(Scroll down for exercise video)
Good balance is important for fall prevention in seniors and the elderly. It requires the ability to keep your center of gravity over your ankles when standing and walking.
I have made a great balance video that is fun and easy to do. All you need is a chair, comfortable loose fitting clothing, and a pair of smooth bottom shoes to wear so you won’t catch your feet. Read on then give it a try.
Activities that work on stressing our balance systems will add to our overall safety at home. Balance and mobility exercises are essential in any older adult exercise program.
As we go about our day we call on our body to keep us upright, maintain our equilibrium, anticipate obstacles and react to them, speed up and slow down, bend over and reach around corners.
These all require a flexible body, good posture, and continued awareness of maintaining our center of gravity over our base of support which is usually over out ankles. This is one of the most simple standing exercises.
Standing on one leg is an exercise that can be practiced anywhere you have a chair or counter to hold on to.
This exercise will strengthen your ankles and hips, which are vital in keeping us stable.
Fall prevention in the elderly and seniors is increasing in awareness especially in assisted care and independent living facilities. The more we can practice stressing our balance systems, the more stable we will become.
Give it a try!
Instructional Video: Fall prevention in the elderly – Single Limb Stance
Purpose of this exercise
- This exercise will help train your brain to become more aware of just where your center of gravity is located.
- It will also strengthen your ankles and hips for improved stability.
How to do it:
- Stand with feet together and arms at sides.
- Lift one leg and balance on the other.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
- Keep breathing normally, in through the nose and out through the mouth..
- Use a chair as a place to not only perform seated exercise but also to hold on to while standing. Hold on with your finger, one hand or two hands.
- Don’t close your eyes or hold your breath.
- Raise your arms out to the sides if you need more balance.
Take it up a notch:
- Lift chest and look straight ahead to make standing more challenging.
- Try adding a one pound ankle weight to one ankle.
You made it! You are doing your part for fall prevention in seniors and the elderly.
Watch These Essential Balance Exercise Videos
- A great place to begin is with the simplest standing balance exercise. Hold on to a chair and balance on one leg.
- This is a great place to begin to feel your center of gravity over your ankles. This is your goal, maintaining your center over your ankles.
- Try a few seconds balancing on each foot. Work up to a minute if you can. Then begin to hold on with one hand, then one finger and finally try to let go completely.
2. Eye tracking
- Move on to the other exercises with static standing exercises as you gain confidence including this exercise which targets your vision and vestibular system.
- This exercise can sometimes make you dizzy. If this happens, stop the exercise. Try it again with smaller head movements next time.
- Gradually you will learn to do it correctly.
3. Clock reach
- Make sure to hold on to a chair when attempting this exercise to prevent falls in the elderly. Don’t reach back too far if you have pain in your shoulder.
- (Use your one pound wrist weight here to increase your workout.)
- Also hold on to a chair when trying this exercise for elderly balance problems. Let go of the chair for a few seconds at a time if you feel comfortable.
- Look up from your feet when balancing and pick a spot at eye level in front of you to improve falls in elderly. Lift your chest and bring your shoulders back.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
- This is a fun exercise and easy to do. Use a cane, broom or even an umbrella. Don’t have too much fun with these balance exercises for elderly!
- Try this one next to a counter so you can hold on when performing knee marching. This is also a great cardio exercise and for leg muscle weakness.
8. Body circles
- This exercise for improving balance can be a little tricky. Keep a chair nearby if you are uncomfortable without one. Make sure your knees and hips are kept straight when you circle.
9. Heel to toe
- The moving exercises are the most difficult. Only try this balance exercise when you have become good at the preceding exercises.
- (If you have masking or painters tape, place an 8 to 12 foot piece in a straight line on the carpet or floor. This will allow you to maintain a straighter line when performing the walking exercises.)
- Seniors who dance will be more familiar with these balance exercises. Try it in your kitchen holding on to the counter.
- Walk several steps in one direction, turn around and walk back. Continue for several minutes. Gradually hold on less and less until you can take a few steps without holding on.
- It may take a while, but keep practicing…you’ll get it sooner or later!
- This series of stepping exercises are very challenging. You may have a stable family member demonstrate these for you first.
12. Dynamic walking
- Try these only when you feel confident and have a helper in the home.
- Give them a try when you are stronger and more sure of yourself. These exercises are great to do with someone else.
- Holding hands with a stable family member will make these exercises easier and safer. (This is where you may use your pad of paper or a small book when walking.)