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August 21, 2012

Age in Place: Simple Exercises You Can Do at Home to Improve Balance

Taking steps to improve your balance can decrease your risk of falling. Exercises that focus on balance, flexibility, and building muscle strength can help prevent falls and decrease the possibility of serious injury if you do fall. Watch for falling prevention classes at your local senior center or park district. There are also a number of exercises you can practice at home that will help improve your balance.

Tip: When practicing balance exercises, always support yourself by holding onto something sturdy with both hands to prevent an inadvertent fall. As your balance and muscle strength improve, gradually decrease support to one hand, then one finger until you can perform the exercise without support. Even then, it is a wise precaution to exercise within reach of sturdy support.

One-legged crane.

Standing at the kitchen sink or anywhere that offers support, bend your knee and lift your foot off the ground so you are standing on one foot. Hold the pose for 10 seconds. Alternating legs, repeat 10 times on each leg.

High step.

Parallel to a counter or wall that can be used for support, place a row of 3 soft objects (slippers, stuffed animals or folded kitchen towels work well) about 12 inches apart (15 inches if you’'re tall with a long stride). Lift your foot high, at least six inches off the ground, and step over the first object. Pause to rebalance before stepping over the next object. Practice 5 times in each direction, eventually eliminating the pauses between steps.

Check back tomorrow for more balance exercises!

Kendal’s Senior Independence program can help you connect with community resources that offer balance training.

photo credit: ROSS HONG KONG 


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