We might not think about it often, but balance is an essential part of our daily lives. Having good balance can help you perform everyday activities, like walking down a flight of stairs, getting up from a chair, leaning over to tie your shoelaces or tending to your home garden. However, it’s normal for our balance to decline due to the natural effects of aging. Keep reading our expert guide to discover six low-impact balance exercises for seniors that can help you improve your balance.
Why Is Balance Important For Seniors?
Having good balance is important for our health and well-being, especially during our golden years. Let’s look at some key reasons why balance is particularly important for seniors:
- Lowers risk of falls: Adding balancing exercises for seniors to your routine can help reduce the risk of falling.
- Helps maintain independence: Research suggests that preserving your balance can help you remain independent for longer.
- Enhances quality of life: From making a hot cup of tea to watering your favorite plant or taking your dog out for a walk, keeping your balance can help you continue to enjoy the little things you love without needing assistance.
Assessing Balance And Coordination
Assessing your balance abilities can help you identify potential fall risks and develop methods to improve balance. Here are some key ways of assessing your balance:
- Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test: This test assesses a person’s ability to stand up from a seated position, walk a short distance, turn around, walk back and sit down again.
- Four-Square Step Test: This test assesses your ability to step over and around obstacles in a specific pattern. It’s often a good measure of dynamic balance and can help identify people who are at risk of falling.
- Self-Report Questionnaires: Structured questionnaires, like the Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale, can be used to self-report and assess one’s balance ability.
- Berg Balance Scale: This is a 14-item scale that assesses various aspects of balance, including sitting, standing and reaching. It’s often used in rehabilitation settings to track changes in balance over time.
6 Senior Balance Exercises
Senior balance exercises can help you improve your functional ability and get through the day without assistance. Here are six unique balancing exercises for seniors that you can add to your workout routine to help boost your balance. Before you try a new exercise, it’s a good idea to have something you can hold onto for balance, like a sturdy chair or even another person.
1. Single-Leg Stance
The single-leg stance exercise can help improve your balance by strengthening your leg muscles.
- Lean on a wall or support yourself with a sturdy chair.
- Lift one leg off the floor, bending it in front of you.
- Keep the knee of your standing leg straight.
- Hold for as long as you’re comfortable.
- Repeat as many times as you wish.
2. Heel-To-Toe Walk
The heel–to-toe-walk is a beginner-friendly balance exercise for seniors that can help you improve your balance and coordination.
- Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot.
- Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
- Pick a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
- Take a step.
- Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.
- Repeat as many times as you’re comfortable.
3. Standing Leg Raise
This exercise can help you strengthen your thighs, hips and backside, which can improve your balance and range of motion.
- Support yourself with a chair or lean on a wall.
- Keep your torso in a straight position.
- Slowly lift your right leg to your side.
- Slowly lower the leg.
- Repeat with your left leg.
- Do the exercise as many times as you’re comfortable.
4. Marching In Place
Just like normal marching, marching in place can be a great cardio exercise. What makes it even better is it requires minimal space to perform!
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed on your hips.
- Lift your right knee as high as you’re comfortable in a marching motion.
- Slowly lower your right knee and continue to alternate between your right and left knees in a rhythmic and controlled manner.
- Repeat as many times as you wish, taking breaks between reps.
5. Tree Pose
Derived from yoga, the tree pose exercise can help improve concentration, balance and strength.
- Stand tall and place all your weight on one foot.
- Place your hand on a wall or chair for support.
- Lift your other foot so it’s touching the inside of your standing leg.
- Hold for as long as you’re comfortable.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Perform the exercises as many times as you wish.
When combined with other balance exercises for seniors, the sit-to-stand exercise can help strengthen your lower body and improve your balance and mobility.
- Sit upright in a sturdy chair with your hands by your sides.
- Stand up and then sit back down in a slow, controlled motion. (You can use your hands for support if you need to.)
- Pause and repeat as many times as you’re comfortable.
While staying active is very important for your well-being, you should be careful when performing balance exercises for seniors to help reduce the risk of a fall or injury. Here are some tips for a safe and effective workout:
- Get ready: Start with slow, gentle stretches to allow your body to warm up.
- Listen to your body: If you experience any unusual sensations, stop the exercise immediately and get help.
- Wear comfortable clothes: Loose-fitting clothes can make it easier for you to move your joints freely during a workout.
- Have supervision: It’s best to have supervision at all times from someone who can assist in case of an emergency.
- Don’t do too much at once: We all have different fitness and ability levels, so take as many breaks between exercises as you feel necessary.
Alternatives To Balance Exercises
No matter your age, staying active can have a variety of benefits for your mind and body. If balance exercises for seniors aren’t your cup of tea, or you just want some variety, here are some fun, low-impact exercises that you can add to your routine:
- Water aerobics: Fun water aerobic exercises, like water-walking, flutter kicks and leg lifts can help you stay active without putting pressure on your joints.
- Strength training: From putting on clothes to unloading the dishwasher or making a sandwich, we need functional strength to perform most day-to-day activities. Fun, low-impact strength training exercises, like bicep curls, knee-lifts and calf raises, can help improve body strength and range of motion.
- Chair exercises: You don’t have to stand in order to work out. Chair exercises can be a great option if you prefer to workout in your chair or have mobility issues.
Wellness At StoryPoint Group Communities
At StoryPoint Group, we prioritize our residents’ mental and physical well-being — to better help them live happy and healthy lives. Our vibrant communities provide a wide variety of fun and enriching physical activities for residents to enjoy. We understand that ability and fitness levels can be different for each resident, so we offer fun exercises for everyone.
To learn more about StoryPoint Group, call us today at 1-844-275-9990 or schedule a tour of your local StoryPoint community.