As we grow older, our bodies experience changes. Amongst several changes, a major one is a decline in physical strength and balance, which may be caused by various factors.
When one loses their balance, they are bound to fall. And studies show that falls are the leading injury cause among older Canadians, with 20-30% of adults experiencing one or more falls each year.
For this reason, we should ensure that our parents and grandparents maintain good stamina and balance to avoid falls.
Thankfully, some exercises equip our older loved ones with an increased ability to move around without feeling unsteady. Check https://seasonsretirement.com/5-easy-stretching-exercises-for-seniors/ for stretching exercises to boost your folks’ overall well-being.
Alternatively, Seasons Retirement have compiled 9 senior exercises to prevent or reduce the frequency of falls in older adults.
1. Side limb balancing
This exercise is excellent for boosting one’s level of balance and physical coordination. To practice this, your older loved one should follow these steps:
● Stand upright with both feet resting firmly on the ground.
● Gradually raise one of the hands above the head.
● Lift a foot on the same side of the body as the raised hand into the air. If the right hand is lifted, the left foot follows, and vice versa.
● Maintain this position – one hand and one foot in the air, for about 12 seconds.
● Bring down the raised limbs and repeat the process with the other side.
2. The heel walk
This is another one of the exercises for seniors that strengthens the legs, thereby reducing the chances of falling. Older adults can do this exercise by following this process:
● In a standing position, place one foot directly in front of the other.
● Ensure the heel of the foot in the front touches the tip of the other foot behind.
● Take the foot behind to the front of the front foot, with the body’s weight now resting on the foot presently in front.
● Walk in a straight line, in this manner, for around 12 steps.
3. Lower back training
This exercise toughens the muscles of your backside and lower back region. To do this exercise, older adults can do the following:
● Hold on to a stable, upright object. A solid table, chair, or counter will suffice.
● Gradually raise one of the legs backwards to stand as horizontally as possible from the upright body.
● Do this without letting the knees get bent.
● Hold the leg in this position for a second.
● Slowly bring the leg down and repeat the process with the other leg.
4. Lone leg balancing
This is arguably one of the most straightforward exercises to improve balance for seniors on this list. Therefore, it’s a good choice, to begin with if one is unaccustomed to exercises for seniors. Here is a breakdown of how older adults can do this exercise:
● Hold on to a firm upright object such as a table or chair while standing.
● Raise one foot vertically in the air, resting the entire body weight on the other leg while staying balanced.
● Maintain this position for the longest duration possible.
● Bring down the raised foot and repeat the process with the other foot.
5. Stick balancing
This exercise can be performed either in a sitting or standing position, using a straight and light piece of wood, cane, or even a broomstick. Older people can follow this procedure for the exercise:
● Stand or sit and stretch the hand forward with your palm facing upwards.
● Balance one end of the stick vertically on the flat of the outstretched palm.
● Try to keep the stick balanced for the longest duration possible.
6. Push-ups off the wall
This is another one of the exercises for seniors that aim to boost older adults’ physical strength and balance, reducing the chances of experiencing falls. To do this exercise, older adults can follow this process:
● Stand before a wall. Virtually any wall can serve this purpose as long as it is flat, so this can be done right in the bedroom.
● Incline the body forward and, with both hands outstretched towards the wall, place the palms flat on the wall at the height of your shoulders.
● Slowly lean in the wall’s direction as if to bring the torso in contact with the wall.
● Gradually push the body away from the wall as one would move their bodies from the ground in a push-up exercise.
7. Marching still
This exercise boosts balance and coordination and increases knee joint flexibility, which helps protect older adults from arthritis.
To do this, older adults should follow these steps:
● Stand upright, gradually raise one knee vertically to the highest level possible.
● Bring it down and then raise the next one, mimicking a military parade march.
8. Rolling the shoulders
This is another exercise that benefits older persons’ joints and boosts their balance.
This physical activity can be carried out either by standing or sitting. Older people can engage in this exercise by gently rotating their shoulders upwards, toward the sky, and downwards.
9. The toe raiser
This exercise strengthens older people’s leg muscles, giving them firmer balance while walking. Here’s how older people can do this exercise:
● Stand upright and hold a table or chair.
● Slowly raise the heels, letting the whole body weight rest on the toes.
● Gradually bring the heels back down and repeat the process.
The aforementioned balancing exercises often involve putting older people’s bodies in uncomfortable positions. There is a good chance that falls might occur when carrying out these exercises. To prevent this from happening:
● Seek advice from a doctor or a qualified physical therapist to know what exercises are suitable for your older loved one’s physical condition and level of endurance.
● Place safe and steady objects within reach while exercising so that one can easily grab on to them in case of emergencies.
● Exercise in groups for support.
Apart from being a threat to life and physical well-being, falls can negatively affect the confidence level of your parents, making them more inclined to choose a sedentary and non-active lifestyle.
Therefore, it is essential to encourage them to regularly engage in some of these balance exercises for seniors.