As the body ages, loss of physical ability occurs. With every passing year, strength, flexibility, and endurance slowly erode. For seniors, counteracting these negative effects as best as possible is vital. Taking an active approach to fighting aging by regularly exercising is an absolute must.
It’s not all about strength and cardiovascular performance, though. As important as those areas are, there is one often overlooked element of fitness that becomes crucial for older folks: balance.
For younger people, balance is not of particular importance. Staying upright simply isn’t an issue for most of a person’s life. However, in the senior years, balance and bodily stability can become major problems. Poor balance can make many simple tasks more difficult, significantly worsening quality of life.
More dangerously, bad balance makes falls much more likely. Falls can result in broken bones and other serious injuries which may trigger an irreversible physical decline. Minimizing the risk of falls should be a priority for older adults.
There are four exercises that seniors should practice to maintain and even improve their balance. These exercises will also improve coordination and provide a mild aerobic workout.
Walking the Line
Simply taking a few dozen steps walking heel to toe, with the hands extended at the sides, will help older folks retain their coordination and balance. Any sort of straight line on the floor can be used for this exercise.
This simple exercise requires nothing more than marching in place. Bringing the knee up as high as you comfortably can will enhance balance. Performing this exercise quickly will ensure a decent aerobic workout is also provided.
Calf stretches are performed from a standing position. Push yourself up on your toes as high as is comfortable, then slowly drop your heels back to the floor. Calf stretches improve leg strength as well as balance.
From a standing position, perform a lunge by moving one foot forward and bending at the knee until the upper leg is horizontally aligned. This classic exercise move is particularly valuable for improving the body’s ability to recover from missteps.
Seniors must recognize the importance to their health and wellbeing of both physical fitness in general and good balance specifically. Since the importance of balance only grows as a person gets older, it makes sense for seniors to make shoring up their balance a priority, even if it is something they have not given thought to for most of their lives.