INFOGRAPHIC: Balance Exercises for Seniors

By Alyssa Ball

Exercise is a great way for seniors to stay healthy and maintain balance and coordination as they age. Discover different balance exercises designed to help seniors with their stability. Try implementing some of these balance exercises in your daily routine!

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Exercises for Seniors to Help with Balance

A certain level of coordination is needed to move and exercise efficiently. Integrating balance and agility exercises into workout routines for seniors can help increase coordination. 

As seniors age, maintaining independence and well-being is important. Regular exercise can help slow down the decline in balance and coordination that reduces a senior's independence. 

Good motor coordination is necessary for seniors to perform both simple and complex tasks such as walking, cleaning, and climbing stairs. 

Exercises for Balance

Involve internal and external processing that trains coordination and timing. Common balance exercises include: 

Standing Balance with Ball Bosses. 

Best for: eye and hand coordination

Beginners should start out by keeping both feet on the floor. More advanced individuals can balance on one leg with the opposite leg lifted at 90 degrees at the hip and knee. 

Use a tennis ball, Pilates ball, or soft medicine ball. Toss the ball into each hand, making sure the eyes follow the ball. If balancing on one leg, complete a set with each leg. 

Contralateral and Ipsilateral Marching

Best for: hand and foot coordination

Contralateral marching — raise the right arm overhead and simultaneously life the lief at 90 degrees at the hip. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and release to the starting position. Now lift the left arm overhead and simultaneously lift the right leg to 90 degrees. Continue alternating sides. 

Ipsilateral marching — raise the right arm overhead and simultaneously raise the right leg at 90 degrees at the hip. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and lower to the starting position. Next, raise the left arm overhead and simultaneously lift the leg at 90 degrees at the hip. 

Walk, Toss, and Catch

Best for: eye and hand coordination, and hand and feet coordination

First, find a partner. While walking forward, bounce a tennis ball back and forth between each other. This exercise will encourage good hand-eye coordination. 

Squats with Focal Point Challenges

Best for: eye and hand coordination

Get in an upright standing position with feet hip distance apart. Lift arms to shoulder height and extend the wrist with fingers facing the ceiling. There are 2 ways to execute this squat.

  1. First find a focal point on the wall or the floor in front of you. Perform a squat as the right arm moves to the side of the body (rotating the torso) while focusing on the focal point. Return the torso and the arm to the center standing position. Next, perform the same movement on the left side. Alternate moving the right and left arms as you squat. 
  2. Perform the same squat listed above, but this time, focus on moving fingers. the head will also rotate in the same direction as the arm. 

Reaction Side Squats

Best for: eye and foot coordination, and reaction to a cue

Start by finding a partner. Have the partner point to the left or the right. In a timely manner, perform a side squat in the direction in which the partner is pointing. Beginners can modify this to a side step. 

Reaction Step-Up

Best for: reaction to a cue

This exercise requires a partner and a step-up bench. The partner will indicate "left" or "right." Perform a step-up with the leg indicated. 

Beginners can step-up on the bench with both feet. Advanced individuals can drive the opposing leg to a 90-degree angle to improve balance. 

*All exercises outlined above should be performed safely with a healthcare professional or a licensed trainer present. Before starting any exercise regiment, first seek approval by a physician. 

Tags: Senior Fitness, Exercise