Balance is something that declines with age and unfortunately can put older adults at greater risk of falls and injuries. Anything from weaker muscles and bones, to poor vision, can negatively impact your ability to feel steady on your feet. However, this is something you can improve on at home with the right kind of exercise in place.
This isn't referring to really demanding, high intensity, throwing yourself from one move to another move, kind of exercise. Instead, we mean some simple low-impact movement that can help to enhance your balance without putting too much pressure on your joints. If joint ache tends to hold you back from exercising, some of the best supplements for joints can help ease symptoms.
Research published in the journal for Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine (opens in new tab) had a group of elderly adults aged between 60 and 80 complete a six-week balance-enhancing exercise program. They practiced a set of home exercises for around sixteen minutes, four times a week, and afterward, both balance control and confidence had significantly improved among the group of adults.
The participants performed the following exercises on a standard solid surface: squats, heel/calf raising, and one-leg standing. They also completed the knee squats and one-leg stance on a double folded exercise mat (much like one of the best yoga mats) as this helped them to exercise their sensory systems at the same time.
The above research shows how basic a balance-based workout can be. If you want to develop your balance and strength but would feel better with someone leading you through the exercise, try this 25-minute low-impact workout shared by SeniorShape Fitness.
SeniorShape Fitness's Low-Impact Workout for Seniors
Firstly, this workout has been designed especially to be osteoporosis friendly, meaning there is no bending or twisting of the spine involved. Secondly, the routine incorporates similar exercises to the ones used in the study above such as knee bends and calf raises.
The joint-friendly workout starts with a bit of cardio before entering the strength-building section but it's completed at a manageable pace. Of course, if it does feel too much for you it's alright if you need to press stop and start a few times throughout the workout.
This kind of exercise is a very cost-effective way for elderly adults to improve their balance, avoid falls and find everyday tasks easier. Not to mention things like independence and confidence should develop by default. Participants involved in the study above said, "Their balance had improved when walking and that it was easier for them to get dressed, especially putting on socks."
It's not just balance that declines with age, muscle mass will too. Even if you don't plan on having big muscular arms and legs when you're older, it's essential you encourage muscle growth in order to maintain strength and avoid weakness. Light resistance training (with some of the best resistance bands will help with this) as well as eating plenty of protein, which can be made easier using one of the best protein powders for women.
Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition.
When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.
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