How Seniors Can Assess Their Balance
Its important to understand your level of balance before you get started with any type of stretching, balance, or exercise routine.
- Determine which leg is your dominant side. Be aware of it as you practice balance. It is normal to have one side be stronger and its good to recognize and work on that non-dominant side.
- Assess your posture. Often posture can play a major role in overall balance and stability.
- Assess your core muscles. They play a huge part in your ability to balance. Learning to engage the core muscles and working on strengthening them will be key to your success.
- Gaze at a fixed point on the wall. Finding a focal point when performing exercises can make it easier to balance.
- Keep your knees slightly bent. This will lower your center of gravity and will prevent your knees from buckling and make you more stable overall.
- Spread your weight evenly across both feet. Wider base, better balance.
How Our Body Keeps Us Upright
So how does our body keep us upright? Notice I didn’t say “how do we stay upright?”! That’s because balance is usually an automatic process .
For every task we undertake, our body automatically receives information from our senses. This information is from our muscles, joints, ligaments and other sensory receptors such as touch, pressure, temperature and pain.
Sensory information also comes from our visual system and our vestibular system .
This sensory information is sent to our Central Nervous System to be processed.
The CNS then cues our musculoskeletal system into action to perform the appropriate movement.
When we are walking , our central nervous system continually sends signals to our musculoskeletal system.
If we were to come across uneven terrain or obstacles or were to trip, for example, during our walk, our musculoskeletal system will receive the information via our CNS and make the correct postural adjustments to maintain our balance and keep us from falling.
This is an automatic process that all happens very, very fast, but slows as we age!
As this process slows, combined with the loss of other factors, e.g., decreased leg strength or proprioception , it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain balance.
When you train balance and improve balance, this process becomes more effective, ensuring you stay on your feet.
Additionally, certain medications and hypotension – leading to dizziness and lightheadedness – can also affect our balance.
Foot Raises Or Marching
Start by standing with your feet together. You may use a chair for support by holding on to it. Lift one leg off the floor and stand on the other for about 10 seconds. Then place the foot down and lift the other foot to repeat the process. You may lift your feet as high as you are comfortable. This exercise improves balance, coordination, and leg strength.
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What Cautions Should You Keep In Mind
To stay safe while doing balance exercises, have something to grab onto nearby. If you have a grab bar or handrail installed in your home, consider exercising with it in reach. You can also do balance exercises with a stable chair or wall.
These exercises can cause muscle strain or fatigue, especially if you are not used to them. However, you should stop the exercise if you feel pain. Talk to your doctor about any exercises that may be beneficial given your personal health conditions.
Knee Raise To Side Lift
The knee raise to side lift is an exceptional way to improve single-leg balance. Not only does it require you to stand on one foot for a period of time, but you’ll move through a defined range of motion to further challenge your single-leg balance.
If you feel a bit too unstable when trying this movement, place your foot down on the ground between the knee raise and side lift.
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Age And Balance Control
Prior to the intervention, the younger elderly performed better than the older when standing on two legs while being perturbed, and on one leg in most of the tests with EC and EO and on different surfaces. The older elderly were slower walking 30 m and had lower HAP scores . After the intervention, many of the significant correlations with age remained. Age only correlated significantly with the improvement after BEEP for OLST on the right foot on solid surface with EO and compliant surface with EC, as well as with sway standing perturbed on solid surface with EO and unperturbed on compliant surface with EC.
The Benefits Of Senior Balance Exercises
Research shows that the benefits of balance- and strength-enhancing exercises actually extend beyond fall prevention. A study published in The BMJ concluded that physical activity programs also help protect against even the most severe fall-related injuries. In other words, if a senior engages in a balance-enhancing exercise program and still winds up falling, their risk of being injured is reduced by as much as 61 percent.
Many of the risk factors for falls and fall-induced injuries are similar, explain study authors. These factors are correctable by well-designed exercise programs, even in the very old and frail.
One of the main ways exercise helps is by strengthening an individuals bones as well as the muscles that protect them. Additional benefits include improved reaction time, coordination and cognitive function.
Study authors tout the importance of multi-component exercise programs for seniors to prevent falls and fall-related injuries. A well-rounded physical activity regimen emphasizes balance training, gait and functional training, strengthening exercises, flexibility and endurance. Tai Chi, yoga, weight training, aerobics, walking, cycling and swimming can all be modified to meet ones unique needs and abilities and incorporated into a fall prevention exercise program for the elderly.
