Exercises for Seniors to Help Prevent Falls – and Stay Independent

Exercises for Seniors

Did you know that every second of every day in the U.S. an older adult aged 65+ falls?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is why falling is also the leading cause of injury for this age group. But there is good news.

They are preventable.

Why your risk of falling increases as you grow older

The risk of falling can increase as the following factors often come into play:

  • Balance or walking problems: these can be caused by vision changes, vestibular problems such as dizziness and vertigo, and altered sensation in the feet.
  • The use of multiple medications: the risk of falls increases when an individual takes five or more medicines.
  • Home hazards: the risk can increase with dim lighting or tripping hazards in the home.
  • Positional low blood pressure: this can occur when blood pressure drops upon standing, increasing the chance of falling.
  • Feet or footwear issues

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Exercises for seniors to help prevent falls

Beginning a routine that focuses on balance and strength training can reduce your risk of falling. If you feel unsteady, have weak balance or are afraid you will fall, speak to your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercises.

The following is a round-up of exercises for seniors that can improve strength and balance:

Sit-to-stand exercise

This exercise helps build leg strength as well as improves balance.

  1. Begin by sitting forward on a chair that won’t slide or roll. Place your feet flat on the ground. Have a countertop or other support surface in front of you that can be used if you start to feel unsteady.
  2. Lean your chest forward over your toes, shifting your body weight forward and slowly rise to a standing position.
  3. Slowly sit back down to the starting position. Repeat 10 times, twice a day. Hold hand weights to add resistance for an advanced version.
  4. The goal is not to use your hands but if necessary, place your hands on the chair arms or seat and push to help you stand.

Balance exercise

Have someone with you if you feel unsteady and stand in front of a kitchen counter you can use if you start to lose your balance. Perform five repetitions for each exercise twice a day.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold steady for 10 seconds. Work your way up to 30 seconds. If you sway or need to steady yourself with the counter, keep working on this exercise until you can hold the position firmly for 30 seconds.
  2. Next, stand with your feet together and hold steady for 10 seconds, working your way up to 30 seconds. When you can hold steady for 30 seconds, move on to the next exercise.
  3. Stand on your right foot and hold steady for 10 seconds, working up to 30 seconds. Then switch to your left foot and do the same.
  4. When you’re able to perform the above exercises with little support, next try to complete each one with your eyes closed. Hold each for 10 seconds and work up to 30 seconds.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Toe stands

  1. Hold on to the back of a chair for support, with your back straight and knees slightly bent.
  2. Push up on to your tiptoes as high as possible.
  3. Slowly lower your heels to the floor.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Knee curls

  1. Hold on to the back of a chair for balance while standing with your feet shoulder width apart and slightly bended knees.
  2. Lift one leg straight behind you, bend your knee and bring your heel toward you.
  3. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times for each leg.

Leg extensions

  1. Sit in a straight-back chair with both feet on the floor.
  2. Straighten one leg out in front of you as far as possible.
  3. Slowly lower your leg back down.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each leg.

Leg stretches

  1. Sit in a straight-back chair.
  2. Put one foot on a low stool in front of you.
  3. Straighten your leg on the stool and reach your hand toward this foot.
  4. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Then sit back up.
  5. Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Source: MedlinePlus

Step ups

The goal is to build the habit of lifting each foot while maintaining balance.

  1. Find a step around 7 inches in height such as on a stairway, porch or sidewalk curb.
  2. Use a railing or wall for support if you feel unsteady.
  3. Step up and down, making sure your entire foot lands on the step.
  4. Repeat for 10 to 30 seconds, gradually increasing speed.

Wall push-ups

This exercise helps strengthen your core without causing dizziness.

  1. Stand 1 foot away from a wall and place hands on the wall just beyond shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly lower your chest toward the wall while keeping your back straight.
  3. Perform 5 to 10 repetitions.
  4. Work up to stepping further back from the wall to make the exercise more challenging.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Discover life at a Northbridge community

If you’re considering senior living for yourself or a family member, we hope you’ll visit one of our communities. You’ll find a maintenance-free, activity-filled and engaging lifestyle to help support your wellness goals.

You’ll discover many benefits in a Northbridge Senior Living community, including our Signature Program S.T.A.R. Club (Sharp Thinking, Active Residents) – which offers our residents several activities to participate in with others, including:

  • Daily exercise group
  • Walking club
  • Tai Chi & Yoga
  • Nutritional classes
  • Library and book club
  • Museum outings
  • Artists in residence program
  • Multi-generational music
  • Genealogy Generations

If you are considering senior living as the right choice to support your desired lifestyle, we invite you to download our Family Decision Toolkit. Or, contact us to schedule a personalized tour.

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