14 Exercises to Improve Balance and Strength
Falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors, but they can be often be avoided by improving your balance and strength. Below are 14 simple exercises you can do everyday that can help you avoid those falls. You don’t need fancy equipment, either – just pull up a chair!
1: Single Limb Stance
Stand behind a steady, solid chair (not one with wheels), and hold on to the back of it. Lift up your right foot and balance on your left foot. Hold that position for as long as you can, then switch feet.
Your goal: stand on one foot without holding onto the chair and hold that pose for one whole minute.
2: Use Opposite Hand
This is a tricky one! Use your non-dominant hand to complete tasks you’d normally do with your dominant hand.
While it might sound like a silly one, using your non-dominant hand for everyday tasks such as brushing your teeth or eating builds new connections between in the brain. Also, the more you use your non-dominant hand, the stronger it will get.
Give it a try.
3: Rock the Boat
Stand behind a steady chair and hold for support. Position your so that the space between them is the same width as your hips. Make sure both feet are pressed into the ground firmly. Stand straight, with your head level. Then, transfer your weight to your right foot and slowly lift your left leg off the ground. Hold that position for as long as possible (but no more than 30 seconds).
Slowly put your foot back onto the ground, then transfer your weight to that foot. Slowly lift your opposite leg. Start by doing this exercise for balance five times per side, then work your way up to more repetitions.
4: Clock Reach
Hold onto the back of a steady chair with your left hand. Now, Imagine you are standing in the centre of a clock. The number 12 is directly in front of you and the number 6 is directly behind you. Lift your right leg and extend your right arm so it’s pointing to the number 12. Next, point your arm towards the number three, and finally, point it behind you at the number 6. Bring your arm back to the number three, and then to the number 12. Look straight ahead the whole time. - Repeat this exercise twice per side.
5: Back Leg Raises
This strength training exercise makes your bottom and your lower back stronger.
Stand behind a steady chair. Slowly lift your right leg straight back – don’t bend your knees or point your toes. Hold that position for one second, then gently bring your leg back down. Repeat this 10 to 15 times per leg.
6: Single Limb Stance with Arm
This balance exercise improves your physical coordination.
Stand with your feet together and arms at your side next to a steady chair. Lift your left hand over your head. Then, slowly raise your left foot off the floor. Hold that position for ten seconds. Repeat the same action on the right side.
7: Side Leg Raise
This exercise improves your balance.
Stand behind a steady chair with your feet slightly apart. Slowly lift your right leg to the side. Keep your back straight, your toe facing forward, and look straight ahead. Lower your right leg slowly. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times per leg.
8: Balancing Wand
This balance exercise is done while seated. You’ll need a cane or some kind of stick. A broomstick works well for this – just remove the broom’s head before you start. Hold the bottom of the stick so that it’s flat on the palm of your hand. The goal of this exercise is to keep the stick upright for as long as possible. Change hands so that you work on your balance skills on both sides of your body.
9: Wall Push-ups
As long as you’ve got a wall, you can do this strength training exercise.
Stand arm's length in front of a wall that doesn’t have any paintings, decorations, windows or doors. Lean forward slightly and put your palms flat on the wall at the height and width of your shoulders. Keep your feet planted as you slowly bring your body towards the wall. Gently push yourself back so that your arms are straight. Do 5 - 20 of these.
10: Marching in Place
Marching is a great balance exercise. If you need to hold onto something, do this exercise in front of a counter.Standing straight, lift your right knee as high as you can. Lower it, then lift the left leg. Lift and lower your legs 10 - 20 times.
11: Toe Lifts
This strength training exercise also improves balance.
Stand straight and put your arms in front of you using a counter or steady chair for support. Raise yourself up on your toes as high as you can go, then gently lower yourself. Be careful not to lean too far forward on the chair or counter.
Lift and lower yourself 10 - 20 times.
12: Shoulder Rolls
This is a simple exercise be done seated or standing anytime.
Rotate your shoulders gently up to the ceiling, then back and down. Next, do the same thing, but roll them forwards and then down.
13: Hand and Finger Exercises
The following are exercises to improve flexibility. These can be done while sitting.
The first exercise, pretend there’s a wall in front of you. Your fingers will climb the wall until they’re above your head. While holding your arms above your head, wiggle your fingers for ten seconds. Then, walk them back down.
The second exercise, touch your hands while they’re behind your back. Reach with your left hand while your right hand is behind your back. Hold that position for ten seconds, then try with your other arm.
14: Calf Stretches
These strength training exercises can be performed sitting or standing.
To do calf stretches while standing, find a wall with nothing on it. Stand facing the wall with your hands at eye level. Place your left leg behind your right leg. Keep your left heel on the floor and bend your right knee. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 2 to 4 times per leg.
If you want to stretch your calves while sitting, you’ll need a towel. Sit on the floor or bed with your legs straight. Put the towel around the soles of your right foot and hold both ends. Pull the towel towards you while keeping your knee straight and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise two to four times per leg.
NOTE: Before beginning a new exercise routine, please consult your doctor.