Balance Exercises for seniors become very important with age. More so because with balance, elders start losing their confidence also.

Bad balance is a major factor in the aging process. If balance training is not done, it can diminish muscle power and endurance. Quality of life may go down as your eyesight, reflexes, and hearing aren't as sharp as they once were.  

What causes poor balance in seniors?

  • Obesity – Affects many people
  • Arthritis and diabetes
  • Insufficient physical exercise
  • Medications that cause you to feel dizzy or exhausted
  • Injuries, which are often caused by falls

Besides being one of the normal challenges of aging, balance problems are also a concern for people with such conditions as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and osteoporosis, so balance training is even more important.

One of the most important causes why older people seek medical attention is balance control. Inner ear disturbances are frequently the cause. Vertigo is a common symptom that causes you or the objects around you to feel as if they are spinning. Balance disorders may also be caused by a stroke, elevated blood pressure, low blood pressure, a brain injury, or some prescriptions.

Balance Problems of old age

All of this will render you weak on your feet and affect your quality of life. In reality, one out of every three people over the age of 65 suffer a fall at least once a year. A severe injury, such as a bone fracture results in between 10% to 15% of these falls.

Furthermore, a fear of falling may lead you to stop engaging in daily activities like walking or visiting friends. When people get older, and muscle strength goes down, most choose to stay in their homes. Perhaps they are more at ease in their own house being close to friends and relatives. 

Why are Balance Exercises for Seniors so Important?

Balancing exercises for seniors and strengthening and endurance exercises have been shown in recent research to minimize the likelihood of a senior citizen falling and help them fall gracefully and avoid serious injury. A definite indication of improvement in quality of life. 

According to a study, specialized balance-focused fitness systems, like a balance board, decreased the number of falls that resulted in mild injury by 37% and the number of falls that resulted in serious injury by 43%. About 61 percent of seniors who fell while performing balancing exercises were able to avoid fracturing a bone due to the injury. Regular exercise even results in stronger bones at whatever age.

What part of the body controls balance?

Balance performance, agility, reaction time, and fine muscle function are both regulated by the cerebellum, located towards the back of the brain (e.g., walking). It also helps to keep posture and stability.

What is the benefit of balance?

  • Fall prevention – Balance exercise can help older people with balance issues and women with low bone mass from falling. 
  • Improved Posture – It also assists with postural control after a stroke.
  • Coordination Improvement – You need strong coordination to do just about everything, including driving, getting out of a chair, and bending down to tie your shoes, even though it doesn't occur to you. Strong legs and the ability to maintain your balance make all the difference in those and countless other activities you perform daily.

How can seniors improve their balance?

Elders can benefit from a variety of easy balance exercises for seniors. Individual fitness, including strength, endurance, and flexibility, determines the type of simple balance exercise suitable.

What is the best exercise for balance?

There are various types of exercises for balance control. 

Yoga, Tai Chi & Pilates can be called the best examples of balance exercises.

Many senior citizens who are moderately stable and active enjoy Tai Chi and gentle yoga in their daily life. 

Slow, deliberate motions increase stability, cognitive functions and reduce the risk of falling. The practitioners of Tai chi say it is the Best Exercise for balance.

“By far the most significant advantage for older adults is a drop in trips,” says Chang, who has participated in many studies that indicate tai chi increases balance. He is a Tai chi instructor at a Harward affiliated General Hospital.

So, what's the secret? Tai chi incorporates the physical criteria for remaining upright—leg strength, endurance, range of motion, and reflexes—all of which deteriorate with age.

“The slow, careful footwork gives more consciousness to the soles of the feet,” Chang continues, “not just in terms of contact sensitivity of foot to the surface, but also in terms of awareness of changes in ankle angle and weight distribution.”

You get more experienced with balancing in a variety of positions as you continually change your weight back and forth. “On the ground, it's like doing tightrope walking. You're working on your equilibrium and still training your body to be more responsive and strong, “Chang explains.

