Maintaining Balance With Exercises As You Age Can Help Prevent Falls

September 2, 2014

As we get older, our bodies undergo a series of continual changes, some of which make getting around in our daily life a bit more difficult. One of these changes is a decline in balance, something we take for granted until it starts to fade from us.

Having good balance means being able to control and maintain your body’s position at all times, and it’s necessary for normal functioning both inside and outside your home. Impairments in balance make otherwise-simple activities like walking up the stairs much more of a task, and as a result, increase the risk of falling.

Every year, more than one-third of adults who are 65 years or older suffer from a fall. On top of balance issues, older adults may also have a decrease in vision, weaker bones and muscles, and slower reaction time, which makes the likelihood of a fall even greater. Experiencing a fall and an injury such as a hip fracture can further impair your abilities and take away from your independence.

The danger of falling is therefore a major concern for anyone in the aging population and those with a family member or friend that might be at risk. A number of factors play a role in reduced balance, but much of the decline is based on inactivity.

This means that by regularly exercising, you can not only slow down this decline, but you can also improve and maintain your balance, which will reduce your risk of falls. CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services LLC offers balance and strength training programs and suggests these exercises and tips to improve your balance:

  • ***Don’t perform any of these exercises before speaking with a medical professional, and make sure you have a sturdy chair or person nearby to help you if you feel unsteady at any time ***
  • Stand on one foot: hold a chair for balance, stand on one foot for 10 seconds, then repeat it with the other leg, 10-15 times each
  • Back leg raises: same set-up as last exercise, but instead of raising it, lift it back without bending knees or pointing toes, 10-15 times with each leg
  • Side leg raises: also same set-up, but lift your leg to the side while keeping your back straight and toes facing forward, 10-15 times with each leg
  • Walk heel to toe: with arms outstretched and focusing on a distant point, walk in straight line with heel close to or touching toe, for 20 steps
  • Balance walk: same approach as last exercise, but take normal size steps and lift your back leg for one second before stepping for 20 steps
  • We’ll also educate you on preventing falls at home by installing handrails and non-skid rugs, removing hazards and getting better footwear

If you or someone close to you has balance issues and you’d like to do something about it, CAM can help with a balance assessment and exercise program. Call 301-853-0093 to schedule an appointment at any of our three locations in Laurel, Hyattsville or Glenn Dale/Bowie, MD, or click here for more information.