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Why Do Seniors Need To Improve Their Balance
There are a number of factors that can increase a seniors risk of fall-related injuries. With age comes a range of mobility issues as well as declining muscular and skeletal strength. Here are some additional factors that may put the elderly at risk
These factors, however, dont mean that the elderly cant take steps to improve their mobility and balance through stability exercises. These not only improve balance and prevent falls but also increase overall well-being, strengthen joints and reduce the risk of fractures. By taking steps to stay safe, seniors can stay independent longer and maybe even hold off on or escape the use of mobility devices, such as walkers or canes.
Research shows that older adults who stay active and exercise regularly have lesser chances of falling. While balance and strength exercises, in addition to resistance training, seemed to be the most effective, even moderate cardiovascular exercises proved to be effective in fall prevention. However, there are simple exercises seniors can perform at home that will benefit them immensely.
Not Ready To Try Balancing Exercises Yet
If youre not ready to try balancing exercises yet, focus on improving your leg strength with this easy exercise which you can do at home every day.
Sit up tall towards the front of a sturdy chair, bring your feet back a little closer to the chair so your knees are over your toes. Sit up tall towards the front of a sturdy chair, bring your feet back a little closer to the chair so your knees are over your toes. Engage your abdominal muscles and push down into your feet, learn forward and push upwards to stand Touch the back of the chair with your legs then lower your bottom back down to sit back down safely Repeat for 30 seconds and track your score to see how you progress
*Its really important to do exercises to improve your balance although you do need to have sufficient strength first. If you cant stand up safely without support for 30 seconds then please dont try these balance exercises. Ask your doctor about being referred to your local falls service.
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How To Improve Your Balance Without Leaving Your Chair
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Millions of American adults aged 65 years and above fall every year, and falls are the major cause of death and injury for senior citizens. With such statistics, finding balance in all aspects of your life is crucial. The elderly population in the society grapples with various problems, which adversely impact their capacity to stay steady.
Chronic conditions like Parkinsons disease, Arthritis, Alzheimers disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Cardiovascular disease can affect their ability to move freely and stay balanced. It is such unsteadiness that normally leads to falls and consequently, injuries. Apart from chronic conditions, other reasons make senior citizens prone to falls. This includes a more sedentary lifestyle, adverse effects of certain medications, and a decline in physical fitness and impaired vision.
Luckily, life-changing falls can be prevented by improving your balance. Balance exercises, along with strength workouts, can reduce falls by helping you to maintain and control your bodys position, whether you are stationary or moving. Read on to find several simple exercises that you can do to maintain and improve balance without leaving your chair.
Star Balance With Weight Pass
This exercise builds upon the skills you’ll learn in the star balance hold. With this movement, you’ll learn how to balance on one leg while counterbalancing a weighted object.
Try this exercise without any weight, so you can get comfortable with the arm movement. You can use an item such as a plastic ball to replicate the hand weight. Once youÃ¢â¬â¢re comfortable with the movement pattern, gradually increase the weight.
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Balance Exercises For Seniors
May 19, 2019
Looking to improve your balance? Research shows that balance exercises for seniors can significantly reduce the risk of falls.
Nearly 1 in 3 adults over age 65 will fall each year. Its no surprise that falling is the number one cause of injury among senior adults.
Falls can lead to serious injury, including hip fractures or other broken bones, head injury, brain injury, and even death.
The good news is that falls can be prevented with the right approach. Exercises, stretches, and balance training can lower your risk of falling.
Minute Balance Exercises For Seniors
. Posted in Balance.
How confident are you when getting on or off escalators in a busy shopping centre? Are you reluctant to try new activities for fear of falling? Balance and stability tends to decline with age, but theres lots you can do to help rectify that. Heres some balance exercises for seniors, enabling you to improve your balance 5 minutes at a time.
The first thing you need to do is ensure that youre safe to be able to do a balance exercise. Sometimes you need to improve your strength before you start to attempt improving your balance. If youve had a fall or if youre at all concerned please ask your doctor before trying these exercises or ask for a referral to a falls clinic.
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How To Test Your Balance
There are many tests we can use to measure balance.
The aim of testing your balance is to get a rough guide on how well you can balance, and then use these measures as a guide of progress after doing balance training.
