Every Day Ways For Seniors To Improve Balance

Preserving and working to improve your balance is an important goal for bone health because falls, especially among seniors, are a leading cause of fractures.  A fracture suffered as a senior may have a significant impact on your mobility, ability to live independently, and overall quality of life.

There is a lot you can do to improve your balance that doesn’t require special fitness classes or joining a gym!  Though there are multiple factors involved with decreased balance as we age  (including vision loss, worsening posture, slower response time, and sometimes medical interactions that cause dizziness or headaches) a lot of this decline is simply due to inactivity. Simply incorporating balance and strength activities into your everyday routine may be enough to lower your risk of falling, and potentially breaking a bone.

A new program for seniors, called Lifestyle-integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) encourages people to incorporate strength training and balance activity into their daily routines.  This lifestyle approach helps people change their everyday habits and form new routines that challenge muscles and balance, keeping them “on their feet”.

One of the more interesting aspects of the LiFE  program is that it asks people to “unsimplyfy” their surroundings, as a means of turning everyday tasks into opportunities to improve strength and balance.  For example: place commonly used products like detergent on a lower shelf so your knees have to bend to pick it up; make more trips to carry groceries up the stairs; and keep your remote on top of the TV forcing you to get up and move around. Many more tips like these as well as a detailed basis of the LiFE program are available as a PDF download.

In a recent study of the LiFE program, a group of participants, age 70 and above, experienced fewer falls and maintained better overall function, compared to two other approaches: structured exercise/ strengthening, and a gentle exercise program. In addition to fewer falls and improved balance, participants were also more likely to stick with the LiFE program than the alternative programs, likely because their healthier habits were intertwined with routine.

Improved balance is a cornerstone of exercising for bone health, along with flexibility, muscle strength, bone strength, and endurance.  There is also a hidden benefit to exercise where it relates to bone health. Studies have shown that exercise can decrease the risk of falls by 25%.

To test your balance and gauge your risk of falling, practice standing on one foot at a time for 30 seconds - raise one leg, bend the knee and hold it still. Straighten the raised leg and swing it out to the side or in circles.

Take a look at our extensive list ofexercises for bone health if you're feeling a little more adventurous!

Leave a Reply