3 Best Balance Exercises For Seniors To Improve Balance At Home

Having good balance is important at any age, but it's particularly important for seniors.  As you age, the consequence of falling get much more serious.  Watch the video below to learn the 3 best balance exercises for seniors to improve balance at home

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Why Is It Important For Seniors To Improve Balance?

About one in every four people aged 65 and above falls every year.

Unfortunately, having a fall puts you at a significantly higher risk of dying within the next year.

You don't have to wait until you're 65 to start to improve your balance though.

If you do feel a little bit unsteady on your feet, particularly if you're 65 plus, here are the 3 best exercises for seniors to improve balance at home.

#1 Best Balance Exercise For Seniors

The number one balance exercise for seniors is standing on one leg.

best balance exercise for seniors is single leg balance

The ability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds or longer predicts a decreased risk in mortality rate or death rate among seniors middle-aged adults according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

Now, when you're practicing this, particularly if you do have less than optimal balance to begin with, it is important to hold on to something.

As you can see in the picture above, I'm holding on to a folding chair, but you really want to hold on to something sturdy. Hold on to a counter or the back of a couch or something else that's not going to tip over if you lose your balance.

When standing on one leg, lift one leg up off the floor and make sure that you're able to keep your belt line level with the floor.

You don't want to see your hip dip down like that or see your knee rotate inwards.

Make sure to keep your pelvis level.

pelvis level single leg stance exercise for hip arthritis

If you're not strong enough to do that or if you have some hip pain, you can start out with a toe touch on the ground.

Then gradually take some pressure off until you're able to stand with your full body weight on one leg.

As your balance improves, slowly start releasing from the surface that you're holding on to.

You can do this exercise facing the counter holding on with two hands.  That will make this exercise a little bit easier.

Or, you can do it facing sideways to a counter or a chair with one hand.

It is significantly easier to hold on with the opposite hand as the side you're standing on. You'll have the tendency tip over away from your stance leg because gravity is going to pull you that way.

Holding on with the hand on the same side as your stance leg still gives you another contact point to help your brain realize where you are in space, but it's not going to help your hip muscles quite as much.

Why is this the BEST balance exercise for seniors?

This is really the best balance exercise for seniors because most falls don't happen when you have two feet on the ground.

Fall in the elderly usually happen when you're walking, going up and down stairs, going over a curb, or when you're taking a step.

So first get really good at balancing on one leg. Ideally, get to the point where you can balance without holding on, without wobbling, and without allowing your pelvis to drop.

The next two balance exercises that follow are just progressions on this.

#2 Best Balance Exercise For Seniors

The second best balance exercise for seniors is to improve your balance while marching with one leg while balancing on the other.

balance exercise for seniors high knee step

You can start to do this before you have full balance on one leg by holding on with your hand.

It's not just marching in place.

Try to lift your leg up pretty high.

What that does is it helps strengthen your hip flexors on the marching side so that you have the strength to lift your leg up to go up stairs.

It also helps you strengthen your glutes or your butt muscles on the side that you're standing on.  Your glute muscles are working to maintain your pelvis level while you lift the other leg.

As you lift the leg up high, it actually kind of stretches your hip flexors on your stance side as well.

So this balance exercise strengthens the hip flexors on one side and strengthens the glutes and stretches the hip flexors on the opposite side.

Again, start out holding on and lifting one leg HIGH, as if you're going upstairs or going up a curb.

Over-exaggerate the movement.

You don't have to lift this high to go up a stair or to go up a curb, but if you can do this without tripping, then when you have to go up a normal size step, you know you'll be able to do it without tripping.

So that's the second best balance exercise for seniors.

#3 Best Balance Exercise For Seniors

The third balance exercise is for the opposite aspect of stairs - namely going down the stairs.

When you're going down the stairs, you need to be able to balance on one leg and step down with the other one.

Again, it's easier to hold on with the opposite hand as the side you're standing on.

Then do a mini-squat on one leg as if going down stairs.

dbalance exercise for seniors single leg minisquat

With this exercise, the deeper down you go, the harder this gets. So it is a little bit of a strengthening exercise as well as a balance exercise.

Start out by just doing mini-squats and then get deeper as if your actually going down a step.

You can also do a different variation of this where you have the non-weightbearing leg behind you.

balance exercise for seniors single leg mini-squat leg behind

This more realistically is more like going up a step, which is also important for seniors.


Here's a summary of the Top 3 Balance Exercises Seniors:

standing and balancing on one leg

being able to do high knees when you're standing on one leg

being able to do little mini squats.

With all of these balance exercises, start out holding on. Then as your balance improves, you can start to decrease how much you're holding on or even go without holding on.

But always put safety first!

If you need help for your balance to be more steady on your feet and reduce your risk of falling, we'd be happy to help.

Just tap the button below to request a Balance & Fall Risk Assessment with one of our specialist physical therapists.

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