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Why Should Senior Citizens Perform Balance Exercises?

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A group of seniors with closed eyes practicing yoga and sitting on yoga mats

Staying healthy isn’t just for the young. As we get older, it becomes more and more essential to do what we can to stay healthy. It’s important to surround ourselves with a team of people who care, to find a place that truly feels like home, and to regularly exercise to maintain our physical health. 

Balance exercises are a crucial part of staying healthy. They allow older adults to improve their balance, mobility, and flexibility, all while reducing the risk of falls. Incorporating simple exercises, like the heel-to-toe walk and leg raises, can make a big difference!

How Much Exercise Do Seniors Need?

Regular physical exercise is one of the most crucial parts of preserving our health. No matter a person’s age, exercise should always be incorporated into a regular routine; it brings all kinds of benefits, ranging from improving your heart to a lower risk of falls.

The CDC recommends:

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activities like walking, stretching, cleaning, or light weights
  • At least 2 sessions of muscle-strengthening activities, like weightlifting or faster exercise
  • At least 1 session a week of balance-improving exercises

While balance exercises are often overlooked, they play an essential role in maintaining health. But why are they so important?

Benefits of Balance Exercises for Seniors

Balance exercises aim to slowly and steadily improve the muscles a person needs to remain balanced, upright, and safe. It isn’t just about being able to walk without falling over; it’s about reducing the risk of harm and maintaining your health.

These exercises offer significant benefits, including:

  • Improving balance
  • Improving flexibility and mobility
  • Lowering the risk of falls
  • Improving overall health

Improving Balance

You use your balancing muscles every day, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it. They help keep you upright when you’re moving, sitting, standing still—all of it. But over the years, these muscles may begin to degrade, and the senses used to balance your body can deteriorate.

This makes it essential to regularly exercise these muscles. It helps boost the sense of equilibrium, keeps you upright, and makes it much easier to avoid potential hazards while you navigate your day-to-day life.

Improving Flexibility & Mobility

Flexibility and mobility are often overlooked, but they should always be prioritized. Exercises like yoga, tai chi, or any slow and low-intensity exercise help build the muscles needed to stay upright.

By prioritizing the muscles that you use for mobility, reaching, bending, and stretching, older adults are able to improve their range of motion and their joint health. This helps with more than just balance—it helps with daily tasks like:

  • Cleaning
  • Tying shoes
  • Reaching for different objects

It also helps to maintain overall independence; by building the muscles needed to move around, older adults are able to navigate their environment easier and safer.

Lowering the Risk of Falls

Falling is a leading cause of injury among people over the age of 65—it’s estimated that at least 14 million seniors are injured by falls each year. This is another reason why balancing exercises are so important—they help to:

  • Improve muscle strength
  • Improve joint flexibility
  • Improve coordination

When combined, these three factors can contribute to a lower risk of falling.

Easy Balance Exercises for Seniors

Now that you know how important these exercises are, you may be wondering: “Where do I start?”

When beginning to exercise, it’s essential to always start slow. Think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint; going too quickly can be downright dangerous. Instead, take it slow, and give your body the time you need to build muscles. Try to start with the following exercises.

The Single-Leg Stand

The single-leg stand requires nothing more than a chair and your own body. There are several steps:

  1. Stand behind a sturdy chair with your feet together.
  2. Hold onto the chair, then lift one leg for several seconds.
  3. Repeat with the other leg. Try to do several sets of this exercise.

Over time, try to increase how long you stand on one foot.

The Heel-to-Toe Walk

The heel-to-toe walk is a simple way to improve your balance. It’s a simple approach that requires nothing more than your own body and a bit of imagination:

  1. Start by picturing a straight line on the ground. It can help to use a seam or to follow the lines of the tiles or boards on the floor.
  2. Position your feet properly. Stand with the heel of one foot touching the toe of the other.
  3. Take a single step forward, lining up your heel directly in front of the toes of the opposite foot.
  4. Continue this movement for 10-20 feet, then turn and come back.

Try to avoid staring at your feet. Instead, focus on something in front of you to help maintain your balance.

Leg Raises

Leg raises can be an excellent way to strengthen the muscles in your thigh and improve your overall balance. Try:

  1. Standing straight and tall. Use a chair, table, or wall to maintain balance as necessary.
  2. Slightly bend one leg to maintain balance.
  3. Lift the opposite leg to the side and up, switching weight to your bent leg.
  4. Hold the pose, then slowly switch legs.

Each of these exercises can slowly help you build the muscles needed to stay upright with a lower risk of falls. Just remember to take it slowly—if you experience significant discomfort or any pain at any point, immediately stop.

senior man exercising to improve balance.

Healthy Senior Living

While balance exercises can be an excellent way to boost overall health, they’re just one piece of the puzzle. It’s essential to surround yourself with a team of people who truly care—like our team here at Luna Senior Living. In our community, we believe in supporting each and every one of our residents to make healthy choices so they can have a higher quality of life. Book a tour with us to see for yourself!

Written by
Angela Clark

More Articles By
Angela Clark

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