7 Exercises to Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

According to the National Council on Aging, one in four people age 65+ falls each year in America. Falls are also the leading cause of injury and hospital visits among seniors. At Freedom Plaza, we’re dedicated to not only helping our residents recover after a fall, but also preventing falls from happening. This is why we’ve compiled some of the best fall prevention exercises that can help you build strength and balance.

Before You Begin:

As with any new exercise routine, consult your doctor before you start. No matter what, we encourage you to start slowly and modify these fall prevention exercises as needed to fit your abilities. Be patient and know your limits.

Exercises to Prevent Falls

1. Toe taps

Find a stool, a step or the first stair on a staircase. Stand in front of it, facing it. Raise your right foot, tap your toe on the step or stool,and place your foot back down on the floor. Repeat this action on the same side 12 to 15 times, then switch feet and repeat on the left side.

2. Side-to-side weight shifts

Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Raise your arms out to the side for stability (you can also keep a chair or other support close by). Slowly shift your weight to your right leg. Your left toes may raise off the ground, or you can keep them down. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, then carefully re-center your balance. Repeat on the left side. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

3. Marching in place

When you first try this exercise, hold onto  a wall or a chair. As you build strength over several workouts, you can try it without support.

Stand tall, holding onto your support, and slowly raise your knee until the top of your leg is parallel with the floor. Place your foot back down and repeat the process with your left leg. Repeat 10 marches on each leg — 20 marches total.

4. Sit-to-stands

Standing in front of a stool or chair, face away, like you’re preparing to sit. Sit back and touch your hips to the seat, then pushing through all four corners of your feet, lift yourself back to standing. Repeat this squatting motion 10  times.

You can hold onto a wall or another support for this exercise, and work your way up to performing the exercise without holding onto  anything.

5. Backward leg raises

Stand behind a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Holding the back of the chair, raise your right leg behind you, keeping your knee straight (or as straight as possible). Hold this position for a few seconds and gently touch your toe back to the ground. Repeat 10  times, then switch to your left side.

6. Sideways leg raises

Stand behind a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Holding the back of the chair, lift your right leg out to the side, keeping your knee straight (or as straight as possible). Hold this position for a few seconds, then gently touch your toe back to the ground. Repeat 10 times, then switch to your left side.

7. Single-leg stands

Stand tall. Plant your feet hip-width apart. Hold your core muscles tight and slowly raise your right foot roughly an inch off the floor. Keep standing tall; try not to lean to one side. Hold this position for 12 to 15 seconds.

If you need the support of a wall or a chair, use it. Eventually you may build enough strength that you won’t need it.

Exercise Classes to Help with Fall Prevention

If working out on your own is not your preference, you may want the expert guidance of an instructor or the fun of a group setting. There are several practices that focus on building strength and balance. You can find a class and bring a friend.

  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Tai Chi

Freedom Plaza residents can join our regular chair yoga class and build muscle in one of our two fully equipped fitness centers.

Additional Fall Prevention Tips and Considerations

Health Conditions

Some chronic conditions, like cardiovascular diseases, worsening eyesight, neuropathy and Parkinson’s disease, can increase your risk of falling. Sometimes the condition itself doesn’t put you at greater risk, but the medication to treat it may have side effects that lead to falls. Speak to your doctor about what can be done or what extra precautions could be beneficial.

Environment

Assess your residence for trip hazards. Tuck away any loose cords and create wide walking paths. Optimize light for better visibility and be sure to always turn lights on if you get up during the night. Install grab bars in bathrooms, and minimize your use of stairs, if possible.

Footwear

Wear supportive shoes with nonskid soles. Sandals or slides can be trip hazards themselves. Opt for shoes that fit securely on your feet.

If you’d like to find out more about the fitness center at Freedom Plaza or the thoughtful ways we design each floor plan for fall prevention, contact a member of our team. We would be happy to tell you more.