According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one-third of adults aged 65 and over fall yearly. These falls can lead to serious injuries, such as hip fractures and head trauma, and can even be fatal.
Even for younger adults, falling can be a big problem, especially for people with obesity, joint pain, or other conditions that may affect balance and stability.
The good news is that you can do some easy things to improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling.
Practice Standing On One Leg
One of the simplest ways to improve your balance is to practice standing on one leg.
Before you begin, make sure you have something stable nearby that you can grab onto if you start to lose your balance.
Look at something a few feet in front of you, and try to keep your hands at your hips as you raise one leg off the ground. Hold this position for as long as possible, then repeat with the other leg.
As you get more confident in your abilities, you can try this with your eyes closed for an added challenge.
Walking Heel To Toe
Some people may be familiar with this exercise from roadside DUI tests, but it’s also a great practice to improve your balance and coordination.
Start by placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of your other foot. Then, take a step forward with your other foot, keeping the heel-to-toe placement.
Continue walking in this manner in a straight line. Try to keep your hands by your side and your gaze focused on a point in front of you.
Practice next to a wall or another stable object in case you lose your balance or have someone nearby who can catch you if needed.
When you are ready for a more difficult challenge, try this exercise with your eyes closed.
Balance is not only about coordination but also about strength. When your muscles are strong, they can better support your joints and help you maintain your balance.
Lifting heavy weights at the gym is one option, but even simple exercises like squats and lunges can help improve your strength, balance, and stability.
Sitting On An Exercise Ball
An exercise ball, sometimes called a stability ball, is a great tool to help improve your balance.
The ball’s instability forces your body to make small adjustments to keep you from falling off. This helps improve your proprioception, or your body’s ability to know where it is in space, and strengthen your core muscles that help maintain your balance.
For added benefit, many balance training programs incorporate dual-task training, which involves attending to another task while trying to maintain your balance. This could be like tossing a ball or balloon up in the air and catching it or kicking a ball back and forth with someone across the room.
Any Physical Activity
A sedentary lifestyle involving minimal physical activity can lead to several health problems, including an increased risk of falling.
This is why it’s essential to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk around the block.
This could also be playing a sport with friends, having fun with your kids or grandkids, or even taking a dance class.
The important thing is to find something you enjoy, which gets your body moving regularly.