Our bodies are designed to move. Doctors recommend balance activities for all adults in general, but balance activities for elderly folks are especially important to increase confidence in everyday tasks, maintain a feeling of be – ing energized, increase hip strength and improve overall mood.
As we get older, we naturally spend more time sitting. According to Dr. Kayla Plaunt, a physical therapist at PTLink in Toledo, as our bodies become less active, we’re bound to have trouble with both weakness and balance. “If either one of those are off,” Plaunt says, “it can contribute to injury.”
Our bodies need to balance all the time throughout the day. “When we walk, we stand on one leg, whether we think about it or not,” Plaunt says.
Why should seniors perform balance exercises?
The benefits of balance training for older adults are numerous. Building exercise habits and staying active can increase strength, confidence and overall health. According to a study by Scientific American, a small amount of physical activity each day can decrease your risk of “heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ills.” Furthermore, creating an exercise routine can be meditative as consistent physical activity can enhance cognition and improve mental abilities like memory, organization and attention.
Easier than you think
While beginning a routine to exercise daily may seem daunting, balance activi – ties are as simple as reminding yourself to stand up more often, moving around the house, going outdoors or standing up during commercials on TV.
The gradual worsening of one’s balance is an exponential process. When our balance worsens, due to any number of factors—including age, poor posture, and injury— we’re likely to be less comfortable with physical activity. And less physical activity causes our muscles to weaken, making it more difficult to find the strength to start exercising again.
Thankfully, improving balance is also an exponential process. As balance improves, so does overall health as physical activity becomes easier and muscles get stronger. Exercise causes endorphins to be released in the brain, which leads to more positive feelings and lighter moods.
10 minutes of balance exercises for seniors
Dr. Plaunt suggests that seniors begin exercising with assistance, holding onto a chair or sofa. Then, as confidence grows, try these exer – cises without holding on.
Here are five quick balance exercises you can practice from the comfort of your home. The total time for these should be around 10 minutes.
Hip-kicks. Move your leg in different directions—front, back, left, right—and repeat for one minute. After that, switch legs. Once you’ve done both legs, try another exercise.
Standing marches. For sets of one-to-two minutes, lift your legs up while walking in place. Pick your knees up to different heights, depending on your comfort level.
Single leg stands. While standing, pick one leg up at a time for one minute.
Sit and stands. Sometimes, balance exercises are as simple as sitting down, and standing up. Dr. Plaunt suggests 10 repetitions. Going from sitting to standing engages your core muscles, as well as your legs, both of which are essential for good balance.
Walking. Sometimes the simplest exercises are the best. Something as easy as walking down the block can do wonders for your health.