I have chosen four tests to give you a rough guide of your balance.
However, before we get into the tests, there is some basic equipment you will need:
EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED:
To test and train your balance sufficiently, I recommend the following:
· A tape measure
· Masking tape – Preferably coloured as it is easier to see.
· Timer – You can use the timer on your mobile phone.
· Chair Standard chair with arms. Not a couch.
· Sturdy piece of furniture – .
· A Wall.
· A helper grab a family member, friend, exercise partner, whoever to help take measures.
Why Is It Important For Seniors To Exercise
Exercise has many benefits. It helps protect against heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Movement and physical activity can also improve mental health and quality of life. Activity is important for everyone but is particularly important for seniors. It helps to improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility. This can help you keep up with activities of daily living and support your independence.
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Ten Exercises To Improve Strength And Balance For Seniors
Before you begin these exercises, take some time to find your balance. Notice which leg is dominant or if you have a tendency to favor one side or the other. When standing, keep your knees slightly bent and maintain good posture. If you feel like you are not stable enough, try moving your feet further apart.
You can modify these exercises according to your own comfort and safety. Stabilize yourself by placing your hands on a wall or chair. Feel free to stop the exercise after fewer repetitions or to relax each pose after a few seconds. Even a little bit of movement can go a long way to improving your health and fitness.
Sensory Feedback From Your Muscles And Skin
The sensory feedback from your muscles is the last source of information the cerebellum uses to keep you in balance during movement.
The positional sensing of our bodys position and movement is called proprioception and is sometimes referred to as the sixth sense. There are mechanically sensitive proprioceptor neurons in your muscles, tendons, and joints.
The cerebellum uses the information from these proprioceptor neurons, combined with information from the vestibular system and the eyes to form an overall representation of movement, position, and acceleration of the body.
Proprioception is critical for performing movements without visual information. It is what allows us to maintain balance while walking in complete darkness for example. When you learn any new skill or sport that requires the use of your body, its necessary to first learn some proprioceptive tasks.
Without proprioception, it would not be possible to drive a car because the driver wouldnt be able to look at the road ahead while steering and using the pedals. The same goes for playing the guitar, playing tennis or painting a canvas. You get the picture.
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Proprioception Deteriorates As Well
Proprioception deteriorates with age just like the other sensory systems for balance. Proprioception can also deteriorate if your body weight changes significantly or if you lose a limb due to an accident or disease. This is because it takes quite a bit of time for the proprioception to readjust to the changing environment.
Fortunately, proprioception can be trained with the same exercises we use to train our whole balance skills. Its essentially muscle memory and muscle memory is fortunately very long-standing.
This study actually showed that elderly people rely more on proprioception than vestibular or visual cues for postural motor control. They also identified a delay in challenging the feedback systems stability in seniors and a decline in the amplitude of the motor feedback. They concluded this was likely due to the weakness of the motor system. Motors meaning muscles.
This is one of the reasons its very important to both hone your balance skill and keep your muscles strong. Lets look at how strength affects balance in seniors next.
Moderate To Difficult Exercises
15. Stair tapping:
- Stand in front of a step stool or a step.
- You can hold a side rail or cane for support.
- Step up with your right leg and bring your left leg up to meet it.
- Now step down in the same order.
- Repeat by starting with the other leg and continue the cycle 15-20 times.
16. Back leg raises:
- Stand facing the back of a chair while holding onto it.
- Slowly raise your right leg off the floor and swing it backward.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds, then bring your leg back to the center.
- Repeat this on the left leg and continue the exercise for 10-15 circuits.
17. Side leg raises:
- Start by holding onto a chair or countertop for support.
- Lift your right leg out to your side and hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Repeat with the other leg and continue this for 10-15 circuits.
18. Chair leg raises:
- Sit in a chair with your back straight.
- Now, lift your left leg up to 5 inches off the ground and hold for 5 seconds
- Bring your foot back to the ground and repeat with your right leg.
- Continue this slow march for 3-5 minutes.
19. Side-step walk:
- Facing forwards, step out to your side with your right leg, then bring your left leg to place your feet together.
- Repeat this for about 15-20 steps in each direction.
20. Musical statues: This is a fun game you can play with your grandchildren. The alternating between dynamic movement and standing still does wonders for your balance while giving you a little aerobic workout in the process.
22. Sit to stand:23. Upper body rotations:
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