According to the NHS, roughly one in three adults aged over 65 living at home will experience a minimum of one fall per year, often with the likelihood of more to follow. Although most people recover reasonably quickly from the majority of falls, a bad fall can result in more severe and long-lasting injuries that may affect a person both physically and mentally. As well as causing more obvious injuries such as broken or fractured bones, falling can also cause a person to lose their confidence and become anxious about going out on their own. However, doing balance exercises can help to prevent falls and improve a person’s stability, helping them to feel more confident and independent both in and outside their home. There are several balance exercises for seniors that can be done at home with ease. Below, we have outlined just a few that could help you improve balance:
To perform side steps, start by standing up straight with your legs together. Then step sideways by moving your left leg to the side slowly, followed by your right leg once you have placed your left leg down firmly on the ground. As you move, slightly bend your knees and try to avoid dipping your hips. Do this 10 times and change direction, repeating the process another 10 times while moving to the right instead. You can also perform side steps by crossing over your legs instead of placing them back together every time you do a step – check out the video below for a demonstration of this. Side steps are a simple and effective exercise that can help strengthen your legs and improve your overall stability.
Heel to Toe Walking
To do this exercise, begin by standing with your feet together. Then, slowly move your right foot forward, placing your heel directly in line with your left big toe as it touches the ground. Repeat this process with your left foot, placing your heel down straight in line with your right big toe. While you are doing this exercise, make sure you are looking forward and not down at your feet and use your body to sense where your feet are and should be placed. Perform five-10 of these steps if possible. If you find that you are struggling to stay upright, place your hand on a wall close by to help you gain initial stability, taking it off when you feel comfortable enough on your own. Performing heel to toe walking is a great way to gain confidence and improve your balance.
Reverse Leg Raises
To perform reverse leg raises, stand behind a stable chair and grip the top of it to help you balance. Then, take a deep breath and slowly begin to raise your right leg behind you, making sure you keep it as straight as possible by not bending your knee. As you are lifting it upwards, exhale slowly. Try to remain upright by not leaning forward. Once you have lifted your leg as far as is comfortable, place it back down on the ground and repeat this motion using your left leg. Alternate between your legs between 10 and 15 times, continuing to grip the chair for balance throughout. Reverse leg raises will help strengthen your glutes and improve your posture.
To do step ups, you can use an exercise board, or if you don’t have one of these, a small step near a wall or railing can also be used. Start by placing your right leg on to the step. Then, lift your left leg up to join your right leg, standing with your feet together. Finally, place your right leg back down, followed by your left leg so that you are back to the position you started in. Repeat this process between 10-15 times and place your hand on to the wall or railing for extra stability throughout if needed. To do single step ups as shown in the video below, start by standing on the step and place your right leg down on to the ground below. Then simply lift it back up without moving your left leg at all. Do this five times and then switch to your left leg, repeating the process on this side for another five steps, again placing your hand on a nearby wall or rail for extra support.
To improve your balance, perform these exercises between two-three times a week or more if you feel comfortable doing so. Additionally, inform your doctor if you are planning to carry out regular balance exercises as they may be able to determine whether this is the best type of exercise for you and if so, what exercises, in particular, may benefit you. To discover more about exercise for elderly, be sure to check out the other articles in our Senior Exercise Series or visit our health page for more information.