Yes, You Can Improve Your Balance!
Dec 27, 2017
Maintaining or improving good balance as you age is one of the best things you can do for your well-being. Although none of us like to think of ourselves as having “old people’s problems,” balance starts to deteriorate as early as your 50’s. But don’t worry—you can improve your balance!
Balance is Crucial to Staying Healthy
Poor balance triggers many falls in adults, and falls can lead to devastating consequences.
- Every year at least one out of three people over the age of 65 falls
- Falls are the number one cause of serious brain injuries
- 2.5 million people seek emergency care for falls every year in the U.S.
- More than 90% of all hip fractures are the result of a fall
- Each year, thousands of older Americans die as a result of breaking a hip
- A common factor in decreased balance is simply inactivity
The Good News
Studies show that balance exercises reduce not only the rate of falls, but also reduce injuries that happen if you do fall. Balance is just like muscle strength—the more you use it, the less likely you are to lose it.
Tapestry Can Help!
As a Tapestry resident, you have access every week to two of the most beneficial exercises for improving balance: tai chi and yoga. Both have been shown to increase balance with regular practice.
You can find the schedule of classes in Tapestry’s current monthly newsletter which you can access online. On the website, click News and Events. From there, scroll to the bottom of the page and select View Calendar. When the newsletter opens, click the right arrow to turn the page and see the calendar.
Balance Exercises to Do on Your Own
Between your tai chi and yoga classes at Tapestry, here are a couple of good balance exercises you can do on your own.
1) Stand up straight with your feet together and weight evenly distributed on both feet. Put your arms at your sides.
2) Lift your right foot behind you, bending your knee, and balance on your left leg. Hold this position for as long as you can. Five seconds is a good start; aim for 30 seconds.
3) Lower your foot to the starting position.
4) Repeat with your left leg. This completes one rep.
5) Repeat for several reps.
As you do this exercise, focus on a spot straight ahead. Try to maintain good posture throughout by keeping your chest lifted, your shoulders relaxed, and your abdominal muscles tightened. And don’t forget to breathe!
At the beginning, hold onto the back of a chair for support. As your balance increases, let go of the chair. As you get better at it, hold the leg lift for 60 seconds.
Standing Side Leg Lift:
1) Stand up straight behind a chair, holding the back of it with both hands. Put your feet together and evenly distribute your weight on both feet.
2) Slowly left your right leg straight out to the side, about 6 inches from the floor. Hold this position.
3) Return to starting position, and then repeat with the left leg. This completes one rep.
4) Repeat for several reps.
Exhale as you lift your leg. Keep your shoulders and hips aligned throughout the exercise.
As you get better, hold your leg out for up to eight seconds, hold it higher off the floor, or close your eyes.
It’s Never Too Late to Improve Your Balance
Even if your balance has declined, it’s never too late to begin improving it through exercise. With practice, everyone can achieve better balance, and Tapestry is here to help you do just that!