Balance and stability are something we all take for granted until we start to see it decline as we age. Some seniors may feel that a little loss of balance comes with age, but even a little instability can cause a fall that they may not fully recover from.
The statistics from (NCOA) in the U.S. of falls among the elderly (65 and above) are quite astounding:
1 in 4 seniors fall each year.
Every 11 seconds someone goes to the ER because of a fall, and every 19 sec someone dies from a fall.
90% of hip fractures are due to falls.
Falls are the #1 cause of brain injuries.
What if we could reduce the risk of falling with a few minutes a day of exercise?
Balance training provides many benefits even beyond preventing falls:
1. Develops core strength which make daily activities easier
2. Provides confidence to do activities you may have been afraid to try
3. Helps maintain stamina to keep up with family…especially grandchildren
Among my base of clients as a personal trainer, I see many people over the age of 65. Their activity level through the years has had a direct correlation to their level of stability and balance. Staying active is key to slowing down stability problems. Adding in 5-10 min. a day of stability training could improve quality of life and prevent a possible debilitating fall.
Here are some basic exercises to get you started: Check out these videos from eldergym.com showing how to do each exercise: https://eldergym.com/fall-prevention-in-the-elderly.html
- One leg stand: Stand on one leg for 15-30 sec. Keep core tight and always have something you can grab if you lose your balance like a stair rail or countertop.
- Heel toe walk: Walk along a straight line and put one foot in front of the other. Try not to touch your feet together as you walk. Hold your arms straight out to the side if this is difficult.
- Slow marching: Walk along a straight line and pick up you front knee to 90 degrees as you walk….like you are slowly marching.
- Step over objects: Place same size objects apart that are longer than your shoe length.Step over the objects as you walk.
- Lateral step overs: Once you have gotten used to forward moving balance exercises it is time to add in lateral movements. Place a shoe or yoga block on the floor and practice step over it laterally. Make sure to have both feet step back to the beginning after each movement.
- One leg stands with clock arms: Stand beside a chair and hold if needed with your left hand. Raise your right knee as close to 90 degrees as possible and hold it there. Raise you right arm in front of you just to shoulder height and move it to the side and behind you as far as it is comfortable to do and then back to start. Do 5 repetitions and repeat on the other side.
To start your balance training, begin with 2 exercises each day. After you feel like you have improved, move on to two new exercises. Over a short time, you should see your balance improve as well as your confidence and quality of life!