Elderly people are relatively at high risk for accidents involving slips and falls; that’s why it is essential to keep your balance well-trained as you age through various exercises. A fall can result in severe injuries, such as fractures, causing long standing pain, lower quality of life, disability, and in severe cases, even death. Good balance significantly helps prevent injuries and saves a person from all these problems.
Research has also shown the significant role balance exercises play in an older person’s quality of life. The improved balance training in elderly will naturally increase your body’s ability to control itself during challenging situations.
Certain conditions, such as cardiovascular problems, stroke, diabetes, or problems with vision, thyroid, nerves, or blood vessels, can cause dizziness and other balance problems. Balance exercises can effectively help build strength and improve elderly people’s stability, posture, and coordination. These benefits reduce the chance of falling or bumping into things that cause severe injuries.
There are multiple types of exercise that senior people can do, which would certainly help them improve their body balance and stability.
Single Limb Stance
It is best to begin with simple balance exercises for seniors. Single limb stance is a simple yet effective exercise for seniors that can significantly improve their body balance. To do this exercise, try to stand behind a solid, steady chair and hold on to the back. Then balance your right foot on the left one.
Stay in that position for as long as possible, then switch feet. The main goal of this exercise should be to stand on one foot without holding onto the chair and holding up that pose for more than a minute.
Walking Heel to Toe
Walking heel-to-toe exercises strengthens your legs, allowing you to walk without tripping or falling. For this exercise, place your right foot in front of the left one so that the right foot’s heel touches the top of the toes of the left foot.
Afterward, move your left foot to your right while putting the weight on your heel. After some time, shift your weight to your toes. Try to repeat the same procedure with your left foot as well.
Rock the Boat
Rocking the boat is another exercise in order to improve balance. For this exercise, stand with your feet apart, and the space between them should be the same width as your hips. Then make sure that your feet are pressed against the ground firmly.
Stand straight, with your head level and then transfer your weight to your right foot after slowly lifting your left leg off the ground. Manage to hold this exact position for as long as possible but not more than 30 seconds.
After that, slowly put your foot back, then try to transfer your body weight to that foot. Try to do this exercise for balance at least five times per side, but with time you can increase repetitions.
Side Leg Raise
For side leg raise, you need a chair for support. Stand behind the chair with your feet a bit apart. Then slowly lift your right leg and keep your back straight and your toe facing forward. After that, slowly lower your right leg. Try to repeat this exercise at least 10 to 15 times for each leg.
This is another simple exercise for seniors that can help improve their body balance. One can do either while sitting or standing. Rotate your shoulders slightly up to the ceiling, then back and down. Next, do the same procedure, but roll them at different angles, like forward or backward.
These balance exercises for elderly people can also be performed while sitting or standing. To do calf stretches, stand facing a wall with your hands at eye level. Then place your left leg behind the right leg. After that, keep your left heel on the floor and bend the right knee. Try to stay in this position for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat this procedure two to four times for each leg.
This balance or strength training exercise for seniors also requires a wall. To do wall pushups, stand at arm’s length in front of a wall. Then lean slightly forward and put your palms flat on the wall at the width and height of your shoulders. Try to keep your feet planted as you slowly bring your body toward the wall. Then gradually push yourself back so that your arms are straightened. Do it at least 20 times.
Benefits of Balance Exercises
Balance exercises, in addition to improving the balance of elderly people, also impart multiple other benefits, such as:
Increased Muscle Mass
Just as younger people work out to build muscle mass, older individuals who exercise also enjoy this perk. Older individuals with strong arms can avoid tripping or falling, and good muscle tone also protects the joints and bones to prevent severe injuries caused due to accidents.
Better Cognitive Function
Another benefit of balance exercises is better cognitive functionalities. People who exercise daily have better brain function. Exercise promotes the release of specific neurotransmitters that help keep the brain healthy even during stress.
Balance exercise also helps elderly people sleep more soundly, which essential for older individuals is struggling with disturbed sleep patterns. Exercise significantly helps seniors maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Furthermore, going outside and getting sun while exercising is much more beneficial for seniors.
Quick reflexes can save people from falling, but their reaction times get slower as individuals get older. Certain balance exercises help increase reaction time considerably by strengthening muscles.
Resistance and weight-bearing exercises can strengthen the bones. When the ligaments are pulled against the periosteum of the bone during contraction, this gentle pulling causes bones to become denser and stronger. Denser bones have minimum chances of breaking even after a fall.
Reduce the Risk of Falling
All the above physical benefits of balanced exercises are ultimately translated into a reduced risk of falling. In addition to the general health benefits that these exercises provide, a reduced risk of being injured by a fall is an essential consideration. Falls can severely impact the health of senior citizens, but the best way to prevent them is to do regular balance-related exercises. These exercises will impart additional health benefits and enhance the quality of life of senior citizens.