As a senior fitness specialist for many people over the age of 65, I always incorporate exercise to improve balance into sessions. That’s because each year, more than 1/3 of people over the age of 65 fall. Injuries from falls, such as hip fractures, are serious and prevention is the key.
I encourage everybody no matter what age we are, to be diligent of our stability and balance performance. You’re never too young to start included balance exercises into your daily routines.
Here’s a list of 5 basic balance exercises you can do. If you’re not comfortable doing the “hands free” versions, simply start off by holding on to a sturdy chair, wall, column, person or tree while doing these:
1. Stand on one foot for a slow 10 second count. You arms can be extended outward to your sides, or palms together in front of your chest in a praying type position. Focus on something in front of you at your 6 o’clock. Repeat 3 times for each leg.
2. Heal-to-Toe Walk. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toe of your other foot. Repeat for 20 steps.
3. Balance Walk. Raise arms to sides, shoulder height. Choose a spot ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other. As you walk, lift your back leg. Pause for 1 second before stepping forward. Repeat for 20 steps, alternating legs.
4. One legged Squat. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Point your left foot out front, just barely touching the floor for balance and push your hips back and down into this challenging one-legged squat position. Your right knee is bent, chest upright, eyes forward, and your arms out front. Slowly push up to return to starting position. Switch feet. Be sure the knee doesn’t push in front of the toes
5. Once you master balance moves on solid ground, try them on an unstable surface such as a BOSU. It’s a half-dome fitness tool that really can really make a difference and improve balance performance. You can simply stand on it with both feet at first to get used to it. Try 30 seconds at a time. Then, when you’re ready to progress, try two-legged squats on the BOSU. Stepping up and down on the BOSU is also a great exercise to improve balance.
In addition to specific balance exercises, anything that works your core, such as crunches, cobras and planks are also recommended on a daily basis to help improve your stability and prevent falls.
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach
“Get Fit with Witt”
Individuals / Groups / Corporate
310.562.5629 Cell / 818.760.3891 Main
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