Seniors may have age and health-related concerns about exercise, but they shouldn’t let these fears stop them from staying active. There are plenty of exercises out there to prevent falls and help seniors maintain strength, balance and mobility.
#1 Balancing Wand
The balancing wand exercise feels more like a game than a workout. All you need is a sturdy chair and a wand-like object that isn’t too heavy. You can use a:
- Broom (without the head)
- Wooden spoon
Sit up straight and balance one end of the wand vertically in the palm of your hand. As it starts to fall, move your hand to try to stop it from toppling to the floor. Keep your eyes focused on the end of the wand and your feet planted on the ground.
Make it fun by timing the exercise and trying to beat your record each time. If you’re right-handed, try switching to your left hand, and vice versa.
#2 Heel-to-Toe Walk
The heel-to-toe walk forces you to balance in an unsteady stance. Start by raising both arms so your body forms a T shape. Slowly bring one foot in front of the other. Touch the heel of that foot to the toe of your stable foot. Continue alternating steps.
You can make this exercise easier and safer by walking close to a wall so you can catch yourself if you start to fall. Walking down a wide hallway will give you support on both sides.
#3 Wall Push-Ups
This modified push-up exercise builds your arm and core strength. Simply place both palms flat against a bare wall, keeping your arms shoulder width apart. Stand at least an arm’s length away from the wall. Slowly lower yourself toward the wall, pause one second and push back up. Repeat 10 or more times.
#4 Reach Down and Reach High
This practical, dance-like exercise simulates scooping something off the ground and placing it on a high shelf without falling. Start by placing one foot in front of you and one foot behind you. Gently bend down with both knees to reach toward the “item” on the ground. From this bent position, transfer your weight and lift the imaginary object up high, moving your arm upward in an arc. Repeat several times.
#5 Flamingo Stand
The flamingo stand engages your core and improves your balance. Start by picking up one leg. Bend the leg at the knee and draw your calf backward until your knee is pointed down and your shin is parallel to the floor. Hold the pose for as long as you can, then return to the resting position. Repeat with your other leg.
Add a pendulum arm swing to make the exercise more difficult. As you balance, move the arm opposite to your lifted leg. Face your palm toward your body and swing your arm slowly up in front of you to shoulder height. Then lower it back behind you. Try repeating the arm motion several times while maintaining your balance.
#6 One-Foot Twister
This advanced exercise requires you to balance on one foot while changing the position of your other leg. You will first need to purchase some shelf liner and cut five plate-sized circles out of it. This grippy surface reduces your chance of slipping and falling during the exercise.
Lay out your five circles in a plus-sign pattern on an even floor. Circle one will be in the middle – this is where you’ll stand. Then place each of the other circles:
- In front of you
- To your left
- To your right
- Directly behind you
Now, you’re going to playing one-foot Twister! Slowly lift one of your legs and tap it to the circle in front, to the right, to the left and in back. Return to a standing position. Repeat the exercise with your other leg.
You can simplify this exercise by moving the circles closer to you and using a cane, chair or counter for support. You can also make it more difficult by standing freely, but only do this if you feel confident you won’t fall.
Stay Active at Twin Lakes Community in Burlington, NC
Getting older does not mean letting go of physical health and independence. At Twin Lakes Community, we believe in aging successfully. That means engaging at the highest level possible and participating in meaningful experiences every day.
Through our comprehensive wellness program, THRIVE, our residents do just that. We offer over 140 classes a month for strength, flexibility, balance and endurance. Our cross-functional emphasis extends beyond the gym into dining, social activities, community volunteering and much more.
Twin Lakes Community is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) where more than 500 people from all over the country enjoy Life at the Lakes in independent living. Additionally, we offer assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care. For more information and/or to schedule a tour, contact us at 336-538-1571.