Why Should Senior Citizens Perform Balance Exercises: Key Benefits for Healthy Aging

Who hasn’t had a few falls?

I guarantee that we have all hit the ground a time or two over our lifetime.

As a child or teenager, you probably fell, got back up, dusted yourself off, and just laughed about it.

Your fall was probably caused by tripping, getting pushed down, being a daredevil, or just being plain ol’ clumsiness.

Well, now that we’re older, our falls may still be due to just being clumsy, but unfortunately, they’re more likely due to poor balance or vision, weakness, or dizziness.

It takes a whole lot longer to get up and brush yourself off—of course, some of this is due to looking around to see if anyone saw you!?

We might even be down for days!

The good news is that there are things that we can do to decrease our risk of falls.

No one has time for a fall and possible broken hip or, worse yet, a head injury!

There are some simple exercises that can help us regain our balance, by strengthening the muscles supporting our joints, improve our reflexes, and step-up our overall fitness level.

By dedicating just a few minutes each day to regular exercise you can enjoy the activities that you love with more confidence and less fear of falling.

why should senior citizens perform balance exercises?  due to falls and injury

Physical Benefits of Balance Exercises for Older Adults

Well, for starters, balance exercises are important so we don’t end up out of commission from a sprain, strain, or fracture.

Around the age of 25, we begin to lose our physical strength and bone density, which causes our sense of balance to deteriorate.

To me, that’s crazy – but it’s true!

This will only get worse as we age if we choose not to do anything about it.

Here are some reasons why it’s a good idea to do simple balance exercises every day.

Fall Prevention

This one is almost too obvious—we are doing these to decrease our risk of falls.

By challenging our balance, we improve our ability to react quickly when we stumble. 

Did you know that statistically, 65% of senior citizens (age 65+) experience a fall each year?

However, studies have also shown that balance exercises can help reduce falls by 23%. 

So, why not do the exercises daily and decrease your risk for a fall?

Increase Muscle Strength

Balance exercises strengthen our primary muscles as well as the smaller, stabilizing ones, that we often ignore. 

You don’t have to do a ton of grueling exercises to strengthen your muscles; a simple exercise like leg swings can give you better balance for your everyday activities.  

Improved Coordination

I’m not sure that I’ve ever had good coordination – I’ve always been a bit of a klutz!

Balance exercises improve your mind-body coordination. 

This helps your body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location, which is extremely important for good balance.

Increased coordination also helps with your fine motor skills.  

This is huge for daily activities like writing, typing, or even buttoning your clothes!

senior citizens doing balance exercises

Importance of Balance Exercises for Mental Health

Not only do these exercises improve physical health, but also our mental health.

Improves Cognitive Function

Balance exercise can actively stimulate our brain.

Improved coordination requires communication between the brain and muscles.

So, balance training is kind of a mental workout too, because it improves attention span and memory.

Increased Confidence

Because we improve our posture and stability with these exercises we also gain more confidence.

Being less worried about falling reduces anxiety, so we walk more confidently and this can also lead to a more active lifestyle.

Social Benefits for Senior Citizens

I really don’t really think of myself as a senior citizen, but they say I am!?  

Okay, I digress!

It goes without saying that if you feel comfortable in your body – you feel more confident in social settings.  

By joining local classes or groups at your gym or through organizations like your local park district, you can meet older people like you who have the same interests.

You can never have too many friends or cheerleaders in your group to laugh and have fun with.

Balance Exercises for Seniors

Here are a few tried and true balance exercises that you should do at least once a day.

They’re good for improving your core muscles and leg strength – which is helpful for good balance control.

1. Heel-toe Walk or Tandem Walk

  • Stand straight and place the heel of the right foot just in front of the toes of the left foot.
  • Take a step forward alternate your feet each time you take a step.
  • Try to walk in a straight line with arms extended to the sides for extra balance. You can also put some tape on the floor to make sure you’re walking in a straight line.

