Balance exercises for seniors is a good way to prevent falls. Do you know one in four Americans ages 65 and above falls each year and one in five falls lead to a serious injury?
Preventing falls is very important for seniors. Some people who afraid of falls choose to stay at home and doing fewer activities. However, people become even weaker and easier to fall if they don’t exercise. Doing balance and strength exercises regularly will prevent old people from falling down.
Hence, we select 20 best balance and strength exercises for seniors to do at home. It is easy, fun and effective. However, you should consult your doctor before to see if these exercises are a good fit for your condition.
What causes falls in the elderly?
Our brain will collect information from our vestibular system, eyes, joints, and musculoskeletal system to help us keep balance. Thus, any damage or sickness related to these organs or systems may cause falls. There are a few of common reasons why people tend to fall:
- Chronic health conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, nerve system problems may cause dizziness.
- Poor vision and hearing loss will affect balance.
- Muscle weakness due to the lack of exercise and ages makes it hard to keep balance.
- Some medications have side effects on keeping balance.
- If people don’t get enough Vitamin D, their bones will become fragile and weak.
- Environmental factors such as the wet floor, high heels, dim light, and inappropriate walkers will make people fall easily.
How to prepare for balance and strength exercises?
It is proven that doing balance exercises will help seniors improve their balance and strength. But, when doing it, seniors should watch for a few issues in advance.
- Ask your doctor if you can do these exercises or not.
- Be patient. Doing the exercise smoothly and improve your ability step by step.
- Choose a place where the floor is even, clean and dry.
- Put a sturdy and armless chair beside you. It is not only for seated exercises, you can also hold on to it while standing.
- Buy yourself a pair of smooth bottom shoes.
- A tennis or rubber ball for gripping exercises.
- Painters tape will help you to walk in a straight line.
- Prepare a notebook or paper to record the progress.
- Make sure the elderly who are fragile or new to these exercises is supervised by someone
18 Balance and strength exercises for seniors
Exercise 1: Eye tracking
This exercise is trying to increase balance for older adults by using vision.
Put your thumb in front of you with your bent elbow and move it to the left as comfortable as you can then back to the front.
Then move your thumb from the front to the right as comfortable as you can.
Note that your head shouldn’t move while doing this exercises. If you feel dizzy, stop it.
Exercise 2: Use Non-dominant Hand
This is a simple way to improve balance and strength for elderly.
Try to brush your tooth, open the doors or do something else with your non-dominant hand.
Exercise 3: Hand Grip
If you have a problem with picking something up or hand strength weakness, this exercise would be a great choice.
Find yourself a tennis or rubber ball and squeeze it as hard as you can.
Exercise 4: Balancing Wand
You can do this exercise on your seat or stand up. Use a stick such as a cane, an umbrella or a broomstick and put the bottom of the stick on the palm of your hand.
Try your best to keep the stick upright as long as possible and then change your hands to do it again.
Exercise 5: Standing On One Foot
Stand behind the chair and grip it for security. You can try to let go completely if your balance is good enough later.
Stand on one foot (your leg should flatly bend) and hold the position up for 10 seconds. Repeat it for 10 times
Change the leg and do it again for 10 times.
At last, repeat 10-15 more times with each leg.
Exercise 6: Single Limb Stance with Arm
This is an exercise for elderly to improve physical coordination.
Stand with your feet together and lift your left hand over your head.
Raise your foot smoothly and hold on for 10 seconds.
Change your arm and do it again.
Exercise 7: Clock Reach
This is an interesting exercise. Imagine that you are standing in the center of a clock with 12 in front of you.
Place your right hand on the chair. Raise your left arm and make it point to 12 while lifting your left leg.
Point your arm to number 3, number 6, number 3, and number 12.
Do the same exercise on the other side.
Exercise 8: Side Leg Raise
Stand behind your chair and grab it.
Make your feet apart slightly and keep your body straight all the way.
Raise your right leg to the side and lower the leg slowly.
Repeat the exercise in the left leg.
You can do this exercise 10-15 times per leg.
Exercise 9: Back Leg Raises
It is a great way to improve balance and strength for seniors. Similar to the side leg raise exercise. This exercise is to raise your leg straight back.
What you should note here is that your knees can’t be bent and toes can’t be pointed.
Raise your leg straight back and try not to lean forward.
Hold that position for 1 second and lower your leg smoothly.
Change to the other leg and do it again.
Exercise 10: Body circles
This is another fun exercise for elderly to improve balance.
In order to sure safety, always put a chair beside you.
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and sway in a circle for 1 minutes.
Exercise 11: Marching In Place
This is one of the best balance and strength exercises for seniors.
Raise your knees as high as comfortable and lower it smoothly.
20 times for each leg.
Always make a chair beside you for griping.
Exercise 12: Staggered stance
This exercise would be challenging at the first but a good way to test and improve your balance.
Stand straight with your hands aside.
Step forward one of your legs and keep the position for 10 seconds.
Change to another leg and do the practice again.
Exercise 13: Wall Pushup
This is a good exercise to improve upper body strength for older adults.
Stand in front of a wall with an arm length.
Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart then lean forward to make your palm in touch with the wall flatly.
Slowly put your body toward the wall but always keep the feet planted and push your body back to the original gesture.
You can do it 15-20 times once.
Exercise 14: Shoulder Rolls
Rotate your shoulder up to the ceiling and back to down.
Change the rotate direction and do it again.
You can do it with two arms together or alone.
Exercise 15: Toe Lifts
This exercise is one of the popular and simple balance and strength exercises for seniors. Stand straight and lift your heels.
Make your leg supported only by your toes and maintain the position for a few seconds and lower the heels smoothly.
Exercise 16: Grapevine
This Use the tape to make a straight line on the floor and stand at the beginning of the line.
Step across in front of your left leg with your right leg till the end of the line.
Reverse and cross your right leg behind your left leg till the beginning of the line.
It may be a bit difficult at first but you will find it is effective and interesting later.
Exercise 17: Walking Heel to Toe
This is another popular exercise for seniors to improve balance.
Stand in front of the tape and place heel of one foot in front of toes of the other foot.
Step forward in a straight line and always keep your heel in front of the toe.
Exercise 18: Elbow Extension
It is a good way to improve upper arm strength.
Find a bottle of water and grip it in one of your hands.
Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart
Raise that toward the ceiling with the palm facing inward and the support of the other hand.
Bend the raised arm at the elbow and bring the water weight toward the shoulder.
Maintain the position for 1-2 seconds and turn the arm back to the ceiling position and repeat it 10-15 times for each arm.
These are the best balance and strength exercises for seniors. They will prevent you from fall and stay active and independent. However, don’t forget to ask your doctor before starting these exercises. You can also use some equipment to strengthen your muscle such as a small pedal exerciser or play some interesting games.