We have all heard the adage that physical exercise is good for our health and well-being. Did you know, however, that balance exercises, in particular, can help one with age-associated issues? For example, as we grow older, our bones and muscles weaken. This means that the balance that we once took for granted begins to take a downward spiral. Indeed, a majority of falls in this age group are due to poor balance. With some easy balance exercises, you can ensure that you’re in the best of health. Before we dive into the various exercises that you can practice, it may be worthwhile looking into what balance is all about.
What Is Balance?
In our ears, we have a special fluid that grants us proprioception. This is a kind of sense that we develop in infancy that lets us know how we’re positioned. For example, proprioception lets you touch your finger to your ear without even opening your eyes! Along with our ear, our muscles and bones help support our weight and shift our position to react to any incoming stimuli. Problems with any of these may lead to poor balance. The following exercises will help you with maintaining your balance. They can all be done with walkers and canes. Do consult your primary care physician before you embark on new exercises.
Rotating Your Head
This deceptively simple exercise works wonders. Stand (or sit) in an upright position and slowly rotate your head from left to right for thirty seconds. Next, rotate by looking up, then down. You may feel some dizziness. You should stop for a while or go slowly if this happens.
Yes, that’s right! Just like the uniformed groups you see, you can march and improve your balance. While standing, slowly bend and lift your leg as high as you can. Ideally, your thigh should be parallel to the ground but this is not necessary. Do hold on to a cane or a chair if you feel unstable. Alternate legs until you have completed 20 marches in total.
This is a moderately difficult balancing exercise. It requires you to stand upright and this time, lift your leg behind you and hold it there for as long as you can. Your other hand can use the wall or a stable surface for support if needed. Do this with the opposite leg. This exercise not only helps with balance but also stretches out tight muscles.
In all honesty, this exercise is inspired by street dance steps. Music will help you get into the rhythm of this exercise. Keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Now, lean slowly to the right, back, left and forward with only your upper body. Hold your hands out for added balance. This exercise is powerful as it engages your core muscles which help with posture and balance. With a combination of targeted balance exercises and nutritious food, you can prevent falls, combat sarcopenia, and remain active for decades!