One of the challenges seniors struggle with as they age is balance…Luckily, there are several solutions towards balance issues including walking sticks. However, fun balance exercises for elderly remain one of the best and most natural ways to stabilize balance when you hit the golden years
Why Are Balance Exercises For Seniors Important?
Poor balance is often blamed for the increased number of fall-related injuries in senior citizens
And it’s caused by the inevitable decline in muscle mass, bone density, and joint mobility as you get older
However, by gradually improving an elder’s ability to control body posture and steady their gait, balance exercises for seniors goes a long way in reducing falls and potentially serious injuries.
In addition, dynamic balance exercises for elderly can also be beneficial in many other ways including:
1. Improved Coordination
Senior exercises for balance raises your ability to connect the dots and harmonize general body movement. So you can handle yourself better.
2. Confidence Boost
With better balance, you feel more secure and sure of yourself. Psychologically, this confidence can push you to take on tasks that were no-go zones in the past
3. Stronger Bones
Balance activities for seniors strengthen bones. In turn, you develop a higher resistance to fatigue.
4. Better Brain Function
Regular exercise helps keep your brain in top gear. You will also enjoy the improved memory.
5. More Muscle
With stronger and improved muscles, routine tasks such as strolling around the lawn or rising from your chair become hassle-free
Caution During Exercises For Senior Citizens.
Because of the changes the body has undergone with age, it’s important to start your balance exercises for senior citizens on a clean bill of health.
So, if possible, talk to your physician first. Also, keep the following in mind:
- Warm Up First
Prior to taking on any of the balance exercises for older people, warm up for between 5-10 minutes.
This ensures your muscles, heart, and body tissue are tuned ready for action
- Cool Down
Allow yourself a cooling-down period of between 5-10 minutes at the end of every session.
This rewinds the body back to its more normal state.
Drink plenty of fluids before and after exercise to shield your body from possible dehydration
On the same note, avoid exercising in extreme temperatures
- Stop If You Sense Any Discomfort
Pain or pressure anywhere in your body should be a red flag. Immediately stop and if possible, seek professional opinion.
Other danger signs include dizziness, abrupt weakness, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeat.
- Don’t Overstretch
You must know when to stop. Listen to your body and if it demands some rest, oblige. It will help your recovery and re-energizes your muscles for a new round
- Choose Wisely
You cannot do everything. In as much as all the exercises will do you good, start with what you feel comfortable in. You can take on the rest as you build your tolerance
- Take Breaks
Always take small breaks between activities. Otherwise, you risk burnout or a freak injury
- Wear The Right Footwear And Clothing
Wear fully supportive shoes and that match your chosen activity.
Similarly, your clothing should be loose enough and super comfortable to allow fluid movement.
The Top 15 Fun Balance Exercises For Elderly.
After spending over 2 weeks critiquing most of them, we have settled on the following as the top-15 fun balance exercises for elderly
1. Single Foot Pose
This is one of the most simple balance exercises for elderly and one of the best single leg balance exercises for older adults
Here are the steps:
- Stand right behind a solid chair (the type without wheels), holding onto it for support
- Lift one foot up. You are now standing on the other foot
- Try to maintain this posture for as long as possible
- Switch to the other feet when tired
2. Heel Toe Walk
Walking heels to toe is one of the best home based balance and posture exercises for seniors.
- This involves positioning the heel of one of your foot in a way that it will touch the toes of your other foot.
- Even if the heel and toes won’t completely touch, it’s important they be as close as possible
- Now, try to take around 15-20 steps in this walking style—the heel of your front foot touching the toes of your back foot.
- Keep your eyes fixed on an identified spot ahead of you to remain stable.
3. Balancing Wand
Some of the exercises for seniors to do at home need very little preparation to start
- Take for example the balancing ward- you just need a wand. And either of a cane, broom, or umbrella can work as a stick
- Then hold the wand in your stronger hand
- Focusing on the top tip of your wand, begin balancing until it falls
- You may alternate the hands to ensure you balance both halves of your body uniformly.
4. Balance Walk
Next in our standing balance exercises is the balance walk
This is what you do:
- Raise your arms sideways at shoulder height
- Again, pick a spot to focus on ahead of you to help you remain steady while walking
- Start walking in a B-line -one foot in front of the other
- While walking, lift the back leg then count to one before stepping
- Keep Alternating legs as you repeat this for at least 20 steps
5. Marching in Place
Functional dynamic standing balance activities are better because they bear fruits not long after starting.
Marching is one such balance exercise for elders.
- While standing upright, you raise your right knee to the highest angle possible
- Lower it, and then repeat this with your left leg.
