As we get older, many of us experience problems with our balance. This is often the result of decreasing muscle strength or vision problems. However, balance issues are not inevitable. There are lots of ways to maintain and improve your balance as you age. Today, we'll be sharing our top 5 exercises to improve your balance.
1. Heel-Toe Walk
You may want to try this exercise next to a wall so that you can put your hand out to steady yourself. Put one foot in front of the other so that the heel of one foot is touching the toes of the other foot. Then step forward and bring the back foot to the front, moving your weight from the heel to the toes. Repeat for 10 steps. As you get more confident, aim for 20 steps and keep increasing over time.
2. Leg Lift
For this exercise, we'd recommend standing behind a sturdy, high-backed chair. Hold onto the top of the chair for stability until you are confident. Stand up tall with a straight back, but keep a slight bend in your knees. Then lift one leg so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and your knee is bent ninety degrees. If you can't raise it that high, don't worry - just go as high as you can. Hold this position for a few seconds before gently lowering your leg. Repeat on the other side. Aim to lift each leg 10 times.
As you improve your balance, try to hold your position for longer - aim for 10 seconds, then 20, all the way up to a minute if you can.
3. Side Bend
This exercise is great for strengthening your core, which is essential for good balance. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides. Avoid locking the knees. Begin bending to the right, bring your right-hand fingers towards your right knee. It's important to face forward throughout this exercise - don't twist your shoulders or hips to one side. Slowly return to the centre and then repeat on the other side.
If you are struggling with your balance, you might like to try a seated variation of this exercise before you try it standing up. Sit in a sturdy chair without armrests. Slowly reach one hand down towards your calf, then return to your original position. Repeat on the other side.
Whether you try it seated or standing, aim for 10 bends on each side. Increase your repetitions over time to build your strength and improve your balance.
4. Side to Side
Once again, we'd recommend holding onto a sturdy high-backed chair for this exercise until you're confident in your balance. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Plant your feet firmly and then shift your weight onto your right foot, lifting your left foot off the ground. Hold this position for as long as you can, using the chair to keep your balance if you need to. Slowly put your raised foot back down and shift your weight into this foot. Now repeat with the other leg.
To begin with, aim for five repetitions on each side. Over time, try to hold your position for longer and increase the repetitions as you improve your balance.
5. Backward Leg Raise
This exercise will help you build muscle strength in your lower back and bottom. As before, you should hold onto a sturdy chair to help you keep your balance.
Stand behind the chair and hold onto the top of the backrest. Stand up straight without locking your knees. Slowly lift one leg out behind you. Keep this leg straight and do not point your toes. Hold this position for a couple of seconds before gently bringing your leg back down. Repeat on the other side. Aim for 10 repetitions on each leg at first, then increase the repetitions over time.
Improve Your Balance to Prevent Falls
Problems with your balance can increase your risk of having a fall. According to the NHS, one in three adults over 65 will have at least one fall per year. We know the fear of falling is a big concern for lots of older people, especially those who live alone. With a Lifeline24 personal alarm, you can carry on living independently with total peace of mind. If you have a fall, you'll be able to press your pendant button to call for assistance quickly.
You can also upgrade from the standard MyAmie pendant to a state-of-the-art Fall Detector pendant. This sleek device will automatically raise the alarm if it detects a sudden drop in altitutde.
To find out more about any of our life-saving personal alarms, call our friendly team today on 0800 999 0400 or read our in-depth guide to the Lifeline Alarm service. You can also order a Lifeline alarm online or over the phone. All our alarms come with free next-day delivery and 24/7 support from our expert Response Team.