According to data from the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury among older adults, and they account for nearly 1 million hospital visits each year. But there are several simple fall prevention exercises seniors can do on a regular basis to reduce their risk of falls and stay as strong and healthy as possible.
When performing any of the exercises below, you should always ensure someone else is home with you and available to help in case you need assistance. Additionally, it is important to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have existing health conditions or mobility issues.
Here are some simple exercises that can help prevent falls among seniors:
- Stand up and sit down
Begin in a sitting position. Make sure you’re sitting on a sturdy piece of furniture, like a dining room chair, and there is another piece of sturdy furniture close by (so you can grab onto it if you lose your balance). Scoot forward on your chair (so it will be easy enough to stand up), and put your feet on the floor in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Now stand up slowly and carefully, without using your arms to help you. As you stand, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees straight but not locked. Then sit back down, and repeat the movement ten or more times. This exercise helps build strength in your lower body and improves your balance.
- Stand up and turn around
This exercise is similar to the first one but involves turning around as you stand up. Again, ensure you’re doing this near something sturdy that you can use for support if needed. Start by sitting in your chair and scooting forward, so there is plenty of room to stand up comfortably. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, and stand up as you did in the first fall prevention exercise. After you stand up this time, walk around in a small circle and then sit back down. Then repeat this exercise, circling in the other direction.
- Simple Balance Exercises
Fall prevention is about maintaining your balance while standing upright, so these exercises help you work on that.
- Balance with your feet shoulder-width apart – Stand up straight and tall (in front of a table or counter, just in case you need it), and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds (but aim for 30-60), and keep your balance as evenly distributed between both legs as possible.
- Balance with your feet closer together – Now, try the same exercise, but this time stand with your feet closer together (so they are almost touching). Repeat the same 10-second count as before, but aim for 30-60 seconds.
- Balance on one foot – One final balance-strengthening exercise to try is standing on one foot. Stand up and lift one foot behind you. Try balancing for 10 seconds or for as long as you can maintain your balance. As you become more comfortable with this exercise, try holding it for more extended stretches.
- Tandem Balance
Tandem exercises are slightly more advanced than the simple balance exercises above, but they can be a great way to build even more strength and balance. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, then move one foot directly in front of the other, touching toe-to-heel. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then switch feet, so the other foot is in front. Once you have the hang of that, try standing in the tandem position (heel to toe) and slowly twisting your body from left to right. You can also try slowly looking up and down from the ceiling to the floor while in the tandem position. As you become more comfortable with this exercise, work up to longer durations as your balance and strength improve.
- Tightrope Walking
For added difficulty, you can try “tightrope” walking. To do this, start things off with the simple tandem balance exercise above, and then continue moving one foot in front of the other as if you are walking on a tightrope.
- High Marching
High marching is another excellent exercise for fall prevention. Start in a standing position, with your feet shoulder-width apart, then march in place, bringing your knees up high with each step. Try to march for at least 30 seconds, and increase your time as you get more comfortable with this exercise.You can also add some additional difficulty by lifting the opposite arm as you lift your knee, creating a full-body movement.
- Leg Braiding
Another useful exercise for fall prevention is leg braiding. To do this, stand up tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and cross one foot in front of the other, crossing it over as if you’re tying a shoelace. You can try holding the position for a few seconds or try walking sideways, continuing to cross your feet in this manner. As you get more comfortable with leg braiding, try alternating the crossing foot each time, creating a “braided” pattern as you walk. This can be a great way to work on balance and coordination while also building strength in your legs and core.
Lighthouse Senior Living Can Help You Stay Active
Seniors must stay active to maintain their balance and prevent falls. Whether you want to improve your balance and coordination, build strength in your legs and core, or simply practice maintaining your posture and upright positioning, our caring team at Lighthouse Senior Living can help you find the right exercises.
Reach out to us today to schedule a tour and learn more about our assisted living community and how we can help you stay active and healthy.