Balance & Stability

Fitness_Seniors Today

Maintaining good physical balance can reduce the chances of falling or tripping up. Dr Balaji Gandhi explains which exercises can help

Loss of balance and frequent falling is the one of the common problems in elderly people. Having good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position, whether you are moving or remaining still. Good balance helps you walk without staggering, get up from a chair easily, climb stairs without tripping, and bend over without falling. Good balance is important to help you get around, stay independent and carry out daily activities.

Balance exercises, along with certain strength exercises, can help prevent falls by improving your ability to control and maintain your body’s position.

Balancing exercises

Side Leg Raises: Stand behind a chair or counter with one or both hands resting on it for support. Lift your right leg out to the side and repeat 10 times for each leg.

Clock Reach: Begin standing, holding a chair with your left hand. Imagine a clock with 12 o’clock in front of you and 6 behind. Stand on your left leg, bring your right arm to 12 o’clock and reach to 3 o’clock to your side, and 6 o’clock towards the back. Repeat with other side

Flamingo Stand: Stand with feet together and arms relaxed at sides. Hold onto a chair for support if needed. Bend one knee to lift the foot slightly off the ground and balance with your other leg. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with other leg.

Fear of falling while walking increases as one ages
Fear of falling while walking increases as one ages

Brushing Your Teeth Exercise: Stand by a flat tabletop or counter. Lift your right foot a bit. With your right arm, brush the upper left corner of your mouth (with a real or imagined toothbrush) for 30 seconds. Now put the toothbrush in your left hand, and raise your left foot. Brush the upper right corner of your mouth for 30 seconds. Switch again, putting the toothbrush in your right hand and lifting your left foot. Brush the lower left corner of your mouth. Repeat on the other side.

Living Room Walk: Walk slowly across your living room. While walking, slowly turn your head as far to the right as you can. Walk back to your starting point, slowly turning your head as far to the left as you can.

Strengthening exercises

Back Leg Raises: Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out and slowly lift one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Try not to lean forward. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent. Hold position for 1 second. Breathe in as you slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Repeat 10 to 15 times with other leg. Repeat 10 to 15 more times with each leg.

One-Legged Clock with Arms: Balance on one leg, torso straight, head up, and hands on the hips. Visualize a clock and point your arm straight overhead to 12, then to the side (three), and then circle low and around to nine without losing your balance. Increase the challenge by having a partner call out the different times to you. Switch to the opposite arm and leg and repeat

As exercises get easier, you can modify them, and add challenges and fun
As exercises get easier, you can modify them, and add challenges and fun

Single-Leg Dead Lift: Balance on your left foot, engage the abs, and bend forward at the hips while reaching toward the ground with your right hand. Hold on to a five- to 10-pound weight (about 3-4kg) and raise your right leg behind you for counterbalance. Tighten the buttocks as you return to the starting position. Keep your knee relaxed and back flat throughout the movement. Switch legs.

As exercises get easier, modify them by moving arms, head or closing eyes. For added challenge and fun, include balance boards, balance cushions, or sturdy foam rollers. You can even just stand on a pillow and do some of the exercises. Keep safety in mind at all times: remove objects around you and stand near a wall or stable surface in case you lose your balance.

Good balance is important to help you get around, stay independent and carry out daily activities
Good balance is important to help you get around, stay independent and carry out daily activities

About DrBalaji Gandhi

Dr Balaji Gandhi is Principal of the Nargund College of Physiotherapy, Bengaluru.

View all posts by DrBalaji Gandhi

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