Balancing as we walk might seem like second nature, but it’s easy to forget that we all had to learn to walk and, balance as children. Walking is a complex skill, and as we age it can become more challenging. Balance exercises are one way to help lower your fall risk and also fall in a way that helps you avoid serious injury. One study found that 61% of seniors who experienced a fall after working on balance exercises were able to avoid breaking a bone.
Imbalance Can Lead to Injuries
One of the biggest reasons why balance exercises are important is that imbalance can lead to serious injuries and even death. In 2021, almost 39,000 adults aged 65 and older died from preventable falls. 2.9 million older adults were treated in the ER for injuries received from falls. Many of the injuries typically received during falls, like a broken hip, could turn into something deadly when combined with other chronic health conditions like osteoporosis or diabetes. Imbalance goes hand in hand with injuries, so improving your balance can decrease your injury risk.
Balance exercises not only prevent falls but also enhance mobility. As we age, joints and muscles tend to stiffen, making movement more challenging. Regular balance exercises help maintain joint flexibility and improve muscle endurance, which makes it easier for seniors to perform daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, or getting in and out of chairs. Improved mobility also helps seniors live more active lifestyles.
Poor posture is a common issue among seniors, and it often leads to back pain and decreased mobility. Balance exercises help seniors develop better body awareness and posture control. By practicing exercises that focus on balance and alignment, seniors can improve their posture and relieve strain and the risk of back-related problems.
Our Favorite Exercises
Foot exercises are particularly valuable for balance, and weak feet make it harder to stay stable and balanced. Some great foot exercises include:
Ankle Circles: To complete an ankle circle, sit down and slowly make a circle with your foot in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
Toe Pulls: Toe pulls help improve foot control. Stand or sit down and try to lift just your big toe off the group. Once you’ve done it with your big toes, complete it with the other four toes.
Calf Raises: Calf raises help you to better support your weight while walking and exercising. To perform calf raises, stand near a wall and lift your heels so that you are standing on your toes. As you get better at this exercise, you can try performing it with one foot at a time instead of with two feet.
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