Balance exercises for older adults

balance exercises for older adultsFalls can lead to significant injury, disability and even death in older adults, in fact, falls are the leading cause of deaths from injury for Australians aged 65 and over. On average, one in three people aged 65 and over will fall at least once per year. Rates of falls are higher among older women than older men and continue to increase with age.

Falls threaten the health and wellbeing of older people; once they have had a fall their confidence can be seriously affected and they may develop a fear of falling. Fear of falling can lead to avoidance of physical activity and other activities they normally do, like walking to the local shops. A negative cycle can then develop where an older adult may become less active, causing them to become physically weaker, putting them at higher risk of falls and reducing their quality of life and independence.

Balance can be trained and improved just like other areas of fitness. You can complete balance exercises anytime, anywhere, as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold on to if you become unsteady. In the beginning, use a chair or the wall for support and safely.

Balance Exercises

These 5 exercises below are aimed at improving your balance by challenging your balance, proprioception and ability to clear tripping hazards.

 

Standing on One Foot

Improve your balance by standing on one foot.

1.    Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance.

2.    Hold position for up to 10 seconds.

3.    Repeat 10 to 15 times.

4.    Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg.

 balance exercises for older adults
Walking Heel to Toe

Improve your balance by walking heel to toe.

1.    Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.

2.    Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.

3.    Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot.

4.    Repeat for 20 steps.

 balance exercises for older adults
Balance Walk

Improve your balance with the balance walk.

1.    Raise arms to sides, shoulder height.

2.    Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.

3.    Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other.

4.    As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward.

5.    Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

 balance exercises for older adults
Step over – caution tripping hazards – start with the assistance of a friend or family member

 Improve balance by stepping over static items

1.     Collect a few soft items like stuffed toys or small cushions and lay them out in a line, with space in between.

2.     Practice taking nice, high steps and slowly stepping over one item at a time, alternating legs

3.     Once you have made it to the end of the line, turn around and walk back.

 balance exercises for older adults
Side step over – caution tripping hazards – start with the assistance of a friend or family member

 Improve balance by stepping over static items

1.     Follow the same steps as the first step over drill, but this time travel sideways and step over the items with one leg at a time

2.     Once you have made it to the end of the line, continue facing the same direction and walk back with the opposite leg leading.

 balance exercises for older adults

 

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