What are balance exercises?
There are several different types of exercise, including endurance, strength-building, flexibility, and balance. Depending on your schedule, physical ability, and energy level, incorporating physical activity into your routine can feel overwhelming. That’s why learning more about balance exercises can be helpful! These movements are often simple and low impact and don’t require a great deal of time or equipment. Below are six examples of balance exercises that can help you get started.
Why are they important?
Balance exercises can help build your resistance to internal and external forces that can cause falls.
For some, the aging process can involve decreased functions in the nervous and muscular system which can lead to weak muscles and unstable walking patterns. A national study from 2021 found that only about four in 10 older adults in the United States participated in any type of balance activities during the week. By incorporating balance exercises, older adults can help build stability and support. Research on preventing falls in older adults has shown that about three sessions of balance exercises per week can reduce the risk of falling. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services highlights that including balance-type activities in your exercise regimen can help improve daily living activities and reduce risk of more significant injuries (like bone fractures) if a fall does occur.
Regardless of your age, balance exercises are a great way to fit physical activity into your routine, even if you find yourself short on time or energy. Take a moment to set aside time to practice balance exercises this week! You can reach out to your Health Advisor if you have any questions or would like examples of other balance activities. Remember, always ask your health care provider before beginning any new exercise regimen.
- While standing up straight, put your feet side by side and bend your knees slightly.
- Step to the side slowly with one foot so your feet are about hip distance apart.
- With control, move your other foot to join it.
- Try taking ten steps each direction, keeping your hips level as you step.
- Begin standing up straight with your feet together.
- Without twisting your hips, cross your right foot over your left foot.
- Bring your left foot out from behind your right foot, placing it beside your right foot so that your feet are touching again.
- Try taking five cross-steps each direction (first left, then right). If you need more stability, keep a light touch on a nearby surface with your fingertips.
- The smaller your steps, the more you’re working on your balance!
- While standing up straight with your feet side by side, place your right heel on the floor in front of your left toes, as if you’re walking on a tightrope.
- Next, do the same movement with your leg, placing your left heel on the floor in front of your right toes.
- Try to take at least five steps.
- While standing up straight with your feet side by side, face a wall and stretch out both arms until your fingertips touch the wall.
- Keeping your hips level, lift your left leg so that your knee is in line with your hip. Keep a slight bend in your right leg to help with stability.
- Stay in position for about five to ten seconds, then repeat on the other side.
- Try to do three lifts on each leg for a total of six lifts.
- Using a step (preferably with a wall or rail nearby for support), step up with your right foot and then meet it with your left foot.
- Step down one foot at a time to return to the starting position. Stepping slowly and intentionally is important to building balance.
- Try doing five step-ups on each leg.
- Sit down in a chair with your feet resting comfortably on the floor.
- Engaging your legs, stand up without using your arms to help.
- Sit back down without using your arms.
- Try repeating this move five times.