Balance and coordination are concerns for older adults as the vision and muscle loss that accompanies aging affects the way they move, making them more vulnerable to falling.
This usually comes on gradually, but the process is thought to begin as early as age 30. It’s in everyone’s interest to develop and protect their sense of balance to minimize the effect aging can have on this skill.
Here are a few exercises that can point you in the right direction.
Standing on one leg
Stand on your right leg and lift your knee to about hip level to hold for 5 seconds, progressing to 10 seconds. Place foot back on the floor and then repeat on the other side for one rep. Do this movement five times on each side.
Try to do this during light activity like washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, and once you’re able to be stable for 30 seconds, stand on a step, cushion or other object to increase the difficulty.
Also do lateral leg lifts, holding each leg out to the side for similar intervals.
Once you’ve mastered these tasks, have someone toss you an object while you’re standing on one leg.
Root your feet onto the floor, then slowly raise your left leg. Place your left foot above your right knee onto your inner thigh, keeping your right leg straight but not locked at the knee.
Keep your gaze on a fixed point and breathe, holding the position for five to 10 breaths. Return your foot to the floor and repeat with right leg.
From a standing position, stand on your left foot while raising your right knee up to hip level, then slowly bend your left leg to lower your trunk toward the floor. Try to keep your left toes flat on the floor and hold for at least 5 seconds.
Repeat on other leg, alternating for five reps. Once you’ve mastered this exercise, do five consecutive squats on each leg before switching to the other for improved muscle toning.