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18 Sep 2020

Exercises to Improve Strength and Balance for Older Adults

Oftentimes as we get older, sometimes our balance becomes less stable. Even walking a simple straight line on a flat surface can become a challenge. Fortunately, you can improve your balance easier with exercises specifically geared toward helping you build strength and become more stable. 

Walking a straight line is a balance exercise! None of these exercises below take long or even require you to own special equipment, but they do create positive results. Try some of these simple moves to improve your balance and stability to stay healthy, and be sure to make the most of the activities available to you at your Gracemark Homes community.

Safety is incredibly important when you’re doing any balance exercise. You should always have a counter or a chair or another surface to hold on to prevent an accident if you happen to lose your balance. 

Chair Exercises

  • Side Leg Raise. Hold on to a chair and gently raise one leg out to the side. Without causing undue strain, raise your leg high as you can. One set consists of ten lifts on each leg.
  • Single Limb Stance. The single-limb stance is similar to a side leg raise. This exercise involves you holding onto a chair and raising one foot off the ground. Hold your balance as long as you can. As your strength and balance improve, you don’t need to hold onto the chair as tightly. You can even try letting go of the chair. However, you should always have a chair available in case you start to lose your balance. The exercise is usually in sets of three with each leg.
  • Single Limb Stand with Arm. This is the same as the single-limb stance with the addition of your arms. Lift your right hand over your head. Then, slowly raise your right foot off the floor. Hold this position for at least ten seconds. Repeat on the left side. Have a chair available in case you start to lose your balance.
  • Weight Shift. The weight shift is a good starting balance exercise that also helps build strength. With a chair in front of you in case you lose your balance, stand with feet hip-width apart and your weight distributed equally on both legs. Shift your weight from the center to the left side and lift your right foot off the floor. Hold your leg off the ground for about 30 seconds. Return to having your weight distributed evenly on both legs and switch. As you gain strength and balance, you can increase your repetitions.

Walking Exercises

  • March. Marching is a simple exercise that is easy to work into your daily life is. With your knees high, march throughout your home. Are you planning to go from the living room to the kitchen to grab a snack or a drink? March! You can even set music to play or your favorite podcast and march through your home. Marching is a solid workout that, on top of helping with balance, it also provides some cardio exercise.
  • Walk Heel to Toe. Try walking heel to toe if you have a long kitchen counter or a long, open wall area. Taping a line to walk can even help. Be sure you look forward and stand straight. Keep the wall or counter within reach just in case you start to lose your balance.
  • Walk Sideways. Start the sideways walk with your feet together, and your knees slightly bent. Slowly step sideways, controlling your movement. Move your other foot sideways to join it. Do ten steps and one direction and then ten steps in the other direction. Do this with a wall, countertop, or chair nearby in case you begin to lose your balance.

Couch Exercises

  • Stand up and Sit Down. A great way to put commercial breaks to good use is standing up and sitting down. Keep your back straight and try your best not to use your hands as you stand up and sit back down. Repeat in increments of ten. You can increase the sets as you get stronger. This will help commercials fly by!
  • Balancing Wand. Whether you are on a couch or on a chair, all you need for a balancing wand is a broomstick, umbrella, cane, or any stick-like device you have on hand. Hold the bottom of your broomstick, so it is flat on the palm of your hand. You want to hold the stick upright for as long as you can. Then change hands to work on your balance on both sides of your body.
  • Seated Calf Raises. A little goes a long way to build strength in your lower legs to help increase your balance. Sit tall with your legs hip-width apart and bring your feet back, so your heels are behind your knees. Lift your heels off the floor, coming on to your toes. Hold for a few moments and gently lower your heels down. Repeat seat calf raises in increments of ten. You can increase the sets as you get stronger. Do your seated calf raises during any couch-based activity where you can sit tall.

Living in a Houston or Austin community through Gracemark Homes provides a variety of ways to stay healthy and strong, thanks to exercise classes such as yoga or tai chi to swimming pools to fitness centers. Even winding through walking trails every day with your friends is an excellent way to improve your balance and increase your strength. Make sure to get your feet moving, and most of all, have fun!