A UVA Heart & Vascular Center Initiative

Exercises to Help Improve Your Balance

Posted July 11, 2017

More than one-third of people aged 65 and up fall each year, often resulting in injury. These balance-improving exercises can help keep you steady on your feet.

Good balance is important for all of us. However, maintaining balance is especially important as you age because falling can result in serious injury and loss of independence among older adults. By improving balance, you can increase your body’s ability to control and maintain its position so you are less likely to fall.

Balance exercises are designed to improve your overall stability while also increasing lower body and core strength. The good news is that many balance exercises are easy to do, require no equipment and can be done almost anywhere.

Here are a few exercises that will improve balance:

  • Tai Chi – Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that involves a series of slow, flowing movements accompanied by deep breathing. A study published in 2015 showed that older adults who practiced Tai Chi Chuan had better bilateral balance with their eyes open and better postural balance than adults who practiced ballroom dancing over a period of several weeks.
  • Stork lift – Hold onto something for support (a chair or a wall) and raise one leg off the ground. Bend it against the standing leg so you look like a stork. Let go if you can and hold the position for as long as possible. If you can’t let go at first, build up to it by first holding with one hand, then one finger. Switch legs. Build up the amount of time you can balance on one leg before having to grab onto something to regain your balance. Once this gets easy, try repeating the exercise while standing on a pillow (which adds instability) or close your eyes.
  • Chair raise –Stand up from a seated position without using your hands. This helps you improve stability and balance.
  • Heel-to-toe walk – Walk in a straight line by placing feet one in front of the other as you walk, touching the heel of the front foot to the toes of the foot behind it. Take as many steps as you can. You can hold your arms out for added balance.
  • Back leg raise — Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance. Tighten your core as you raise your right leg straight out behind you without bending your knee. Hold the position for a few seconds and then lower your leg. Repeat 10 times for each leg. This will help strengthen your buttocks and lower back.

Before starting any new exercise routine, be sure to talk to your doctor. Looking for a new physician? Visit uvahealth.com/findadoctor today!

Tags: ,

Copyright 2016 © Baldwin Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

Health eCooking® is a registered trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Cook eKitchen™ is a designated trademark of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein without the express approval of Baldwin Publishing, Inc. is strictly prohibited.