Aging comes with some unfortunate physical circumstances. As we age, so does our ability to regain the control and balance we once had. If you’re 65 and up, your risk for falling changes, and increases with up to 45% of seniors falling every year. Many factors can contribute to falling, such as the risk of being overly medicated, the combination of medication and alcohol, hypotension and reduced vision and/or muscle control. Stay one step ahead of your own condition and improve your balance with these fall prevention exercises. Your health depends on it!
Whether you’re 65 or 85, a daily exercise program involving specific fall prevention exercises is important. Your muscles have lost some mass and your joints may be stiff, but you can control slow, low intensity movement to help ease the discomfort you experience daily. If you have had a history of falling, now’s the perfect time to exercise and regain your balance with more control than ever. Try the following exercises and practice them several times a week for maximum success.
First Things First
Talk to a doctor before trying any exercise program. Just by indulging in light weight exercises, you are still at risk for injury. Once your doctor has approved your condition and exercise program, knowing some simple facts about balance can help you to stay motivated to continue daily exercise.
Posture is important. Before trying any exercise, you’ll want to insure that your posture is straight when you stand and sit, and be sure that your weight are in front, not in back of your ankles.
Rely on a standing object such as the back of a chair to maintain balance while exercising. Whether you are participating in a senior yoga class or using lightweight dumbbells, you should never feel ‘prideful’ about using an object to support your body. There’s nothing worse than falling during a falling prevention exercise – that defeats the point.
Move slowly. When moving up and down (such as getting up from a sitting exercise) move slowly and with as much control as possible. Don’t rush yourself in any way, and if the pain becomes too much, stop the exercise immediately.
Boost your overall fitness and improve flexibility and balance with daily fall prevention exercises. Studies have shown that fall prevention exercises not just decrease your risk for falling in the future, but help improve your arthritis and a variety of chronic pain conditions. Do you have trouble sleeping throughout the night? Is your stress level through the roof? There’s no better solution than exercise. Not only does it strengthen muscle, but it offers a great way to distress and instantly at that!
Exercise #1 – Exercise to Music
Who would have thought that exercising to the sound of classic music could be so beneficial as a fall prevention technique? While music isn’t any sort of a magic pill to reduce the amount of falls a senior may experience, studies have shown that over six months time, walking to the sound of the piano playing resulted in fewer falls than walking without. Music can also improve the speed of a walk and the overall agility and flexibility of muscle range.
Exercise #2 – Limb Stance
Always begin any exercise program with a simple one, like the limb stance. The goal is to balance on one foot at a time, but as you begin make sure to have a chair within arms distance that you can grab onto should you begin to lose your balance. Start by lifting your left foot up while controlling the rest of your body so that it stays above the center of your remaining foot. Lift your foot up slowly, and hold it there for 5 seconds (if you are able). Lift it back down just as slowly and repeat this exercise with the other foot. Practice daily, with 3-5 repetitions on each leg.
Exercise #3 – Marching in Line
With or without the sound of music to accompany it, this marching exercise is fun to do and a great fall prevention exercise to practice daily. Simply put, all it requires is a standing position (with a chair nearby for balance should you lose yours temporarily!) and marching in place. Standing behind the arm of a chair is best, especially if you are doing this exercise for the first time, with the goal of marching 2-3 times daily.
Exercise #4 – Practicing Balance in Different Environments
As you become stronger and improve your overall balance, begin to challenge yourself. Step outside of your home and indulge in fall prevention exercises on the grass, the gravel or even tanbark at the park! Begin to move yourself in small circles (as opposed to just standing upright) with controlled movement of your stomach, legs and arms while tracking how well you do on the grass, on the cement, etc. You will develop better balance over time, so keep at it!
Exercise #5 – The Dancing Walk
If you’re a dancer at heart and miss those days you waltzed or salsa danced across the dance floor, you’ll have fun with this balance exercise. As a great fall prevention exercise, it also requires some prior experience with balance related exercises. Don’t try this one as your first exercise, or make sure you have some help such as a family member to assist you with your coordination and balance nearby. Begin by taking your right foot and placing it over your left. Then, place both feet together and repeat. Switch feet by taking your left foot and crossing over your right foot and then stepping together. Repeat this exercise daily, and as many times as you feel comfortable with.
Are you ready to improve your balance and be as healthy as you can possibly be? Regularly exercising the joints, muscle groups and tendons have never been so important then when you’re a senior. Since people are living longer than ever before, staying in the best shape possible is crucial in order to maintain a high quality of life. Practice these balance exercises and you’ll improve your health and happiness, all at once.
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