Scary statistics: 1 in 4 older adults will fall and seriously hurt themselves in the next 12 months. These injuries can be bad enough for them to lose their mobility and independence.
Here’s some news to counteract those statistics. Seniors who regularly do fall prevention exercises can reduce their risks. These exercises are designed to strengthen key muscles and joints that help with balance.
The objective is to prevent injury with these exercises, so make safety a priority. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Always exercise with a partner, such as a caregiver, who will be close by and ready for support if you’re unsteady. Successful fall prevention exercise is a gradual process. Don’t overexert yourself—and definitely stop if you feel pain.
Simple At-Home Exercises to Increase Balance
These are daily exercises that you can accomplish with a partner or caregiver. Remember to start out slow and pace yourself.
Sit to stand. Use a study chair that has arms. From a standing position, reach behind yourself and find the armrests. Use them as guides and support as you slowly sit down in the chair. You’ll feel your leg muscles in use. Then, use your arms and legs as you push down on the armrests to stand. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
Marching in place. Find a countertop or a sturdy chair to hold onto for balance. Stand straight and tall, and then bring one of your knees up towards your chest. Then switch to the other knee. Do the movement slowly and deliberately, as if you are marching in slow motion.
Back leg raise. Head to that sturdy chair or countertop, and then stand tall. While holding on for support, slowly raise your leg behind your body as if you were going to kick a ball. It should be a slow and deliberate motion so you’re not using momentum, but your muscles.
Side leg raise. While you’re at the countertop or using the sturdy chair, raise one leg, as if you were going to take a giant step sideways. Hold it to the count of 3 once you’ve raised it as far as you can. Do this for 10 repetitions and then switch to the other leg.
Heel to toe. This will require 2 sturdy chairs. Stand between them and use them for support as you slowly move one of your feet until it’s directly in line and in front of your other foot. Stand and balance in this position to the count of 10, and then switch feet.
These simple at-home exercises will, over time, help you to strengthen your legs and reassert a sense of balance. They’ll help you become less likely to take a fall and become one of those statistics.