Do you ever feel unsteady when you're walking? Do you need to push up with your hands to get out of a chair? Are you worried about falling?
Most adults don’t think about their balance until they fall. The fact is, balance declines begin somewhere between 40 to 50 years of age. The National Institute of Health reports that one in three people over 65 will experience a fall each year.
Balance training is an important and effective part of fall prevention. Performing safe home exercises can help strengthen your lower body to promote balance and reduce your overall fall risk, among other health benefits. Try these moves for 10 minutes every day and see how much you can improve your balance.
1. Standing March
Standing near a sturdy support, begin marching in place slowly for 20-30 seconds. As this becomes easier, change up the pace and surface you are marching on: from hardwood to carpet, foam pad, BOSU etc.
2. Standing 3-Way Kicks
Standing on 1 leg (with a soft, unlocked knee), slowly raise your other leg out in front of you. Keep your extended leg as straight as possible and return it to the center. Then gently lift the same leg out to the side and back down, and then extend your leg behind your body and back down. Perform as many as you can each way. Increase the difficulty of this exercise by removing the supporting surface.
Facing a countertop or wall (with your hands on the counter or wall for support as needed), step sideways in 1 direction with your toes pointed straight ahead until you reach the end of the wall or counter. Then, return in the other direction. As this becomes easier, add in the use of a resistance band at the knees or just above the ankles.
4. 1-Leg Stand
Stand on 1 leg as long as you are able, up to 30 seconds. Remember to remain near a sturdy support surface that you can hold on if needed. Alternate legs and try to do this 3-5 times on each leg. As this becomes easier, challenge yourself by doing other tasks while standing on 1 leg, such as brushing your teeth, talking on the phone, or while doing the dishes. Balance exercises can easily be integrated into your daily routine this way.
5. Sit to Stand and Stand to Sit
Rise out of a chair without using your arms to push up. If this is difficult at first, place a firm pad underneath you on the chair seat to raise you. As you return to a seated position, slowly lower yourself all the way back down and ease into your seat (rather than dropping into the chair). Perform as many times as you are able. This can easily be done while watching TV.
6. Heel-to-Toe Standing or Walking
Place 1 foot directly in front of the other, so the heel of the front foot touches the toe of the back foot. Hold this position for as long as you are able, or up to 30 seconds. As this becomes easier, try taking a few steps in this heel-to-toe format, as if you are walking on a tight rope. Remember to use something to hold on to for safety.
Falls are serious at any age, yet fractures are more likely as a person ages. Work on balance, and eat healthy for optimal bone density are essential for minimizing the ramifications of falls and fractures. Inevitably, aging changes our physiological abilities, yet lifestyle management can help prevent and minimize the risk.