Did you know that according to the CDC, there are around 36 million falls reported every year among older adults? Out of those falls, 32,000 of them result in death. With that, there are also 3 million senior citizens that are treated every year in emergency departments due to injuries that are related to falls. As you can see, this is a serious issue among older adults and you may be generally concerned about falling and injuring yourself if you are a senior living in Florida because of all the activities you have available to you.
If so, you’re not alone, as a senior living magazine we want to provide seniors with the most useful information possible. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of falling, including doing balance exercises regularly. Keep reading to learn more about how balance exercises can help prevent falls, and find some simple workouts you can do almost anywhere.
What Contributes to Poor Balance?
Several things can contribute to poor balance, including:
- Age-related changes in vision, hearing, and reactivity time
- Arthritis or other chronic pain conditions
- Brain injuries
- Medications (such as those for high blood pressure or depression)
- Muscle weakness or stiffness
- Vestibular problems (inner ear problems that can cause dizziness)
How Can Balance Exercises Help Prevent Falls?
Balance exercises specifically help to strengthen key muscles we use to balance as well as our joints. The great thing about balance exercises is that they’re suitable for just about everyone, regardless of your current fitness level or age. And, they don’t require any special equipment because you can do them right at home, in a park, or even on the beach. As we age, it’s natural for our sense of balance to decline. We can help to slow issues we may have with this by incorporating some easy-to-learn and easy-to-do workouts into our free time.
Why are Balance Exercises Important?
As we mentioned, as we go through the process of aging, it’s natural for our bodies to go through changes that can affect our balance. For example, we may lose muscle mass and bone density, which can make us more susceptible to falling. Additionally, age-related changes in vision, hearing, and reaction time can also contribute to poor balance. Fortunately, doing balance exercises regularly can help offset some of these changes and improve our overall balance. Let’s explore some of those options.
Types of Balance Exercises
There are two main types of balance exercises that you could try: yoga poses and balance training exercises. Yoga poses are a great way to improve your balance because they require you to use your entire body to stay steady and balanced. Some of the most effective yoga poses for balance include:
- Tree Pose
- Standing Bow Pull
- Warrior Pose
Additionally, balance training exercises such as, back leg raises, single-leg balancing, side-leg raises, heel lifts and side bends are great places to start improving your balance. Let’s take a closer look at some of these exercises and a few others that you can get started with today without exerting too much energy while you work to improve your balance.
One of the most effective balance exercises is single leg balancing. To do this exercise, stand with your feet together and slowly lift one foot off the ground, keeping your other foot planted firmly on the floor. Try to hold this pose for at least 30 seconds, and repeat as many times as you see fit. To increase safety, consider doing this with a family member, friend, or professional trainer present.
Back Leg Raises
Back leg raises are another great way to improve your balance by targeting one area of your body at a time. To perform a back leg raise, stand upright with both feet flat on the floor and slowly lift one foot behind you until it forms a slight angle.
Try holding this position for at least 10-20 seconds before bringing that foot back down to the floor and repeating with the other leg. Repeat at least 3 times on both legs. This is a good way to build up your strength and your stamina.
Don’t forget to have someone present, especially if you have not done this before. Holding onto a chair would be a good idea for this one as well until you get used to the motion. You could also lay on a yoga mat or soft surface and do general leg raises. To do this, lie flat and lift your legs until they come to a 90-degree angle with your torso. Consider having someone help you to do this.
Side Leg Raises
Similar to back leg raises, side leg raises target one side of your body at a time to improve your balance and overall stability. To do this exercise, stand upright with both feet lying flat, then slowly lift one foot up and off the ground out to the side while keeping your torso upright.
You can kick out your leg to where it feels comfortable, or you can extend it until it forms a 90-degree angle as well. Try holding this position for a few seconds before bringing that foot back down to the floor and repeating with the other leg. Repeat 3-5 times for both legs to get an even stretch.
This exercise is just how it sounds and it helps to improve your balance and increases the strength in your legs. For this, if you have general balance or mobility issues, you should make sure you have someone present. Stand near a stairway and hold onto the railing while you step upward and onto the step with one leg.
Then just bring the next leg upward to meet the leg you started with. Next, step down with one leg, and repeat with the next. Consider doing this in a few repetitions and for a few minutes or until you get tired.
To do effective toe lifts you should stand while you face a chair and simply lift your heels from the floors. What you’re doing here is bringing the majority of your weight toward your toes. Hold yourself in place for a few seconds and then lower yourself back to the ground. You will be shifting your weight back to your heels from your toes as you go back to the starting position.
Add It To Your Routine
As you can see, there are many exercises you can try at home or in a fitness class to help to better your balance skills. Whether you’re a senior living in Florida or any other state, adding balance exercises to your routine is a great way to stay healthy and fit as you age especially with all of the activities that Florida has to offer.
If you’re concerned about falling or want to do all you can to prevent injury from falls, consider adding some of these regular balance exercises to your routine. Whether you choose yoga poses or simple balance training exercises like the options we listed, these simple workouts take little time and effort but can make a big difference when it comes to improving your overall balance and reducing your risk of falling.
With a little bit of practice, you can feel more confident and comfortable with day-to-day activities. Don’t forget, it never hurts to have someone do these exercises with you. Not only will you make yourself safer by doing so, but you could also introduce new exercises to someone that might enjoy them or benefit from them as well.