Dizziness and imbalance, resulting in falls, are common causes of injury and death in the elderly people. Fall-related injuries can have serious consequences, often limiting the activities of the affected person.
What Causes Loss of Balance in Seniors
Although the chances of balance problems increase in people as they grow old, age is not the only reason behind these problems. Several systems of human body, involving the bones, muscles, joints, and vision along with the nerves, blood vessels, heart, and the balance organs in the inner ear should function properly so you can have a normal balance.
A multitude of health problems can affect the ability of the elderly people to remain steady. Medical conditions like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease can cause unsteadiness and prevent you from moving freely, often leading to falls and injuries. Engaging in balance exercises can help prevent falls by improving your ability to control the body’s position and maintaining physical activity.
5 Standing Exercises to Improve Balance and Coordination in Seniors
These simple exercises can be done at home without any gym equipment and may be combined with flexibility and strength exercises.
1. One-Legged Stance
- Stand behind a stable chairand hold on to it.
- Lift up one foot and balance on the other.
- Hold this position for about 15 seconds.
- Do it with the other leg.
As you master the basic technique, try doing the balance exercise holding the position for about a minute and without grabbing the chair.
2. Rock the Boat
- Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, pressing both your feet into the ground.
- Transfer your body weight to the right foot and slowly raise the left leg off the floor.
- Hold this position for about 20-30 seconds.
- Return to the original position and then transfer the weight to the left foot.
- Lift the right leg and hold the position.
- Do five repetitions per side.
Make sure to have someone monitor your movement to avoid putting excessive stress in your muscles. As you gain experience, increase the number of reps.
3. Heel-Toe Walk
- Put your right foot in front of the toes of your left foot so that the heel of the leading foot and the toes of your rear foot touch.
- Take a step by putting the heels of your left foot in front of the toes of the right, with the body weight on the heel.
- Transfer the weight from your heel to the toes.
- Repeat this for 20 steps with your right and left feet.
This exercise helps in strengthening your legs, enabling you to be steady and walk without falling.
4. Back Leg Raises
- Standing behind a chair, gradually lift your right leg backward without pointing your toes or bending your knees.
- Hold this position before bringing the leg down.
- Do the same steps for your left leg.
- Repeat the exercise 12-15 times for each leg.
It works as a balancing, as well as a leg- and lower-back-strengthening exercise.
5. Clock Reach
- Grabbing a chair in front of you, stand upright.
- Raise your right leg backward and extend the right arm to point it forward (towards the imaginary number 12).
- Point your arm sideways to your right (imaginary number 3) and then backward (imaginary number 6).
- Bring your arm back to the number 3 position, and to the number 12 position.
- Do the same steps with your left arm.
- Repeat it twice on each side.
2 Easy Seated Balance And Core Exercises for Seniors
These exercises not just help in improving your balance but also increasing your core strength while supporting the lower back.
1. Calf Stretches
- Sit on the ground, with your legs stretched forward and a towel in your hand.
- Loop the towel around the sole of the right foot by holding both the ends.
- Pull it towards you and keep your knee straight.
- Hold the position for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat three to four times for each leg.
This exercise can also be used for reducing knee pain caused by an injury.
2. Knee Lifts
- Sit straight on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Slowly raise the right knee towards you as far as you can.
- Hold the position for about 5 seconds.
- Lower your right leg back to the original position.
- Repeat the movement with your left knee.
- Do 8-10 repetitions per leg.
Aside from the above exercises, some easy yoga poses like the mountain pose and the tree pose can be used for improving balance, agility, and posture in the older adults. Physical therapy exercises using a stability ball and rocker board can also be included in your balance workout program. Before starting any exercise routine, consult your health care provider and find out which of the above exercises suit you the best.