If you have done any geriatric physical therapy exercises, chances are you know the importance of balance. Balance plays a major role in our everyday lives and like many other physical abilities, balance can diminish overtime as we age. Being confident in your balance is important as you move around, both at home and away from home.
As a senior you know the risk associated with slipping and falling. Having the confidence to walk about freely and perform everyday activities like bathing or showering may require some work as your body goes through the natural aging process.
Balance exercises for seniors are part of an overall regimen of geriatric physical therapy exercises and can give you the confidence and stability you need to stay active and independent as you age. Although balance and stability are two things that generally decline with age, there are ways to counteract that and to improve mobility. If you think this is a large undertaking, you may be surprised to hear that there are 5-minute balance exercises for seniors that are effective and easy to do!
Before beginning any new exercises or exercise program be sure to check with your doctor or health care professional to ensure that you will be able to complete the exercises safely without any increased risk of injury. Whether you are recovering from an injury or simply find the need to restore your balance and stability, these geriatric physical therapy exercises could be just the thing to get you moving and feeling good.
5-Minute Balance Exercises for Seniors: 9 Options
- Single Leg Stance – For this exercise please use a chair, wall, hold bar or other sturdy support. Stand parallel to your support and with one hand gently but firmly holding the support lift your right foot off the ground. You can choose to lift it completely off the ground, or, if you prefer to begin gradually you can simply shift the majority of your weight onto your left foot, perhaps even lifting your right foot, but leaving your big toe or your heel touching the floor. Hold this posture and notice if you feel unstable. Your goal should be to gently and slowly lower your right foot back to the ground softly. Take a moment to walk out your feet and switch sides.
- Leg Shifts – Plant your feet firmly on the ground, hips-width apart. For this exercise, keep your back straight, shoulders back and your gaze directly in front of you. This leg shift is a variation of the single leg stance. Simply shift your weight from one foot to the other, holding for several seconds in between, shifting your weight completely from one foot to the other.
- Heel-to-Toe Walk – Standing nearby to a wall and with one hand on the wall for support begin walking heel-to-toe. Slowly moving one foot directly in front of the other. Put your right foot in front of your left so your heel and toe are just brushing. As you walk, shift your body weight from your heel to toe.
- Backward Leg Raises – Use a chair in front of you for support. Stand up straight with your feet planted firmly shoulder-width apart, holding the chair in front of you for support, slowly lift your right leg out behind you. Keep your leg straight and avoid bending your knee. You do not need to go far back to feel the benefits of this exercise. Holding the position will work your bottom and lower back. Repeat with the left leg and work up to ten repetitions, perhaps noticing any change in how far back your leg naturally reaches.
- Knee Lifts – This exercise can be done as slowly or as quickly as you safely can. Standing near a counter or wall, simply lift one knee as high as you can without straining yourself and then return that leg to standing and switch sides. You can think of this as a marching exercise.
- Toe Stand – Standing with your feet planted firmly shoulder-width apart gently shift your weight from your heels to your toes and lift your heels up off the ground so that you are standing on your toes to the extent that is safe for you. Be sure to do this exercise standing near a wall, chair or counter.
- Heel Stand – This exercise will be done exactly the same way as the toe stands, only you will shift the weight of your body from your toes to your heel and lift your toes up off the ground until you are balancing on your heels. If physically lifting your toes off the ground to stand on your heels is not accessible for you, you can simply shift all of the weight from the toes to the heels, concentrating on the heels as they steadily hold the weight of your body.
- Calf Stretch – It can feel really good to stretch your leg muscles out after some of these exercises. Stand facing a wall and push the toes of your right foot against the wall to stretch the calves. Repeat on the left side. You can hold this stretch for as little or as long as you like.
- Walk It Out – You can walk it out at the end of your exercise routine or even in between each exercise. It can be a fun and silly way to give your body a break. Shake out your hands and arms and lift your feet, one at a time, to shake them out.
Targeted activity is essential for the health of our bodies (and minds!) as we age. The Cano Health team is here to help with geriatric physical therapy exercises. We seek to ensure that you are as safe and comfortable as possible – while gently pushing yourself to new levels of fitness. Contact us today to learn more.