Spring is here and the days are warming and getting longer. It is a perfect time to get outside and work on some balance exercises. That may sound simple enough but balance is a critical issue as we age. Many older individuals face medical hardship’s as well as independence challenges if they are injured in a fall. Working to improve balance can help prevent accidents.

So why do people tend to fall as age increases? This short list explains some of the basics.

  • Eyesight diminishes and falls can occur simply by not seeing something in the path.
  • Reaction time tends to slow as individuals age so we’re less able to “catch” ourselves.
  • Weakness in hips, knees and ankles along with a tendency to shuffle instead of lifting can cause stumbling.

In order to counteract these tendencies, a little training and attention to just one simple exercise can help. Done daily, this can help ensure your balance will stay strong for a long time.

If it is a nice day, go enjoy the fresh air while doing it. Otherwise, inside will do just fine. If you are unsure about any of these exercises, consult your physician.

Single leg balance

This exercise is simple to understand but may take some practice to master. It is one of the most basic and can do a lot to assist with any balance issues you or a loved one may be having.

  1. Using two hands, hold onto a chair back or fence, and stand on both feet. Lift one leg and find your center of balance over your ankle. Balance for a few seconds and then change the lifted leg. Repeat several times.
  2. To increase the difficulty, increase the time balancing on each leg, working up to a minute on each side.
  3. Another way to increase difficulty is to lessen that assistance your hands give. Begin with two hands, progress to one hand, then to a few fingers until you feel safe without using your hands for balance.
  4. Remember to stay near the support source just in case.

Simply doing this exercise daily will help keep limbs strong and remind the body not to shuffle while walking. For more info on balance and age, click here.