As you get older, you may notice that you have a harder time moving around than you once did. You might lose your balance more easily, and you may fall down more often or have a harder time getting back up. This can be an especially serious problem if you have Parkinson’s disease or a similar condition. Luckily, there are some exercises you can do to help you maintain strength and balance to keep you mobile for longer. Read on to discover the best balance exercises to keep you on your feet.
One of the best simple balance exercises you can do is a weight shift exercise. Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart. You may want to have your arms down by your sides or resting gently on a surface such as a bar or chair to help you keep your balance.
Move your weight onto your right foot until you can lift your left foot off the ground. Hold with your left leg off the ground for up to 30 seconds, and then place it back on the floor. Shift your weight slowly onto your left leg and repeat the exercise on the other side, doing three total repetitions on each side.
For this exercise, you’ll need a balance board, a flat board with a rounded bottom that looks somewhat like a skateboard with no wheels. This exercise is slightly more advanced, so you may want to wait to tackle this if you have balance challenges. Stand with your feet on the outer edges of the board, using a chair for light support if needed.
Shift your weight forward until the front of the board touches the ground and hold it there for a few seconds. Then shift your weight backwards until the back of the board touches the ground. Repeat this exercise, being sure to use slow, controlled, even movements for one minute.
If you use a walker, there are still some exercises you can do to improve your balance. One of these, marching, is a great way to improve your core balance to making walking easier both with and without your walker. You’re going to begin by standing at your walker with both hands on the grips.
Shift your weight to your right leg and lift your left knee as high as you can. Lower it slowly, and then lift your right knee as high as you can, repeating for a total of twenty repetitions. If you’re doing this exercise to help mitigate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, consider working with a Parkinson’s-specific trainer who can provide you with customized feedback.
Heel to Toe Walk
The heel to toe walk is a great way to improve your balance for day-to-day activities, as well as strengthen your legs. Stand with your back against a wall in a large, open space, and raise your arms to either side. Place your right front in front of your left foot with your right heel touching your left toes.
Step forward onto your right foot, and then bring your left foot forward, placing it directly in front of your right foot. Your left heel should touch your right toes as though you were walking on a tightrope. Walk twenty steps this way, and repeat as often as desired.
Single Foot Balance
If you’ve had some time to practice with your balance board, you may be ready to proceed on to some more advanced moves. A single foot balance can be a great way to improve your overall core strength and balance. Start by standing with your right foot in the center of the board and your left toe on the ground in front of you.
Balancing in the center of the board, lift your left foot off the ground, raising your left knee as high as you can. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, using your arms to steady you as needed. Lower your leg back down and repeat the exercise on the opposite side, doing each side two or three times.
Heel-toe raises are another great option for exercises with a walker while you’re still building up your strength. They can help to build up strength in your legs and put your feet through the rolling motions of normal walking. Start standing on both feet with both hands on your walker.
Slowly, pushing as little on your walker as possible, raise up onto the balls of your toes. Hold there for three seconds before lowering back down, shifting your weight onto your heels, and lifting your toes off the ground. Hold there for three seconds, and repeat this cycle ten to twenty times.
Rock the Boat
Rock the boat is a simple balance exercise that will also serve to strengthen your legs. Begin standing in an open area with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms extended out to either side of you. Shift your weight to your right foot and lift your left foot off the floor with your knee bent.
Moving slowly to maintain your balance, bend your knee and swing your heel up towards your rear. Hold there for thirty seconds, then release, put your left foot on the floor, and switch legs. Do each side three times in total.
Discover the Best Balance Exercises
Balance exercises can be a fantastic way to maintain your independence and mobility and reduce the risk of falls. This is especially important if you have Parkinson’s disease or another condition that impacts your movement. Working with a Parkinson’s-specific trainer can also help you discover exercises that are tailored to your needs.
If you’d like to discover the best balance exercises to help you, check out the rest of our site at Training for All Ages. Master trainer Jonathan Rose has more than thirty years of knowledge and experience helping people to get into their best shape. Contact us today and discover a new mindset and new results.