Ideas for seniors to improve balance


Q: I am looking for ways to help my mother improve her balance. She is able to do some exercises now, but her legs get tired easily. Any ideas would be welcomed.

A: Along with regular resistance training and cardiovascular exercise, it is important for everyone to work on maintaining or improving their balance and stability. As we age, strength and balance normally decrease, which increases the risk of falls. Each year falls happen to one in every three Americans 65 and older, and falls are the leading cause of injury for this group.

Move for Balance is one of the best programs I’ve seen for teaching elders and those who care for them how to prevent injuries from falls. Move for Balance activities facilitate eye-brain-body connections through specific movements which in turn, promote communication among nerve cells and functional centers in the sensory motor system.

At first, the Move for Balance movements may be slow and difficult for elders. Their nervous systems may feel a sense of chaos while they are learning. However, after they have practiced and repeated the movements, new neural pathways are laid down. The now-improved brain puts those movements on automatic pilot.

You can learn more about the Move for Balance Program at www.movewithbalance.org

Balance exercises

Single leg stand: Standing, hold onto the back of a chair with one or both two hands (beginner), with your fingertips (intermediate) or without holding on (advanced). Bend the knee and lift one leg slightly off the floor while trying to maintain your balance. Count the number of seconds you are able to hold this position. Repeat five times per leg.

Intermediate single leg stand: Perform the exercise without holding onto a chair, and move the leg to the front, then to the side, and to the back.

Advanced: Perform the exercise with eyes closed. This can be very difficult, and so for safety, have someone with you, or stand close to a wall or other sturdy surface in the event you become unsteady.

Heel-to-toe walk: Start by placing the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the opposite foot each time you take a step. With every step, heel and toes should touch or nearly touch. Try to look straight ahead as you are performing the exercise. Intermediate: Looking straight ahead, walk heel to toe forward 10 steps and then backward 10 steps. Advanced: Attempt to walk heel to toe with eyes closed.

It’s a good idea to keep a log of various movements and exercises to help you monitor progress, such as how long you are able to stand on each leg. Record your scores at least once weekly for a month.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

Medical debt relief is coming
Medical debt relief is coming

After more than two years of delays, new rules granting consumers some relief from the harm medical debt can do to their credit will finally go into effect. Beginning Sept. 15, the three main credit bureaus will enact rules they agreed to back in 2015 that require them to provide a 180-day cooling off period before any medical debt goes onto a credit...
50 local restaurants serving up a week’s worth of special deals next week
50 local restaurants serving up a week’s worth of special deals next week

Get your forks ready. The Summer Restaurant Week promotion runs July 23-30 offering meals from nearly 50 restaurants across the Dayton area ranging in price from $20.17-$30.17. The restaurant week promotion was established more than a decade ago as a way to generate interest traffic to local restaurants and help give diners a chance to explore the...
Today’s heroic movies raise lots of super questions
Today’s heroic movies raise lots of super questions

First off, I don’t understand why people call him “Spidey.” They don’t call Superman “Supey.” Or Batman “Batty.” And yet just about everybody, up to and including a headline in The New York Times about the latest Spider-Man movie, referred to the adolescent superhero as “Spidey.” Leaving aside...
Envelopes can fix your budget

There are so many people who’ve tried every budgeting tip and trick in the book but still can’t seem to figure out how to handle their money by themselves. It’s just not a natural tendency for most people. If you’re in this situation and maybe have been for a while, there’s a “scared straight” kind of technique...
4 breathtaking waterfalls near Dayton you must visit this summer
4 breathtaking waterfalls near Dayton you must visit this summer

Everyone knows TLC’s famous words of advice, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls.” But we think it’s in your best interest to do exactly the opposite.  Summer is the perfect time to do a little waterfall adventuring to cool off and unwind.  Perhaps surprising to many people even from the Dayton-area, there are...
More Stories