Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the number one cause of injury among seniors. Hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries are the most common injuries.
Having a bad fall, however, is not an inevitable result of aging. Getting your eyes checked, making your home safer, and asking your doctor to review your medicines are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling. Getting regular exercise is also an important step to prevent falls and fractures.
Doing balance exercises will strengthen your muscles, improve coordination and quicken reaction time. If you do stumble, you’re more likely to recover your balance because you can react faster with increased strength. And if you do fall, you’ll fall better. Like the crumple zone in your car, your coordinated muscle action softens the impact, dramatically lowering your odds of serious injury.
6 Top Balance Exercises for Seniors
You can do exercises to improve your balance almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy to hold onto if you become unsteady. In the beginning, using a chair or wall for support will help you work on your balance safely.
Stand on One Foot
Stand behind a chair or counter and hold on with one hand. Stand on one foot and hold position for up to 10 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times and then try it with the other leg.
Put your right foot in front of the left with your heel touching your toes. Choose a spot in front of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toes of your other foot. Repeat for 20 steps. (If you’re unsteady, try doing this near a wall so you can steady yourself if you need to.)
Back Leg Raise
Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Try not to lean forward. The leg you’re standing on should be slightly bent. Hold position for one second. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10-15 times. Repeat with the other leg.
Side Leg Raise
Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your back straight and toes facing forward. The leg you’re standing on should be slightly bent. Hold position for one second. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10-15 times. Repeat with the other leg. (As you progress, you may want to add ankle weights).
Hold your arms out to your sides. Walk in a straight line and pause for one to two seconds each time you lift a foot off the ground. Focus on a spot ahead of you to keep you steady as you walk. Aim for 15-20 steps.
Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out as you slowly bring your heel up toward your buttocks as far as possible. Bend only from your knee and keep your hips still. The leg you’re standing on should be slightly bent. Hold position for one second. Breathe in as you slowly lower your foot to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times. Repeat with the other leg. (As you progress, you may want to add ankle weights.)
Explore a Balanced Approach to Life at Sagewood
At Sagewood, we know one of the best ways to prevent falls is to encourage regular physical activity. That’s why we offer a variety of ways to support residents’ balance and mobility. In addition to personalized fitness programs, residents can participate in group exercise classes, including tai chi, yoga, balance classes, strength training, cardio workouts, aquacise and dance instruction. To learn more about how we support an active independent lifestyle, get in touch.