Better Balance May Decrease Fall Risk

May 22, 2014
Certain exercises may improve balance and prevent falls

Certain exercises may improve balance and prevent falls

Fear of falling and fall risks are common among older adults.  Typically, home safety evaluations address common fall prevention tips for the home.  However, one of the most important steps in fall prevention is exercise that encourages better balance.

The National Institutes of Health site  includes information on simple exercises that seniors can perform to improve balance. These steps are listed below.  As with all exercises, it’s good to check with a doctor before beginning these. Elderly individuals should also make sure that they use a chair for extra assistance or that someone is nearby to provide support if needed.

It’s important that seniors start out slowly and carefully. For some exercises, it’s best to hold to a  sturdy chair with both hands.

One Foot Stand

  1. Holding onto a chair for balance, bend one knee and raise the foot so that it is about 18 inches off the floor; if that is too high to start with, aim for a slightly lower level.
  2. Hold the leg in place for 10 seconds, then lower it.
  3. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs and repeat 10-15 times on that side.
  4. If possible, do another set of 10-15 raises with each leg.

Raising the Leg Backward

  1. Holding onto the back of a sturdy chair, slowly lift one leg out in back of you. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent, but you should try not to lean forward with your upper body. The leg that you lift should be basically straight.
  2. Hold the position for 1-2 seconds, then bring the lifted leg back into position.
  3. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs and repeat 10-15 times on that side.
  4. If possible, do another set of 10-15 raises with each leg.

Raising the Leg Sideways

  1. Hold onto a sturdy chair and pick a stance with your feet about 6-8 inches apart.
  2. Slowly lift one leg out to the side. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent, but you should try not to lean forward with your upper body. The leg that you lift should be basically straight.
  3. Hold the position for 1-2 seconds, then bring the lifted leg back into position.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs and repeat 10-15 times on that side.
  5. If possible, do another set of 10-15 raises with each leg.

Those taking care of elderly individuals may also want to do these exercises themselves; it’s never too early to take steps to maintain good balance.

Remember, start out slowly with the exercises. Once a person is secure in doing them, he or she can add repetitions and move on to other balance-strengthening exercises as well.

Resource:

NIH Senior Health

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