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:
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.
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.