therapy for an even better outcome.