Best Balance Exercises for Seniors

The goal of balance exercises is to improve stability and coordination throughout your body. Balance helps you stay upright as you do activities like walking, biking, climbing stairs, or dancing. It’s important to do exercises that improve your balance, even as you get older.

Having good balance helps prevent injuries. Older individuals are especially at risk for accidents involving slips and falls, so it’s necessary to keep your balance well trained as you get older. 

Research has shown the significant role that balance exercises play in an older person’s quality of life. For instance, a study from 2016 found that older adults who began a regular balance exercise program improved their ability to move unassisted.

The following exercises are meant to help you balance better. Take your time as you start them, and be sure you have something nearby to grab onto in case you lose your balance while doing the exercise. Remember to stop if you feel pain. If the pain lasts for days or weeks, talk to your doctor.

Exercises to Help Seniors Balance Better

All of these exercises are intended to support the natural alignment of your body. Since your muscles and bones wear down naturally as you grow older, performing these exercises regularly can help you maintain the same lifestyle that you’re used to. You can do these exercises at your own home using objects you have around you and your own body weight.

Single Leg Balance

This is a simple exercise for improving balance. You should do this while holding onto a chair if you’re just starting out.

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Step 2: Extend your arms out to the sides and slowly lift your right knee up off the floor. 

Step 3: Straighten your leg out in front of you, hold that position for 30 seconds, and relax. 

Repeat this exercise for both legs at least three times. 

Tree Pose

Follow up your single-leg balance with the tree pose, an excellent and easy exercise for balance. This exercise is also a popular yoga move. Keep a chair handy while you do it.

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Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding one hand to your chest and the other on a chair. You can also rest both hands to your chest if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Step 2: Now raise your right leg straight up, turning your foot inward as you do. Gently rest the sole of your right foot against the side of your left thigh. 

Step 3: Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, or longer if you can. 

Do the same on the other leg and repeat this exercise three times. 

Tightrope Walk

This exercise can be performed using a line of tape, the lines between flooring tiles, or any straight line you can find. 

Step 1: Pick a destination to walk toward.  

Step 2: Like walking a tightrope, extend your arms out to the sides and start walking slowly, being careful to keep your feet on the line at all times. 

Step 3: Walk from heel to toe, counting at least five seconds before each step. 

Try this exercise once a day to keep your coordination sharp.

Flamingo Stand

This exercise builds your hip muscles and stabilizes your core. Do this while standing near a wall you can steady yourself with. 

Step 1: Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and touch your hands to a wall. 

Step 2: Now raise your right leg up to your hip as though marching. Lower it and do the same for the left. 

Step 3: Increase the difficulty by going a little faster or raising your legs higher. 

Repeat for both sides about 10 to 20 times. 

Lunges

When you lose your balance while walking, you usually take a step forward or back to regain it. Lunges help you keep this ability strong.

Step 1: Begin standing straight with your hands on your hips. 

Step 2: Now step your right foot forward, bending at the knee. Lower yourself until your right thigh is parallel with the floor below. 

Step 3: Breathe, hold for 30 seconds, and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for the left leg.  

Do this for each leg about five to 10 times. 

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Safety Considerations

Although balance exercises are certainly important for older adults, they must be done carefully. Be sure you have something nearby to stabilize you, like a chair, wall, or even another person. 

Take plenty of breaks and don’t try to do too much at once. If you have any concerns about starting a new balance program or you experience any pain doing these exercises, talk with your doctor before continuing. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 14, 2020

Sources

SOURCES

Aging Care: “4 Balance Exercises for Seniors That Help Prevent Falls.”

Aging in Place: “Top 10 Elderly Balance Exercises To Improve Balance And Coordination.”

American Heart Association: “Balance Exercise.”

Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine: “Improved Balance Confidence and Stability for Elderly After 6 Weeks of a Multimodal Self-Administered Balance-Enhancing Exercise Program.”

Mayo Clinic: “Balance exercises.”

U.S. News & World Report: “The 6 Best Exercises for Preventing Falls in Older Adults.”

Washington Post: “Four yoga moves for older adults that boost balance, ease pain and enhance health.”

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