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September 16, 2014

Improve Balance to Prevent Falls: 5 Balance Exercises to Try

You’ve probably heard the expression “practice makes perfect” applied to acquired skills or athletic performances. The same can be said for improving your balance. While it might not seem like the most necessary of fitness skills, strong balance increases your stability and helps prevent potentially dangerous falls. 

If you’re concerned your balance might not be as steady as it could be, the first step is to speak with your doctor and schedule a balance assessment. He or she might have recommendations for physical therapy or a specific exercise program, but there are also several simple exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home. As with any new exercise program, check with your doctor first and honor your body’s limitations. 

5 Exercises to Improve Your Balance 

  1. Tai chi: This low-impact ancient Chinese tradition can be a great stress reducer while also improving your balance. Nicknamed “meditation in motion,” tai chi involves gentle movements and stretches that flow together to keep your body constantly moving while maintaining a slow rhythm and focused breathing. Look to see if tai chi classes are offered in your area, or look on YouTube for free workouts. 

  2. Weight shifts: This is an easy balance exercise you can do while waiting in line or cooking dinner. Start with your legs spread hip width apart and your weight equally distributed on each side. Then, slowly shift your weight to be heavier on one side, then the other. As you get more comfortable, lift one foot off the floor and see how long you can comfortably hold that position. For extra security, try this exercise while standing near a chair or countertop you can grab. 

  3. Invisible balance beam: Hold your arms out from your sides and attempt to walk on an imaginary narrow surface, like a balance beam. Move your feet heel-to-toe for several steps while looking directly in front of you. Do your best to focus on moving forward and not looking down at your feet to keep yourself steady. 

  4. Unstable surface: Use a pillow, air mattress, or—if you’re feeling really ambitious—bosu ball, to practice weight shifts on an unstable surface. Make sure you have a spotter to lend a helping hand. 

  5. Eyes closed: Try any of the above balance exercises with your eyes closed for an additional challenge. Taking away your vision makes maintaining your balance much more difficult, so don’t try this method without a spotter. 

Maintaining an active lifestyle is a great way to keep your muscles strong and your body flexible. The right exercise program can also help reduce your risk of falling. Be proactive about your balance and prioritize fall prevention by making these five simple exercises part of your weekly routine!

For more balance exercise ideas, download “Remaining Active: How to Begin a Regular Exercise Routine” today!

Remaining Active


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