Balance exercises can help prevent falls, especially among older adults. But before you begin any exercise program, always consult your doctor.
The American Council on Exercise mentions these common balance exercises for active older adults:
- Side X Balance Reach -- Stand on the right leg and lean the body toward the right. Point the right shoulder toward the sky. The body makes half of an "X" shape. Touch down as needed with the left toes. Continue balancing on this side for up to two minutes, then change sides.
- Stand and Twist -- Begin standing on the left leg and raise the right knee up until the upper thigh is parallel to the floor. You can modify by raising just the heel of the right foot. Bring the hands together in a prayer position, then point the fingers forward, away from the body. Twist to the right and left making a large infinity design with the hands.
- Raised Hinge -- With the feet placed about hip-width distance apart, raise the left heel and decrease contact points with the floor. With the hands at the hips, slowly fold forward over the hands, flexing at the hips but not at the spine. Keep the spine as extended as possible. Flex the knees if the hamstrings are tight.
- Squat and Twist -- Start with the feet set hip-width apart. Lower to a sitting position; keep the toes within view to minimize how much the knees project forward. Lean against a wall while lowering, being sure to start with the feet far enough away from the wall so that the knees still stay behind the toes in a lowered position. Bring the hands behind the head so the elbows are flexed, pointing to the sides.
- Active Lat Stretch -- Sit back into the squat position described in the Squat and Twist exercise, using the wall for support. Slide the arms and thumbs up and down the wall slowly for one minute.
- Standing Twist Lunge -- Place a chair to the side for support, if needed. Start with the feet together and step forward with the left foot to bring the left upper thigh parallel to the floor. With the right hand behind the head and the elbow flexed and pointing to the side, twist to the left, trying to keep the spine as extended as possible.
- Standing "X" Skating Balance Reach -- Stand with the feet about shoulder-distance apart with a chair in front for support, if necessary. Flex the left shoulder forward and up, and simultaneously extend the right hip, making a contralateral half of the letter "X." Slowly lower to a starting position and repeat on the other side. Continue this movement for up to two minutes.
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