Balance is something crucial to our safety in life, yet it is one of those things we take for granted in our youth. And even as we reach the age of 40 and beyond, it still often doesn’t get a lot of attention.
Practicing balance helps navigate complex surfaces more efficiently, it can strengthen joint stability and carry over to sports if you play one. It can help stave off the disequilibrium that often comes with old age, and can rear its head even on regular surfaces.
Studies have indicated that one out of three people over the age of 65 fall each year. And when old people fall, they often break things like hips, which can induce a slide towards debilitation and death.
Balance Test On both feet:
- Stand with your feet together and your ankle bones touching.
- Cross your arms and close your eyes.
- Try to hold this position for as long as you can.
- A healthy standard is to be able to hold this position for 60 seconds. If you can do that, then you’re well on your way to establishing a solid foundation to build on.
Single Leg Balance Exercise
Practice the single leg stance balance exercise. Begin with positioning yourself behind a chair or next to something stable.
- Hold on to the chair back with both hands.
- Lift one leg off the ground, slowly.
- Maintain your balance while standing on one leg for 5 seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat 5 times. Try to increase the time spent standing on one leg.
- Perform with opposite leg.
Tips to Add On
Boost the intensity and challenge of the single leg stance exercise with these changes:
- Hold onto the back of the chair with only one hand.
- Stand near the chair for safety, but do not hold on.
- Close your eyes while standing on one foot.
- Stand on a soft, squishy surface like a pillow or a piece of foam.
- Lift your leg off the ground one inch higher.
- Perform the T-stance exercise, in which you extend your lifted leg out behind you, keeping your back and pelvis level.
Just as athletes can train their bodies, seniors can use exercise programs and moves that focus on balance to reduce and prevent falls.