Keeping your balance

With autumn upon us light is fading and the leaves are coming down. A good sense of balance and recovery abilities can help make sure you don’t hit the ground like the leaves. This season is called fall for a reason.

Balance is a crucial ability, that tends to decline with age. Every year, thousands of seniors are admitted to the hospital for broken hips, most often due to falling. Frequently a hip fracture will lead to disability and a loss of independence. To avoid becoming part of these statistics, add some balance exercises into your physical activities.

Safety – Before You Start

Always hold onto a chair or table when with one hand when trying a new balance exercise. As you improve, you can just rest your fingertips on the table or chair. Also, if you feel at all uncomfortable, have someone next to you when doing balance exercises for the first time – they can steady you or catch you if you fall.

Side Leg Raise

  1. Stand behind a table or chair, with feet at shoulder width.
  2. Hold onto the table or chair for balance.
  3. Firm your stomach and lift your right leg to the side about 12 inches (or as far as is comfortable) while keeping your back and both legs straight. Hold for several seconds.
  4. Repeat with your left leg and continue until you’ve done 10 with each leg.

Hip Flexion

  1. Stand behind a chair or table and hold on for balance.
  2. Bend one knee slowly toward your chest.
  3. Hold for 1 second and then lower slowly.
  4. Repeat with the other leg and continue until you have done 12 lifts with each leg.

Heel-To-Toe

  • Walk while placing the heel of one foot just in front of the toe of the other. Hold onto to a table or counter while trying this.

One Foot

  • While holding onto a chair or table, stand on one foot, then switch feet.
  • Try to hold this one leg position for longer periods until you are comfortable holding for 30 seconds

Have a chair beside you and rest as often as necessary. Don’t do these exercises if you have been having any dizzy spells recently. If you are unsure, have a check with your doctor before you start.

As your balance improves consider taking part in more challenging activities such as Tai Chi. These classes are often found being taught through community centres and offer a wonderful way to improve not just balance but strength and flexibility as well.

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