Older adults are more prone to falls due to a myriad of reasons. However, the main reason for falls is loss of balance. Improving balance can help to decrease the likelihood of falls. It is important to encourage the elderly to improve their sense of balance as the elderly may need a longer time to recover from injuries resulting from falls. Doing balance exercises may help to reduce imbalance and consequently falls.
How Can Balance Exercises Reduce Falls?
Poor balance may be caused by several factors such as issues with the vestibular system in the inner ear, muscle and joint problems, or vision impairment. When you have problems with your sense of balance, it can cause you to have difficulty in walking, standing, and moving. In addition, it can also cause you to be dizzy or lightheaded. All this will result in a higher risk of you falling and injuring yourself. Hence, incorporating balance exercises can improve balance and reduce the likelihood of falls.
Let’s look at some balance exercises:
Leg raises help to strengthen muscles in the abdomen, hence strengthening core balance.
To do leg raises:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Lift your right foot about an inch above the ground
- Focus on keeping your body straight and make sure you are not leaning towards the right
- Stay in the position for 10 seconds
- Then repeat on your left leg
Head rotations help with balance as it improves the vestibular ocular reflex which involves changes in vision and turning of the head.
To do head rotations:
- Stand up straight with feet hip-width apart
- Look to your left for five seconds and then slowly move your head to look to your right for another five seconds
- Look upwards for five seconds, then gently move your head down to look downwards for another five seconds
- Repeat the above steps for 30 seconds
- If you feel dizzy during this exercise, you can sit down instead of standing or move your head slower
This is a simple exercise that can help to strengthen muscles in your back, leg, and core. It helps to improve mobility and balance. Besides, it is very practical as standing up from a sitting position is a common movement.
To do sit-to-stand:
- Stand directly in front of a chair with your back facing the chair (make sure that your chair is stable to prevent falls)
- Slowly sit down on the chair
- Rest on the chair for about three to five seconds
- Slowly rise to stand back up again
- Repeat the steps above for 10 to 12 repetitions
- Once you have mastered this exercise with ease, you can transition to squats instead
Doing balance exercises such as the ones mentioned above can help promote balance and reduce the likelihood of falls. If you are facing challenges with balance issues, senior living communities may be a good option for you. You can get care and support from a professional team and also lead a healthy lifestyle through fitness classes.