June 1, 2021/Senior Health

Worried About Falling? Try These Exercises to Improve Your Balance

Build strength to avoid injuries from trips, slips

Senior balancing on one foot with hands above head in a living room

More than 3 million older Americans land in the emergency room every year as a result of a fall, making it the leading cause of injury and injury death for adults age 65+.

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Exercises that improve balance can help you reduce your chances of falling. A few minutes a day is all it takes to gain steadiness and move with more confidence, says exercise physiologist Christopher Travers, MS.

“As you age, you begin to lose muscle mass and strength, and your reaction time begins to slow as well,” explains Travers. “These are all things that affect your balance. As a result, you’re more susceptible to trips and falls.”

Doing daily exercises can help you improve your lower body strength and gain steadiness. Here are four balance exercises you can do anytime, anywhere, in about five minutes.

Single leg stance

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Bend one knee, raising your foot behind you. Hold the pose for 10 seconds before returning your foot to the ground.
  3. Repeat with the other leg to complete a single set.
  4. If needed, place a sturdy chair in front of you to hold for support.

Tandem stance and walk

  1. Stand with one foot directly in front of the other so that the toes of one foot touch the heel of the other.
  2. Work to maintain your balance as you progress forward, with your heel touching your toes at the completion of each step.
  3. Hold for one second after each step.
  4. Take three steps with each foot for the set.

Single leg stance – forward

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Lift one leg out in front of your body and hold for 10 seconds while keeping your balance.
  3. Maintain a slightly bent knee on your stance side (planted leg).
  4. Repeat with the other leg to complete a single set.

Single leg stance – lateral

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Slowly lift one leg to the side of your body and hold the position for 10 seconds while working to maintain your balance.
  3. Keep a slightly bent knee on your stance side (planted leg).
  4. Repeat with the other leg to complete a single set.

Work with your doctor to improve your balance

No matter how simple these exercises may seem, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program. They may have other suggestions for ways you can improve your balance and stay active as you age.

Once you get the go-ahead, dedicate yourself to doing these exercises every day. They can help you stay on your feet for the long term.

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