As we age, our bodies start to lose their ability to maintain balance. Muscle strength, reaction time, and coordination decline with age, all of which affect balance. Many diseases that are prevalent in seniors like Arthritis, Diabetes causing nerve damage, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Low blood pressure can affect balance. Apart from chronic illnesses, other reasons that make seniors more prone to falls are impaired vision and side-effects of certain medications. Seniors are at higher risk for falls because of impaired balance. And falls are the leading cause of injuries and fractures in the senior population.
Balance exercises focus on muscles that assist in maintaining upright posture and equilibrium. Here are the ten best balance exercises for seniors.
- Weight Shifts-Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight equally distributed on both legs. Now shift your weight onto your right foot, lifting your left foot off the floor. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Then repeat on another side. Do five times on each side.
- Tandem Stance-Stand one foot directly in front of the other and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Repeat with the other foot in front.
- Single-Leg Stance-Stand behind a sturdy chair and hold on to the back of it. Lift your right foot and balance on your left foot. Hold that position for 30seconds to a minute, then switch feet.
- Tightrope Walk– Raise your arms out straight from your sides till shoulder level and walk in a straight line, heel to toe, by placing one foot directly in front of the other. Keep your head straight. Take 20 to 25 steps. This simple exercise without any equipment helps in improving posture and balance.
- Lateral Stepping-Position your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly with your bodyweight evenly distributed over both feet. Step sideways onto your right for 10-15 steps and return to starting position.
- Seated Knee Extension– Sit in a chair with your back straight and your arms at your sides. Now straighten your right knee and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on left leg. Do 10-15 repetitions on each side.
- Seated Marches-Sit in a chair with your back straight and your arms at your sides. Alternately lift your feet into marching. Hold each lift for 2 seconds. Repeat 20 times on each leg.
- Back Leg Raise-Stand behind a chair for support. Slowly lift your right leg straight back. Do not bend your knees or point your toes. Hold for a count of 5, then gently bring your leg back down. Repeat ten times on each side.
- Side Leg lift-Stand sideways to a chair for support. Slowly lift your leg out sideways. Do not tilt your torso. Hold for a count of 5, then gently bring your leg back down. Repeat ten times on each side. Once comfortable, you can wrap a weight around the ankle.
- Sit to Stand– Sit on a sturdy chair with feet resting on the floor, about hip-distance apart. Without using assistance from hands, push yourself to stand, extending your knees. Now lower yourself back to the seated position. Repeat ten times.
Tips for doing Balance Exercises safely-
- Maintain good upright posture while doing balance exercises. Plant your feet firmly onto the floor and distribute your weight evenly on both feet.
- Focus your gaze on a fixed point straight ahead.
- Avoid fast movements, including quick turns or changes in position.
- Start slowly and within your capabilities. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness during any of the exercises, stop that exercise.
- Always do exercises safely with a chair or something to hold onto nearby.
- Consistency is the key. Do balance exercises three times/ week.
HAPPY EXERCISING! STAY FIT!
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