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Life in Motion

Tips to Increase Your Balance

Health & Prevention

As we age, preventing falls is crucial to staying healthy, as falls are the leading cause of injury to seniors in the United States. One way that you can decrease your risk for a fall is by improving your balance. Our ability to balance is reduced as we age due to loss of muscle strength and joint flexibility, as well as reduced vision and reaction time. NEBH Physical Therapists recommend the following tips to increase your balance.

Maintain a Regular Exercise Routine

One of the best things you can do to increase your balance is to maintain a regular exercise routine. If you aren’t in the habit of regular exercise, starting with something as simple as walking is a good idea. Walking helps build lower-body strength, an important element of good balance. In addition to improving balance, walking can improve heart, bone and mental health. There are also many balance-specific exercises you can try at home:

Practice balancing on one leg: 

  • Stand next to a counter or other stable surface to start.
  • Start by holding onto the counter for support then lift one foot off the floor.
  • Hold on as little as necessary for support.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Balance often isn’t the same for both legs, so you may find this exercise more challenging on one side. You can start this exercise while wearing shoes and then progress to performing barefoot. Once you can balance for 30 seconds without shoes, to increase the difficulty, try to balance with your eyes closed.

Hip strengthening: 

  • Stand next to a counter or other stable surface to start. Begin by marching in place (bringing your knees up high).
  • Alternate legs and perform 2-3 sets of 10.
  • Hip Abduction: While facing the counter, bring one leg out to the side with the toes pointing forward.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10 on each side.
  • Hip Extension: Still facing the counter, stand up tall and bring one leg behind you.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10.

Note: you can add ankle weights or resistance bands to increase the difficulty of these exercises. Also, notice you are standing on one leg while performing these exercises which challenges your balance while also strengthening.

Yoga and tai chi are also great ways to improve your balance.

Have Your Eyes Checked

Even small changes in sight can lead to a fall. If you get new eyeglasses or contact lenses, take time to get used to them, and always wear them when directed to.

Get Enough Sleep

Those who are tired or drowsy are more likely to fall, so do you best to make sure you are getting enough rest each night.

Wear Proper Footwear

Footwear affects your balance. Wear supportive shoes that fit correctly and have nonskid soles. Avoid high heels and floppy slippers without backs. Walking in socks can also make you more likely to slip.

The number one predictor for falls is whether or not you’ve fallen in the past.  If you have fallen recently or have felt unsteady, talk to your doctor about personalized strategies to help keep your balance.

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