Similarly, Yoga poses include long, careful motions that can improve posture and movement and help avoid slips. Balance, stability, agility, brain function, and strength are also improved. Since falls are the leading cause of seniors' injuries, yoga will help you gain the mobility you need to get around more comfortably. It improves various cognitive functions and saves us from fall-related injury, and gives us clearer thinking.

Standing Pilates is a weight-bearing movement that stimulates the muscles of the hips and legs to stabilize bones. It's one of the best opportunities for seniors to strengthen their balance and proprioception because it's a full-body exercise (the ability to know where and how your body is oriented in the surrounding space). Standing Pilates involves shifting the body's weight.

Various other basic at-home physical activity programs can add to our exercise regimen with little or no preparation and improve coordination and improvement in our daily lives. These simple exercises done consistently are quite beneficial in improving balance confidence and reducing fall-related injuries.

You can get some more information on fall prevention here

Does walking improve balance?

Walking, strength training, and specific workouts, in conjunction, can improve balance and avoid falls, particularly in older adults. Walking aids in the development of lower-body coordination, which is an important component of proper balance.

How can exercise help seniors improve strength and balance?

Balance exercises will enhance posture, flexibility, and coordination while also building muscle. These advantages will help you stop slipping or bumping into items and hurting yourself. If your trip, you may not recover as easily as you would if you hadn't taken precautions.  

It's important for older adults to feel confident in their physical activities, not feel nervous or afraid of falling. Coordination, leg stability, and ankle agility are all enhanced with these workouts. Balance exercises can help improve mental functions, such as memory and spatial cognition, and physical benefits such as improved stability.

Some Easy Balance Exercises for Seniors

  1. Stand Still on One Leg – Hold the back of a stable chair in your hands. Raise your right foot and keep your balance on your left. Switch feet after holding the spot for as long as you can.
  2. Tight Rope Walk – Make sure your limbs are parallel to the floor by holding them out straight from your sides. Walk-in, a straight line, pausing every time you take a foot off the ground for one or two seconds. To keep your head straight and maintain your focus, focus on a distant object. Complete 15 to 20 steps.
  3. Heal to Toe – Place your right foot in front of your left, with the heel of your right foot touching the tops of your left foot's toes. Place your weight on your heel while you move your left foot in front of your right. Shift your weight to your toes after that. Taking 20 steps in this direction. Initially, you might lose your balance doing this exercise but will get used to it, and then it is very effective.
  4. Tree pose – Move your weight to your right foot from a standing stance. Place the sole of your left foot on your calf, shin, thigh, or put your left foot to the side with your heel raised. Place your hands as convenient for you. Hold the position for up to 1 minute. And repeat for the other hand. You will need support initially for this pose. Keep yourself calm, and it will be easier.
  5. Back Leg Raises – Stand holding a chair. Straighten your right leg backward. Do not bend your legs when doing this. Hold this pose for a few seconds before lowering the leg to the ground. Repeat for the other leg. Repeat ten times.
  6. Rocking Chair – Stand tall with the feet apart and firmly planted in the ground. Raise your left leg off the ground, sideways as high as possible, by moving your weight to your right foot. Keep the position for a minimum of 10 seconds. Return the leg to its original position and repeat for the other foot. Rep each leg five times.
  7. High Knee – Stand with both hands on the back of the chair. As high as possible, lift your left knee. Lower it and raise your right knee. For a total of 10 repetitions, alternate between sides. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings. 
  8. Wall Push-ups – Start by standing in front of a wall with an arm's length between you and the wall. Gently lean forward with your hands on the wall. When trying to bring your body against the wall, keep your feet firmly on the ground. Return to your original spot, which has your arms extended out straight. Repeat ten times initially.
  9. Toe Lifts – Place your arms in front of you and stand upright. Lift yourself as much as you can on your toes, then slowly lower yourself. Avoid leaning too far over in your chair. Ten times, lift and lower yourself. It is a good exercise for calves and balance too.
  10. Shoulder Rotation – It is a quick turn of the shoulders, first five times frontwards, then five times backward. It relaxes your shoulders, and you feel more balanced.