While it is easy to say ‘exercise more’, it becomes progressively more difficult to do as we age. Seniors often face problems with balance, coordination, agility, range of motion, among other things, and these problems only tend to get worse if they are not worked upon. The risk of falling is also much more if your balance is compromised. The good news is that you can practice a few simple exercises in the comfort of your home, which will not only help with improving your balance, but also aid in strengthening coordination, agility, and flexibility.
1) Walking sideways
As simple as it sounds, you just need to take 10-15 steps to your right and then towards your left. Please note, do not shy away from holding onto a railing or wall, table, etc. for support as safety is of utmost importance. Doing this exercise will help in improving the coordination and balance of the lower body.
2) Balancing exercise- on one leg
We start off by standing with feet firmly on the ground, and then slowly raising one leg up to a height which you are comfortable with, and then repeat the process with your other leg. Do this for at least 5-10 times. Please make sure that you are near a solid object for support, in case you need it.
3) Standing up/Sitting Down
Sit down on your chair, stand up (unaided if possible) and then sit back down. Repeating this simple exercise at least 10 times will help in strengthening your hip muscles and your quadriceps(thigh) muscles.
4) Tucking in Stomach
Pulling in your abdomen, or tucking in your stomach, is a good way to protect your lower back. Pull your abdomen in and hold for about 5 seconds, and then release. Do this 10-15 times in one set, and once you are comfortable you can do multiple sets during the day.
5) Leg Swings
Hold onto a railing, table, any sturdy object for support, stand firmly on your right leg, and then swing your left leg forwards and backwards 10 times. Then move the same leg side to side 10 times. Repeat the process by standing on your left leg and swinging your right. The benefit of performing this exercise is two-fold. One, it helps builds strength in your standing leg, and two, it helps in increasing the mobility in your moving leg.
6) Tightrope walk
Lift your arms and raise them to your side, and then walk in a straight line slowly (25 to 30 steps). Keep in mind, when you raise your foot, hold it in the air in the raised position for around 2 seconds before planting it down. This exercise will help in improving your balance and core strength.
It is important to remember that whenever you feel like you need it, take a break. You are the best judge of how you are feeling, so if your body is telling you that you need to take a break for a couple of minutes or more, do it. Also try to keep yourself hydrated before performing any exercise, as this will lower the risk of you feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
Practicing these simple exercises on a regular basis has many benefits, which range far beyond just keeping your body physically healthy. Numerous studies have shown that physical exercise has a positive impact on one’s mental health, which in turn also reduces the risk of developing dementia. Exercises like these will also help in better blood circulation in your body, which will allow you to heal from injuries quicker.
Please note, if you feel like you require extra guidance and help in improving your balance, range of motion or other issues, reach out to a professional. A physiotherapist can help you with a more personal program, creating exercises especially for you, tailored to your needs and health.