"Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable." - CDC
This is a frightening statistic, but one that we can impact positively. Even if your balance is good, maintaining your strength and balance is something everyone should work on.
Many people become less active as they age and challenge themselves less physically. But a few simple exercises can help with balance, strength and falls prevention. Here is a suggestion of 2 simple exercises you may try.
- Sit down in a dining room chair and stand up (without plopping into the chair) 5-10 times. Use good form by keeping your back straight (not vertical) and getting your weight over your feet. Your goal should be to do this without using your hands, but feel free to use them for balance if you need.
- March in place. The slower you go, the more emphasis you will be putting on balance. Make sure to place a hand on a wall or counter until you are steady enough to do this slowly without holding on. If you are really good, you can pause for 5-10 seconds on each leg and remain balanced.
- Practice balancing. Walking is really just a series of single leg balance, moving the other foot forward to avoid falling as we move. So, practicing standing on 1 leg for a few seconds at a time while holding on to a stable counter for safety can help your walking and balance.
Remember that these suggestions are only that, suggestions, and not a replacement for skilled physical therapy and exercise instruction. If you are apprehensive about doing these, or find yourself too unsteady to do them safely, please contact a physical therapist familiar with balance issues in older adults to be evaluated and have an exercise program designed specifically for your needs.