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10 Simple Exercises to Improve Balance (and Prevent Falls)

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), every 1 in 4 people above 65 falls each year. An elderly individual gets treatments in the hospital's emergency room every 11 seconds. Every 19 seconds, there is a death of an older adult due to a fall.

Falls are among the leading causes of fatal injuries and trauma-related emergency admissions in hospitals among the elderly population. Falls result in over 2.8 million injuries treated in hospitals annually, including more than 800,000 in emergency departments and over 27,000 deaths.

There are several ways to prevent falls, such as getting enough sleep, staying physically active, and taking muscle relaxant medications or strengthening supplements. Exercising helps prevent falls because it improves your balance, strengthens your muscles, and increases flexibility. Here are the ten best exercises to improve balance and prevent falls!

     1. Walking Heel to Toe

Walking heel to toe is an excellent exercise to strengthen your legs. Regularly performing this exercise enables an older adult to walk more easily without the risk of falling. Here are the steps to perform this exercise.

  • Position your left foot in front of your right foot
  • Make sure your right foot's heel touches your left foot's toes
  • Move your right foot in front of the left and put your weight on the heel
  • Shift your weight to the toes and repeat the same step with your right foot

     2. Toe Lifts

pexels-alicia-zinn-105776You will again only need a chair or counter to perform this exercise. It is a mild exercise for seniors to improve their balance and prevent the risk of falls. The steps are:

  • Stand straight and keep your body comfortable
  • Put your arms in front of you
  • Lift yourself on your toes as high as you want
  • Now, gently lower yourself
  • Make sure you don't lean too far forward on the counter or chair
  • Repeat the steps at least 20 times or more depending on your stamina

     3. Single Limb Stance

Single Limb Stance is another excellent exercise to improve your balance. It focuses on your hips, lower back, and legs. The goal of this single-limb stance is to stand on one foot without holding onto the chair. To perform this exercise:

  • Stand comfortably behind a solid chair
  • Hold onto the back of your chair (You can skip this once you mastered the exercise)
  • Lift your left foot and balance on your right foot
  • Hold this position for 10-20 seconds or depending on your stamina
  • Switch to the other side (right foot)

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    4. Side Leg Raise

Side Leg Raise is an excellent balance improving exercise for older adults. To perform this exercise, all you need is a chair. To do this:

  • Stand behind a solid chair
  • Keep a slight distance between your feet
  • Lift your left leg slowly to the side
  • Make sure your spine is straight
  • Lower your left leg slowly
  • Repeat the steps 15-20 times for each leg
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     5. Marching in Place

Marching in place is a good balance exercise for older adults. If you think you can't do this without holding onto something, you can do this in front of a counter. The steps are easy:

  • Stand straight and comfortable
  • Elevate your left knees as high as you can
  • Lower your knee and then lift the other one
  • Repeat the steps at least 20 times

     6. Wall Pushups

Wall pushups strengthen your entire body and focus on your chest and arms. It increases your muscle flexibility and improves your balance. Here are the steps to do this exercise:

  • Stand near a wall and maintain a distance of one foot
  • Lean forward slightly and place your hands flat on the wall
  • Make sure your palms are at the width and height of your shoulders
  • Keep your feet firm on the floor and slowly bring your upper body toward the wall
  • Now, push yourself back while straightening your arms
  • Repeat at least 20 times or as your body permits without pain
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     7. Shoulder Rolls

It is a simple exercise for older adults to improve their body balance. You can do it standing or seated.

  • Sit on a chair or stand up straight
  • Rotate your shoulders toward the ceiling
  • Then come to the starting position
  • Roll your shoulders forward and then down

     8. Balancing Wand

Balancing wand is an exercise that you can do while seated. You will need a comfortable chair and a cane or stick. To perform this exercise:

  • Hold the stick's bottom to keep it flat on your palm
  • The primary goal of this workout is to keep the stick in an upright position
  • Switch the stick to your other hand to maintain balance

     9. Side Twist

Side twist is a useful exercise for seniors to strengthen their muscles, increase flexibility, and improve balance. Here is how you can do this:

  • Stand with two chairs on each side of your body
  • Keep your feet on the floor and maintain a distance of shoulder-width
  • Turn your head and upper body to touch the chair's one side
  • Now, turn again to touch the chair's other side

     10. Clock Reach

Get a good quality chair to perform this exercise. It is a psychological exercise, meaning you will use your imagination. For instance, you can think that you are standing in the center of the clock. The number 6 on the clock is behind, and the number 12 is in front of you. Here are the steps:

  • Elevate your left leg and extend your left arm so it points toward the number 12 on the clock
  • Now, move your arm toward the number 9 on the clock
  • Then, point it at the number 6, which is behind you
  • Bring your arm back to the number 9 and then to the 12
  • Keep your head straight the entire time
  • You can repeat the exercise with your right hand with the number 3 instead of 9

Having the right balance is crucial for people above 65. An improved balance is directly proportional to lower risks of falls. Likewise, you can perform various day-to-day activities, such as walking, sitting down, climbing stairs, etc. Exercises given above can improve balance and prevent falls. All these exercises are strength-training and focus on your upper and lower body. 

Let us know in the comments below - what is your favorite method to improve your balance? 

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