Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging
Sample Exercises - Balance
make it a habit
Lian, age 68, has found that regular tai chi classes have improved her balance and flexibility:
"Early every morning, I join a group of my neighbors, and we practice tai chi for about an hour. We start out with a gentle warm-up and breathing exercises. Then our teacher shows us how to do certain poses and leads us step by step through the slow, flowing movements. We end with cooling down exercises. This exercise routine has boosted my confidence and reduced my fear of falling. It also keeps my arthritis under control."
You’re walking in the neighborhood and you hear a bicycle bell behind you. Knowing you can turn around quickly and move out of the way without losing your balance is a great feeling!
How to Improve Your Balance
Each year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. A simple fall can cause a serious fracture of the arm, hand, ankle, or hip. Balance exercises can help you prevent falls and avoid the disability that may result from falling.
How Much, How Often
You can do the balance exercises in this section as often as you like. They overlap with the lower-body strength exercises, which also can improve your balance. Do the strength exercises 2 or more days per week, but not on any 2 days in a row.
- Have a sturdy chair or a person nearby to hold on to if you feel unsteady.
- Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about doing a particular exercise.
These exercises can improve your balance even more if you modify them as you progress. Start by holding on to a sturdy chair for support. To challenge yourself, try holding on to the chair with only one hand; then with time, you can try holding on with only one finger, then no hands. If you are steady on your feet, try doing the exercise with your eyes closed. (See Progressing to Improve Balance) You can use the Strength and Balance Daily Record in Chapter 7 to keep track of your balance exercises.
Anytime, Anywhere Balance Exercises
You can do exercises to improve your balance almost anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold on to if you become unsteady. In the beginning, using a chair or the wall for support will help you work on your balance safely.
|Stand on One Foot||You can do this exercise while waiting for the bus or standing in line at the grocery. For an added challenge, you can modify the exercise to improve your balance. (See Progressing to Improve Balance below.)|
Publication Date: May 2011
Page Last Updated: September 2, 2014