This one will also be helpful if you’re pulled over for a sobriety test – you don’t want to fail it when you are completely sober!

heel toe tandem walk for why senior citizens should do balance exercises

2. Standing on One Foot

  • Hold onto a sturdy chair for support if needed.
  • Lift your left foot off the ground.
  • Hold the position for as long as possible.
  • Switch to the right foot and repeat.
standing on one foot

3. Side Leg Raises

  • Hold onto the back of a sturdy chair if you are unsteady.
  • Slowly lift your right leg to the side, keeping your back and legs straight.
  • Lower your leg slowly and repeat with the left leg.
  • As you get stronger – give up the chair.
side leg raise
side leg raise

4. Back and Front Leg Raises

  • Hold onto a sturdy chair with feet hip-width apart.
  • Slowly lift your right leg straight back without bending the knees or pointing the toes.
  • Then swing the leg forward.
  • Bring your leg back down and repeat with the left leg.
  • Again, as you get stronger – give up the chair.
leg swings to the front of body for the Best Core Exercises for Older Adults
leg swing to the back of the body

5. Tree Pose – this may be a little more advanced

  • Stand up straight.
  • Lift your right leg as you take the right foot up the side of your left leg.
  • Go up as high as you can with the right foot and hold.
  • Then repeat with the left foot up the inside of the right leg and hold.

Don’t worry if you sway a bit – even the real trees do!!

Be sure to start slowly and increase the difficulty of the exercise gradually.

tree pose for balance

Yoga or Tai Chi

If you’ve have sailed past the exercises above, consider joining a Yoga or Tai Chi class for more of a balance challenge.

Both of these offer balance benefits because they move slowly from one pose to another, causing you to shift your weight and extend your extremities to challenge your balance.

They take some getting used to – some people say it looks like a graceful dance.

Well, I can tell you that it is not a graceful dance when I’m doing it!

I may or may not have had a few falls doing these exercises – I did – of course, I just laughed and got back up.

My advice, be sure that your balance is ready for a more advanced challenge before starting.

How to Get Started

Before you begin with balance exercises, let’s make sure that you are taking the right steps towards a safe and effective routine.

Check-in with Your Healthcare Team

It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program. That way, you will know that you are safe to proceed.  

Do you have health conditions like vertigo or poor eyesight, or are you taking medication that could be causing balance issues?  

If so, your doctor might have alternate suggestions for you. 

They may also suggest that you start working with a physical therapist first to make sure you are able to do balance exercises on your own or if you need different exercises instead.  

Creating a Safe Exercise Environment

Once you have the green light from your healthcare provider, you need to set up a safe space for your exercises. 

Make sure that your area is clear of anything that can trip you up, like throw rugs or clutter.

Check your equipment, is the chair your using sturdy enough?  

Do you have good lighting – let’s be honest, our eyes aren’t what they used to be!

Be sure to wear comfortable clothing that you can move in.  

Listen to Your Body

  • Always listen to your body and take breaks as needed.
  • Quality over quantity – be sure that your form is on point. If it’s not, you may not get the benefits of the exercise, and it can cause an injury. 
my home gym

Adjusting Exercises for Individual Needs

As an older adult, you have to consider a few different things before starting any exercise program.

What are Your Abilities and Limitations

Before getting started, you need to evaluate your current fitness level.

Do you have range of motion limitations, joint concerns, or other health issues that can affect your ability to do certain exercises?

Creating a Custom Routine

  1. Start with simple exercises.
  2. Gradually increase difficulty.
  3. Include supportive equipment (like a chair or wall) as needed.

READ MORE:  Workout Routine For Women Over 60: Get Strong And Get Active | Simply Aging Healthy

Modifications Are Important

Here’s how you can modify your exercises to fit your needs:

  • Decrease the range of motion of the exercise if full extension is uncomfortable.
  • Use walls or sturdy furniture for support if needed.

Monitoring Progress and Updating the Routine

Pay attention to how you’re doing after each session.

Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to readjust if needed.

Do less if it’s too much but make it more challenging if it’s too easy or simple for you.

If at any point an exercise feels wrong, skip it or modify it. It’s all about steady progress.

Monitor Your Progress Over Time

As with any fitness program, you have to constantly measure your progress.

It’s the only way you can move forward while staying motivated.

Starting Point:  Record where you are starting.

Weekly Check-Ins:  Every week, take a few minutes to re-evaluate where you are.  

What can you make more challenging – what do you need to back off of?  

If you don’t progress your plan, you will not progress.  

It’s really that simple.  

Why Should Senior Citizens Perform Balance Exercises?

Balance exercises offer amazing benefits for older individuals, mostly by improving our overall quality of life.  

By including easy balance exercises in your daily life, you can improve your stability and coordination and decrease your risk of falling.  

Without balance concerns, you can improve your confidence while doing daily activities, keep your independence, and continue a healthy and active lifestyle. 

So, why not include these exercises in your daily routine?

It could be the best thing you can do for you and your body.

Let me know if you tried these exercises and if you found them helpful!

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