As we get older, the way we walk changes, so naturally, our balance might be affected. While it’s a normal part of the aging process, it can sometimes point to a more serious health condition that needs to be checked out. However, if your doctor suggests working out more to improve muscle coordination and balance, consider these exercises to get you moving.
Why Should Older Adults Work On Their Balance?
Staying active and eating healthy as you age can help slow down the effects of aging. You can support your active goals with a pair of one of our choice picks for running shoes plus Orange Insoles that can support proper body alignment.
Still, people over 65 are not only at a higher risk of falling, but their falls more often result in serious injuries. Further muscle loss occurs at older ages as well- making mobility more of a challenge. Osteopenia and osteoporosis (bone loss conditions that usually occur in older people) can contribute to poor posture and balance as well.
Exercise #1: Lateral Lunge
Don’t let the name intimidate you! Lateral lunges are low-impact and will help you feel how strong each leg is. With your shoulders back and hands clasped at your chest, move one leg out so that your feet are far apart. You shouldn’t try to go for the splits- it should be comfortable.
Next, slowly bend that same leg at the knee and move back up to a standing position. Your other leg should be totally straight when you lunge. If you can’t bend very far- that’s ok! The goal is to build up thigh muscles and build your sense of balance. Use a chair or table for support if needed.
Exercise #2: Side-to-side lunge
If returning to a standing position after a lunge is difficult, try lunging side-to-side. Simply alternate sides after every lunge.
Exercise #3: Tightrope Walk
Make a line on the floor or lay down some type of straight and flat object. Stand at one end with your hands on your hips and walk without ever stepping off of the line. To start, the line should be long enough for your to take at least 15 steps. Feel free to increase it when you feel ready.
Exercise #4: Planks
Both high and low planks are great for your posture since they require you to keep your back straight and build strength in your abdominals. Here’s how to do a low plank: kneel down and place your forearms on the ground and palms down. Stretch out your legs behind you and balance on your toes. Your butt should be kept low and your elbows should be directly below your shoulders. This is what a proper plank looks like.
Some people prefer high planks, but they can be harder on your wrists. The same position should be kept, but instead of lying on your forearms, you elevate yourself on your palms. Your shoulders should be directly above your hands and your back should be kept neutral.
Exercise #5: Single leg stand
Be sure to hold onto a table or sturdy chair when trying this one. Make sure your body stands tall and straight and bend one knee to about calf level. Hold this for at least 15 seconds and repeat about 15-20 times each leg.
If you got that down, try holding it for longer or lifting your leg further up. Slowly and steadily, you may be able to hold the lifted leg with one hand.
Exercise #6: Heel Raises
Here, you’ll have to focus on muscles that are so often neglected: calves. With a wall or table for support, stand on the balls of your feet and hold for a couple of seconds. Slowly place your heels back on the ground. Repeat 10-15 more times, rest, and do a couple more sets. Doing various kinds of calf stretches like these ones will keep them from tightening up and negatively affecting your balance.
Exercise #7: Flamingo
With a chair or table support, lift one leg so that your knee bends at hip height. Hold this position for 15 seconds with a straight back. To make it more difficult, try touching the foot of your lifted leg.
Keep in mind that a huge part of keeping good balance is maintaining good posture throughout the day. Yoga can absolutely improve your posture if this is an area you really need to work on. It’s also a great option for seniors who often need to go at their own pace when it comes to strength training and stretching. With time and patience, you can feel firm on your feet once again!