What you need to know about balance

Exercises for older adults

Many Fit For Good exercises are aimed at building strength and general fitness, but the most important exercises for older adults are those which improve balance. Falls and fractures are one of the most common and serious health issues for people over 65, as this age group has the highest risk of falling. Around half of people aged 80 and over fall at least once a year.

Fragility fractures cost the UK around £4.4 billion a year, including £1.1 billion for social care. Hip fractures account for around £2.2 billion of this amount. Yet these staggering sums don’t include the human cost of distress, pain, suffering, loss of confidence and loss of independence. Around 20% of hip fracture patients entered into long-term care in the first year after their fracture.

Isn’t it worth spending a few minutes every day working on maintaining and improving your balance to avoid becoming one of these sad statistics?

Simple balance exercises for older adults

Some very simple balance exercises can be done while you are doing something else. Try standing on one foot while you are brushing your teeth – make sure you hold onto the basin if you are worried about falling. Some other balance enhancing exercises you can do at home, some of them can even be done while you are watching television – but make sure you hold onto something stable if you are worried about falling:

  • Stand up from a seated position without using your hands
  • Walk in a line, heel to toe, for a short distance
  • Stand behind a stable chair and hold onto it if you need to. Bend your knee and lift up your right foot behind you. Balance on your left foot for as long as you can, then switch feet. Do this 10-15 times a day
  • Stand behind a stable chair or sofa and hold onto the back of it if you need to. Slowly lift your right leg straight back, not bending your knees or pointing your toes. Hold for one second then slowly bring the leg back down. Repeat 10-15 times per leg
  • Stand beside a stable chair or sofa and hold onto it if you need to. Slowly rise up on your toes as high as you can go then back down and back onto your heels. Do this 10-15 times, once or twice a day