Though balance is bound to decline with age, balance exercises for the elderly help in limiting injuries from falls. Balance problems can be caused by:
- Poor vision
- Weakness in legs and hips
- Poor posture which leads to spinal deterioration
- Low blood pressure which causes dizziness thus making it easier to fall
How Balance Works
Whatever you do in your day to day activities requires balance. Cooperation between your brain, muscular tissues and nervous system is essential to maintain balance. The body keeps us from falling by using a combination of:
- Visual cues
- Internal spinal alignment
- Inner ear
Regain Your Balance
Inactivity causes our balance system to become poorer because it is not challenged. It takes practice to keep your balance because it does not come naturally. If you are on any medication, make sure you consult your doctor before doing any balance exercises. Some medicines might cause serious side effects and this might worsen your balance. If you feel that your balance problems are a result of something more serious such as vertigo, you need to visit a doctor.
Balance Exercises For The Elderly That Can Be Done At Home
Before beginning any balance exercises you should make sure that you are standing next to a table or chair. This gives you something to hold on to in case you lose your footing. Here are simple exercises that you can get started on.
This exercise builds strengths in your hips and thighs.
- Stand close to a chair with its back near your left side
- Place your left hand on it and raise your left knee until it is slightly bent
- Focus on balancing and take deep breaths
- As you exhale, you should bend the right knee, keeping your left foot off the ground. Do not bend your hips and waist.
- As you inhale, hold the knee in that position for a count of three while still holding on to the chair
- While exhaling, place your leg back on the floor.
- Repeat the steps several times while alternating legs
Sit to stand
You will need a chair to perform this exercise. A chair with arms can be used for balance but do not use your arms to lift your body off the chair – use your leg muscles.
- Start in a sitting position with your buttocks pushed forward rather than backwards.
- Inhale deeply and when exhaling, lift your body up using only your leg muscles. Lean your torso forward and use the chair for support.
- When you stand up straight, breath deeply.
- Be sure your legs are in contact with the chair, sit down slowly and exhale.
- Repeat the exercise several times.
Side leg rises
This exercise helps in building leg and hip strength.
- Stand behind a chair with your back straight.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart and place them flat against the floor. Hold onto the chair for support.
- Inhale deeply and when exhaling lift your right leg sideways about six to twelve inches off the floor.
- Hold this position for a few seconds as you inhale. Exhale and return to the original position.
- Repeat the exercise several times
These exercises can be performed daily or every other day. It won’t take more than ten minutes and can be a great benefit.