Exercise is vital to improving your strength, fitness level, weight loss, and your flexibility. But did you know that exercise also improves your balance? Balance and stability can affect your wellbeing and seniors are more prone to falls and, subsequently serious injuries that could lead to permanent disabilities or even death. Our muscles gradually weaken after the age of 30, but staying active keeps your bones strong and help you sustain your balance longer.
First things first. When starting out, don’t go all in. Start gradually and maintain a point of support like a wall or chair until you feel more steady to stand on your own.
On the same note, find comfortable shoes with a high back collar to provide adequate support for your ankles. Be sure the sole is non-slug and the heel is not greater than one inch. Additionally, avoid loose-fitting clothes to prevent tripping. With that out of the way, here is the exercise you can try right now at home.
1. Standing Balance or Standing Plank
This exercise is important to help you gain basic posture.
- Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, place your hand on a point of contact, in this case, a wall.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and count to 25 while maintaining the same position.
- You can add a heel lift to strengthen your calves and improve the flexibility of your foot.
- Next, with one hand on the wall, move into a side plank and walk your feet away from the wall to get a good stretch. Count to 25 and then switch sides.
When you feel you’ve improved your stability, you can try the same exercise without support from the wall. Place one foot in front of the other and bring your heel to toe. Count to 25 and then switch legs.
2. Tightrope Walk
- This exercise is great for improving your posture, core strength, and more importantly balance. Plus, it’s simple to practice. All you need is a rope and a flat surface.
- Place the rope on the floor and tie it between two ends making sure it forms a straight line.
- Walk slowly towards the other end, maintaining a straight line.
- Look straight ahead as you move forward. When starting, you can use the wall for support. With time you can walk with your arms stretched out to your sides, without any support
3. Walking Heel to Toe
You need strong legs to support your weight, and this is just the right exercise for you.
With the right foot in front of your left foot, be sure the heel of the right foot is in contact with the toes of the left foot.
Now move your left foot in front of the right foot and make sure the heel of the left foot touches the toes of the right foot.
Do 20 reps while shifting your weight to your heels and toes in alternating moves.
4. Back Leg Raises
This is also another great exercise that not only improves balance but also strengthens your lower back. You will need a chair for this exercise. Stand behind the chair and lift your right leg straight backward. Avoid bending your left leg as best as you can. Maintain that position for a few seconds before switching to the other leg. Repeat this exercise for up to 15 minutes while switching between the right and left leg.
5. Side Leg Raises
This is similar to back leg raises only this time you’ll be lifting your legs to the side. Start by standing behind your chair and slowly lift your left leg to the side. Count to 10 and then switch to the right leg. For effectiveness, try to keep your back straight and your toes facing out front. Repeat this exercise for 15 or more minutes.
6. Tree Pose
This exercise engages your core, works on your legs and improves balance.
Stand with both feet on the floor, your back straight and your arms stretched out overhead.
Slowly lift your right foot up and rest it on your left inner thigh or calf. Avoid resting the foot on your right knee.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and then switch legs. You may wobble when starting out but you’ll soon gain stability.
7. Practice Squats
To build strong sturdy legs, experts highly recommend doing squats. With strong legs, you’ll be able to support your own weight and prevent falls or stumbles. Squats are simple to do and here’s what you need to do:
Place your feet hip-width apart.
Bend your knees and hips and stretch out your hands in front of you.
Slowly lower yourself as if you want to sit on a chair.
When your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause for a bit. If you can get lower, that will be excellent.
Keep your back straight and then force yourself back up to a standing position. Do repetitions of 10, breaking for a few seconds before repeating the squats again.
One important aspect that you need to remember is to stretch before and after your workouts. Your muscles strain when you stretch them and a warm-up exercise will help to improve circulation and prepare your muscles for the exercise.
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