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Fall Prevention with Balance Exercises for Seniors

— by Michelle Gonzalez in Health, Fitness and Wellness
exercises for balance, balance exercises for seniors, prevent falls with balance exercises
 

Did you know that 20% to 30% of seniors aged 65 and above fall each year? Based on the Seniors’ Falls in Canada 2014 report, falls continue to be the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian seniors.

Fall-related injuries like hip fracture limits an older person’s ability to carry out daily activities independently. Fortunately, by doing balance exercises on a regular basis, along with strength exercises, seniors can work towards improving their ability to control and maintain their body’s position and prevent falls.

A recent study shows that balance exercises can help seniors to prevent falls and consequently, fall-related injuries. There were seventeen trials that tested the effect of balance exercises on the elderly’s risk of falls as well as fall-related injuries. Overall, the exercise programs led to a reduction of fall incidents that caused injuries by 37%, those which led to serious injuries by 43%, and those which led to broken bones by 61%.

Here are some recommended exercises from the US National Health Institute’s website for senior health. While they are encouraging seniors to try exercises for endurance, flexibility, and strength as well, the ones provided below focus on balance:

Standing on One Foot


This exercise is great for improving a senior’s balance by standing on one foot.

  1. Position yourself behind a sturdy chair and stand on one foot. Hold onto the chair for balance.
  2. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times with the other leg.
  5. Do another set of 10 to 15 repetitions on both legs.

Walking Heel to Toe


This routine will help improve an elderly individual’s stability by walking heel to toe.

  1. Put the heel of one foot in front of the toes of the other foot, so your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you. You will focus on this spot as you try to walk steadily forward.
  3. Take one step, putting your heel in front of the toe of the other foot.
  4. Repeat for 20 steps.

Balance Walk


This exercise will help improve a senior’s balance doing the balance walk.

  1. Raise arms to the sides at shoulder height.
  2. Choose a spot ahead of you. You will focus on this spot as you try to walk steadily forward.
  3. Walk along a straight line with one foot in front of the other.
  4. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before taking a step forward.
  5. Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.

Back Leg Raises

This exercise is great for strengthening your buttocks and lower back muscles with back leg raises.

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding onto the chair for balance. Slowly inhale.
  2. Exhale then slowly lift one leg straight back. Don’t bend the knee or point your toes. Keep your back straight and avoid leaning forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold this position for 1 second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with the other leg.
  7. Do another set of 10 to 15 repetitions on both legs.

Side Leg Raises


This routine helps to strengthen the hips, thighs, and buttocks muscles doing side leg raises.

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with feet slightly apart, holding onto the chair for balance. Inhale slowly.
  2. Exhale then slowly lift one leg out to the side. Keep your back straight and your toes facing forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent.
  3. Hold this position for 1 second.
  4. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg.
  5. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
  6. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg.
  7. Do another set of 10 to 15 repetitions on both legs.

By doing these balance enhancing exercises, seniors will be able to improve their physical stability and lower their risks of falling and getting injured.

 

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