There are some obvious and some not-so-obvious changes in your body as you age. The not-so-obvious ones are things like muscles that have lost their strength and mass and flexibility, and your reaction time diminishes.
You may begin to move slower, take shorter steps when walking, and be extra careful so you don’t fall. Falling is something many seniors are afraid of and with very good reason. Getting off balance and taking a fall can mean a fracture or broken hip.
Physical factors that can create instability and throw you off balance include:
- Carrying excess weight
- Inactivity and poor mobility
- Eating an unhealthy diet, causing deficiencies of essential vitamins and minerals
- Health conditions and medications.
Here are some tips to keep you on your feet:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Build your diet based on your nutritional requirements
- Get plenty of quality sleep
- Drink plenty of water
- Stretch every day.
Last but not least, exercise, exercise, exercise! You might be worried about the type and length of your exercise routines, so please consult your doctor first, especially if you have a previous or present medical condition. If you do have a medical condition, don’t think you shouldn’t exercise, it’s vital for health, and to maintain your balance and mobility.
Exercise and physical activities can improve not only your balance but many illnesses, as exercise is part of many disease management programs. Therefore, keep moving to strengthen your body.
Exercises for Improving Balance
Here are some recommended exercises for you to improve your balance and coordination:
Heel to Toe Walk
This is a simple exercise that helps keep your legs and back strong and stable. Start in an upright position, both your feet close together and firmly on the floor. Place your right foot in front of your left so they are aligned with your right heel in front of your left toes. Move your foot in such a way that you’re putting the weight on your heel.
You can repeat the process with your left and alternate making the steps with both of your feet until you make 20 steps. To have a bit of fun, imagine walking like a model, or walking on a tight rope. Keep one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, heel to toe, and allow your hips to swing from side to side to exert a little mild pressure on your spine.
Toe Lifts or Calf Raises
This exercise builds the muscles in your calves, legs, and thighs and strengthens the joints of your knees and toes. Stand in front of a benchtop or counter, or a sturdy chair and put your hands on it for support. Don’t lean forward. Raise up on your toes as far as you can go then lower yourself slowly. Repeat the process 20 times.
Side Leg Raise
Side leg raises to strengthen your hip muscles and joints and correct your posture. It strengthens the groin muscles too. Stand and take your position behind a counter or a sturdy chair for support. Place your feet slightly apart and keep your back straight.
Slowly raise one leg out to the side, your toes pointing forward. Keep your other leg slightly bent at the knee, so you don’t put undue pressure on the knee. Alternate with the other leg 10 to 15 times and repeat the process.
Important to Remember
While doing these exercises, it’s important to remember to breathe deeply. Deep breathing delivers oxygen to your muscles and helps increase your lung capacity. Plus, you make your workout and post-workout recovery faster.
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