older adult practicing balance exercises with trainer

The Benefits of Balance Exercises for Older Adults

Did you know that studies have shown that older adults who engage in balance exercises for just six weeks were able to improve their balance and gain more self-assurance?

Here, we’ll discuss why balance is so essential to our well-beingespecially for older adultsand share a few simple balance exercises that can help you improve it. 

The Importance of Balance for Older Adults

Balance naturally begins to decline as we age, but it’s a key component of our health. Consider all of the movements you perform each day. Walking, going upstairs, shopping and running errands all require our body to perform a complex balancing act. As this critical skill declines, we must take action to preserve it.

Lack of balance can impact both our mobility and our overall quality of life. The CDC reports that approximately 36 million older adults fall each year, with as many as 32,000 of those falls resulting in death. However, taking steps to improve your balance can significantly decrease your risk of injury or death from falling. 

Assess Your Fall Risk Factors  

As you develop a balance exercise strategy, knowing your current abilities and areas you need to improve can be helpful. At Edgemere we offer all residents access to VSTBalance and VirtuSense. These are automated fall-risk assessment tools which use artificial intelligence with machine vision to objectively recognize fall risk indicators by evaluating balance, gait and function.

The assessment only takes a few minutes, after which it generates a report that assists residents in pinpointing early deficits in balance, gait and function that can be improved upon with skilled treatment. Then, treatment plans with engaging biofeedback activities can be created to help with fall reduction and improving mobility.

This type of fall risk assessment and the creation of unique balance exercise plan has been shown to:

  • Minimize post-acute care falls by 73%
  • Improve resident mobility by 85%

Those who don’t have access to a fall risk assessment program should speak to a healthcare professional about alternatives for identifying risk factors.

Balance Exercises for Older Adults

To maintain or improve one’s balance, the American Heart Association recommends that older adults balance training three or more days a week. However, be sure to speak to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program. 

These three simple balance exercises are a good way to get started on your way to improved balance.  

Exercise One: Sit-to-Stand  

The sit-to-stand exercise can help you build length strength and improve your overall core body mechanics, all of which are important for improving balance and preventing falls. Perform this exercise for 10 repetitions, twice a day. 

  1. Begin by sitting on a sturdy chair. You should be able to sit comfortably with your feet flat on the ground. Ensure you have a sturdy support surface in front of you for assistance if needed. 
  2. Scoot forward to position your buttocks at the front of the seat.
  3. Lean your chest forward over your toes, shifting your weight forward. Slowly rise to a standing position.
  4. Ease back down to a seated position and repeat.

Balance Exercise Two: Stand on One Foot  

The ability to stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds can be an indicator of overall health. The goal of this balance exercise, also from Johns Hopkins, is to slowly improve your balance so you can eventually stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds.

For this exercise, it will be useful to have a support person with you or a sturdy surface nearby to catch yourself if your balance wavers.  

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold that position for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds. Only after you can hold this position for 30 seconds with minimal swaying should you move on to the next step. 
  2. Lift one foot and hold steady for 10 seconds, working up to 30 seconds. Switch to the other foot and repeat. Again, hold for 10 seconds and aim to work up to 30 seconds. 
  3. Repeat this for five repetitions per foot.  

For best results, repeat this exercise for five repetitions twice a day.

Balance Exercise Three: Heel-to-Toe Walk  

This heel-to-toe walk balance exercise can help strengthen your legs, a key factor in improving your overall balance. 

  1. Stand with your heels pressing into a wall and place your left foot in front of your right foot.
  2. Touch your left heel to your right toes, then place your right foot in front of your left foot and touch your right heel to your left toes.
  3. Continue for 20 steps.

When you have completed this exercise, repeat it at least twice for the greatest benefit. 

Health and Wellness at Edgemere  

Edgemere is a distinctive, upscale senior living community with unmatched services and amenities for sophisticated older adults. At Edgemere, we believe that enabling our residents to live the best years of their lives here means providing everything they desire for developing mental, physical and spiritual wellness. Residents also get access onsite to VirtuSense and VSTBalance, a rehabilitative technology that reduces falling risks by improving balance and increasing mobility through biofeedback activities. 

Our skilled team will work with you to craft a custom wellness plan that is suited to your overall goals. Come and experience our community for yourself by scheduling or tour, or contact us if you have any questions.