When it comes to healthy habits, few people think of taking steps to improve balance. However, making good balance a priority can help boost quality of life well into the golden years. With age, muscles get weaker and the stride becomes shorter. Add in worsening vision and susceptibility for a serious fall rises. In fact, one out of every three adults over the age of 65 suffers a serious fall each year. Staying physically active can help. Here are three specific exercises to build better balance.
- Heel-to-Toe Walk: A long hallway makes a great space in which to perform this exercise. Start by taking a step with one foot, and place the heel of the other foot directly in front of the toes. Focusing on a spot ahead, continue walking heel-to-toe for 20 steps. For more challenge, try walking backwards 20 steps toe-to-heel.
- Stand on One Foot: Standing on one foot is easy, or is it? Using a chair back for support if needed, stand on one foot for a count of 15 seconds and repeat with the other foot. Complete five sets of this exercise with each foot.
- Balance Walk: This is a modified version of the heel-to-toe-walk. Raise the arms to shoulder height at the sides, palms down. Focus on a spot ahead and walk in a straight line, placing one foot in front of the other, but with a normal (not heel-to-toe) stride. With each step, lift the leg, hold and balance for one second before stepping. Do two sets of 20 steps.
When it comes to quality of life as we age, it helps to engage in healthy habits like building better balance. Many people take good balance for granted, but it is wise to take steps to improve it. The three exercises above can help. By increasing muscle mass and improving upright stability, performing balance-boosting exercises promotes better mobility and keeps people active and injury-free through age 65 and beyond.