Why Should Senior Citizens Perform Balance Exercises?

Last Updated: 28.05.20

 

Aging comes with certain physical challenges and reduced mobility is one of them. Check out these reviews of front closure bras for more details regarding products that can help senior citizens deal with some of these challenges. Balance is another critical aspect that has a strong impact on the health and wellbeing of all people, as they get older.

Good balance is an important part of overall health and it’s even more important for senior citizens, because of several factors that make them more vulnerable to a lack of balance. On the other hand, practicing balance exercises on a regular basis can help them not only prevent possible accidents or health issues but even improve their physical fitness.

 

Why is balance important for health?

Most people associate fitness only with strength and a great-looking body. However, balance is the foundation that makes it all possible. Without balance, strength would be useless. Just as everything in life should be properly balanced, our body needs the same type of equilibrium. Balance is often overlooked, although it is actually essential for our daily activities. 

From toddlers who are just learning to walk to senior citizens, everybody needs the ability to control their moves. We would not be able to have an active life without this kinesthetic awareness. Being aware of our body, our movements and of the way we relate to our environment is essential for having correct reactions and protecting ourselves from possible injuries.

The most important function of balance is that it prevents accidents and injuries. No matter if you are an athlete, a former athlete or a regular person, you are always at the risk of a fall or a sprain. Good balance is the only way to prevent these risks as much as possible, especially at an old age, when these risks are increased. Injury prevention is the main benefit of a good balance.

As we said, balance is the foundation of fitness. By working on your balance, you are actually engaging several muscle groups and learning to control moves that are interconnected. All of us have muscles that are being used too little and that can be reawakened through balance exercises. Balance is necessary for a correct posture as well. Plus, it helps increase our strength.

Balance allows us to enjoy a wider range of activities and not feel restrained by physical limitations. Just as athletes with a great balance can improve their performance, people with a good balance can have more confidence when walking, climbing down the stairs, crossing the street and so on. 

Balance also means independence and freedom of movement, without the help of different items or people.

The benefits of balance go even beyond physical fitness. Studies have shown that working on your balance has a positive impact on cognitive functions as well. Especially people who experience memory loss can benefit greatly from improving their balance, which will also improve brain functions.

Seniors and balance problems

Every person needs to have a good balance and anybody can experience some type of balance disorder. However, seniors are particularly vulnerable because balance problems can have a stronger impact on their health, with serious consequences. According to statistics, balance disorders are one of the most common health issues of people over the age of 65. 

Plus, for the same age group, falls are the number one cause of injuries, including hip fractures, which are some of the most dangerous types of injuries. And the lack of balance is a huge factor in increasing the risk of falls. That is why not having proper balance is significantly more dangerous for people over 65. Both men and women have an increased risk of falling, as they age.

On the other hand, seniors are more vulnerable because of other factors that can alter their balance. Having a poor vision or muscles that haven’t been used in a long time can also impact the ability to walk, stand or climb. Also, obesity is another factor that can affect balance as well. Balance problems can cause injuries but can also be caused by previous accidents. 

Decreased joint flexibility, which comes with old age, is another factor that has a negative impact on balance. Any dysfunction of the inner ear, which is more frequent for people over 65, can also affect their ability to maintain their balance. Alcohol consumption and different medications can also make seniors experience balance problems.

 

Symptoms of balance problems

Senior citizens become worried about their balance when they feel that they cannot stand or walk steadily. Also, dizziness and a spinning sensation are commonly associated with a lack of balance. If these symptoms persist, it’s important for seniors to visit their healthcare providers, because establishing the right diagnosis and determining the precise causes is crucial. 

Keep in mind that experiencing balance problems can even be related to mental factors, such as anxiety, or physical factors such as low blood pressure. However, they can also be the symptom of a severe health condition.

Immediate measures should be taken for seniors who experience a loss of balance together with a severe headache, blurred vision, chest pains, arm weakness, head injuries or sudden changes in their heart rate.

Benefits of balance exercises for senior citizens

Because seniors are at a higher risk of falling due to a lack of balance and also have specific health conditions that can decrease their ability to maintain their balance, balance improvement should be a priority for them. Balance can be improved through different fun activities throughout the day. However, having a regular routine of proper balance exercises is highly advised.

Senior citizens who perform balance exercises on a regular basis are able to complete daily tasks such as tying their shoes, making the bed, reaching shelves that are higher, or going down the stairs. Also, they are able to feel more confident when walking, crossing the street, gardening or taking small walks, without the help of a cane or of someone. 

Balance exercises improve their cognitive functions as well, such as memory and mental clarity, and even help with muscle toning and calorie burning. Most of all, performing the right balance exercises can help senior citizens prevent falls and the risk of injuring themselves. Plus, these types of exercises are easy to learn and practice, without special equipment except for proper footwear.

Depending on their current physical fitness, seniors have a wide variety of balance exercises to choose from, ranging from basic level routines to more complex training. Tai Chi and certain yoga postures can also be of great help. Adding foot massages to their balance exercises routine is also a good idea because it stimulates the nervous system and improves ankle flexibility.

Consistency is key. It’s better to practice four or five balance exercises daily than to try to perform a complicated routine once in a while. The good thing about balance is that it can be improved, with perseverance and patience. In special cases, supervision may be required but most of the exercises are simple enough to be safely performed at home.

 

Easy balance exercises for seniors

For beginners, simple balance exercises are the best. The ‘tightrope walk’ is an easy exercise that improves balance and posture. Simply extend your arms parallel to the floor and walk in a straight line, without rushing. Try to keep your arms straight and your head straight, looking straight ahead. Do the tightrope walk for 15 to 20 steps.

Another excellent balance exercise is ‘rock the boat’. Stand up straight, with your arms extended to the sides. Raise one foot, bring your leg up and hold it a few seconds. Then switch to the other leg. Alternate these moves 5 times while keeping your arms raised to the sides and looking straight ahead.

The ‘heel-toe walk’ requires a bit more flexibility. Place one foot in front of the other, close enough for the toes of the back foot to touch the front heel. Try to take 15 steps this way, with your heel and your toes getting as close as possible.

Lastly, seniors can try the ‘flamingo stand’. For this exercise, you obviously have to stand on one leg, like a flamingo, and also stretch the other leg forward, while keeping your hands on some type of support, such as a chair. It’s very important to keep your back and your head straight. Hold the leg forward for 15 seconds.

 

 

Ioana Moldovan

Ioana is a lifelong learner with extensive work experience in the public health field. She is passionate about science and psychology and is constantly curious about how these can change people’s lives for the better. Her goal is to gather valuable information that can help her readers.

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