Many of us take balance for granted, but as we get older, it becomes more of a challenge to remain upright. Our stride becomes shorter, we walk slower and our muscles and vision begin to weaken. All of these factors contribute to diminished balance, which can increase susceptibility to falls and related injuries. In fact, one in three adults over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, some with devastating results. Fortunately, people can maintain good balance with healthy habits and an active lifestyle. Three exercises in particular help improve and preserve good balance.
- Heel-To-Toe Walk: Perform this exercise in a wide open area or hallway. Holding arms slightly or all the way out to the sides, take a step with one foot and place the heel of the other directly in front. Find a focal point ahead, and repeat stepping this way for 20 steps. For even more challenge, walk backward toe-to-heel for 20 more steps.
- Leg Swings: With your arms at your sides, stand on the left leg and swing the right leg forward and back ten times without touching the floor. Switch to standing on the right leg and swing the left leg ten times. Next, hold arms out to the side, stand on the left leg and swing the right leg slightly in front of the right leg and out to the side without touching the floor. Perform a total of ten swings and repeat on the other side.
- Wobble Board Training: Certain thingamajigs make practicing healthy habits fun. A wobble board features a flat surface in a round or rectangular design over one or two cylinders. Standing on a wobble board helps improve balance, build lower-body strength and enhance focus. When it comes to balance, more practice on the board delivers better results.
As with flexibility or strength, balance improves with practice, but balance exercises aren't just for the elderly. People who work on balance training early in life enjoy an active lifestyle well into the golden years. Adding the exercises above to your list of healthy habits helps ensure more stability on your feet and the confidence to take on exciting active challenges.