Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults that can have serious consequences. Many lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance. Exercises to improve your balance include Tai Chi, a “moving meditation” that involves shifting the body slowly, gently, and precisely, while breathing deeply.
Examples of balance exercises:
Try standing on one foot, then the other. If at first you need support, hold on to something sturdy.
- Work your way up to doing this movement without support.
- Get up from a chair without using your hands or arms.
- Try the heel-to-toe walk.
- As you walk, put the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of your other foot.
- Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
- Have a sturdy chair or a person nearby to hold on to if you feel unsteady.
- Talk with your doctor if you are unsure about a particular exercise.
“Each morning, I join a group at the local senior center. We practice tai chi for about an hour. We start with a gentle warm-up and breathing exercises. Our instructor leads us step-by-step through certain movements. We then end with cooling down exercises. This class helps keep my arthritis under control. It has also reduced my fear of falling.”