- Lift and lower your legs for at least 20 times.
- If you feel you need to hold onto something, workout in front of the kitchen counter.
6. Squatting To a Chair
Squats also facilitate improving balance in older adults
This time, you seek to strengthen your hips and knees as one way of boosting your balance.
- First stand before a seat your legs hip-width apart. Your chest should be slightly raised.
- Now try to lower your hips down whilst bending your knees.
- You can choose to hover above your chair or just sit down- but don’t push your knees beyond your toes.
- Remaining in this posture, try to lean forward with your whole body, beginning from the hips. Then lower slowly towards the bottom before resuming your initial position.
This is also rated as one of the best balance exercises for seniors.
To be safe, you can attempt it while holding on to your kitchen counter
Walk a number of steps one way, then turn around and return to your starting point.
- Do this for several minutes each time reducing your grip until you are able to take some steps without any support
- Practice this until you crack it.
8. Shoulder Rolls
You can do shoulder rolls while seated or standing.
- Rotate your shoulders tenderly towards the ceiling, and then back down.
- Next, roll them forwards and then again down.
- Repeat as many times as possible.
9. Wall Pushups
Apart from exercises to improve balance in seniors, your elder will also need strength training exercises.
They help increase bone density, better heart condition, improve blood flow among other benefits
Wall pushups have been hailed as perfect for strength training in elders.
- Your senior should stand at arm’s length before a plain wall
- He should then lean forward slightly and place his palms flat on the facing wall maintaining the height & width of his shoulders.
- He will then gently push himself back -his arms remaining straight. His feet should be firmly planted on the ground throughout.
10. Body Circles
- Body circles steady your ankles.
- Stand only with your feet-shoulder width apart- hands on the sides.
- Ensure your body is straight and gently swing in a circle.
- Continue swaying for 1 minute, breathing normally throughout (inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth).
11. Back Leg Raises
You don’t need a balance exercises for seniors handout to learn back leg raises – they’re that straightforward.
And they’re super effective since they help in balance, build endurance, and also support your lower back.
- First, stand behind a seat. Next lift your right leg backwards (straight). Ensure you don’t bend the knees.
- Hold this position for several seconds then return your leg down. Do this for the remaining leg.
- For the best result, repeat this activity 15 times for each limb.
12. Side Leg Raise
If you mastered back leg raises, this should be easy peasy.
- Again you start by standing behind a seat. But you’ll be lifting each of the legs sideways.
- As we saw previously, maintain the raised position for some seconds. Then lower it delicately and treat you other leg the same (15 times each).
- Your toes should always face forward while your back remains straight.
13. Rock the Boat
Training how to improve balance for seniors can never be complete without knowing how to shift whole body weight around when in an awkward position.
That’s why rock the boat workouts are crucial.
- Stand both feet apart. The gap between them should equal the width of your hips.
- Check that both feet are firmly pressed into the floor. Now stand straight, ensuring your head is level.
- Shift your weight first to the right foot. Then, gently lift the left leg from the ground. Maintain this position for the longest possible time (but don’t exceed 30 seconds).
- Once through, slowly return your leg back to the surface. Transfer weight now to the other foot. Slowly lift your free leg. Proceed as above
- At the start do this exercise 5 times per side, then increase the repetitions slowly by slowly.
14. Eye Tracking
Some physical therapy balance exercises for elderly target specific body organs
For example, eye tracking concentrates around your seniors’ eyes. The logic is simple: if the balance is good, poor vision will still lead to falls.
- He should first hold his thumb out before their face-elbows bent. He should then move the concerned thumb towards the left, then again to the right- always reaching furthest comfortable range.
- During movement, instruct him to follow his thumb keenly using only his eyes. Later, permit him to track with his head..
- Beware that he may feel dizzy the first time so encourage him to move gradually
15. Clock Reach
The last activity I encourage when training how to improve balance in the elderly is this imagination exercise.
- Hold onto a seat with the left hand.
- Now imagine a clock –reading 12- is before you. Behind, assume its reading 6.
- This is what you do:
- Standing on the left leg, reach for 12 o’clock with the right arm. Move on to reach 3, and finally 6 o’clock.
- Do the same with your alternate side, obviously standing on the right leg.
- While in this, try to breathe normally- inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
Wrapping it Up
Fun balance exercises for elderly are by far one of the best remedies for balance problems.
I have highlighted 15 functional balance exercises to set you on your way to better balance and joyful living despite the advancement in years.
And provided you exercise the appropriate caution, balance and posture problems will be a thing of the past
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