Falls are the leading cause of injury-related fatality for Americans aged 65 years and beyond. One of the main risk factors of falls is having poor strength and balance. Thankfully, there are several exercises that you can do to help you improve strength and balance as you age.
Starting with Balance, Strength, and Flexibility
Before attempting any form of exercise, it is highly recommended to consult your primary healthcare provider to determine the suitability of the activity. Following that, find a suitable place in your home that is safe to carry out the exercise. A home gym is not completely necessary. A small designated area will suffice as long as you get to stay comfortable while exercising. Consider having support features such as a grab bar, doorknob, and others. Additionally, remove any hazards that may cause you to trip such as mats, cables, and others.
Strength and Balance Exercises for Older Adults
- Stand Tall: When your posture is more curved or rounded, it will impact your balance. Standing tall is an exercise that can help build the muscles that help you to stand up straight. Start by standing with your feet apart at a comfortable distance. Press them down evenly into the floor with the crown of your head held high and slightly bend your knees. Close your eyes and breathe normally for several minutes.
- Heel Raises: Stand up straight and slowly raise up your heels and roll up the balls of your feet. Start off with a small lift before gradually lifting up your heels much higher and hold that position. Slowly place your heels back to the floor and you can increase the intensity by holding the lift much longer or raising your arms in front of you.
- Ankle Movements: Stand up straight and shift your weight to your left leg. Lift up the heel of your right foot before the toes and balance on the other foot. Lift up your right knee as high as possible while rounding your shoulder and head forward. Ensure that the crown of your head is kept high. Point and flex at your right ankle a few times before rotating the foot in one direction before the other. Repeat with your other foot.
- Rock the Boat: Place your feet at least across the distance of your shoulder. Press them firmly onto the ground and look directly ahead at eye level. Shift your weight to your right foot while lifting your left heel off the floor so that you are balancing on your left toes. Pause for as long as you are comfortable and lower your left heel to the other side.
- March in Place: Shift your weight to your left leg and engage your core. Lift up your right knee while the foot is flexed. You may wish to round your head and shoulders forward. The crown of your head is to be kept high. Lift up your knee as high as possible without going above the height of your hip and your thigh needs to be parallel to the floor. Pause and repeat with the other foot.