By Glenn Baja

Many older adults suffer from balance problems, and falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death among seniors. Even healthy older adults experience less secure balance than in their younger years – but this doesn’t mean you can’t improve balance! Here are the 6 best balance exercises for older adults that will help you live an active life well into your senior years.

What Causes Balance Problems?

Balance problems can be caused by:

  • Inner ear problems, including vertigo
  • Numbness in the feet and legs (neuropathy) which can be due to diabetes or nerve damage from old injuries
  • Eye problems including cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy
  • Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Heart or other cardiovascular problems
  • Nervous system disease (MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s)
  • Taking multiple medications
  • Muscle imbalance and/or weakness (for example, people who sit too much tend to develop muscle weakness that affects balance).

6 Best Balance Exercises

You can do these exercises every day to improve your balance. Balance, flexibility, coordination and strength work together to keep you upright and mobile. You need to improve all four to see positive results in your balance.

  1. One-legged stance

This is a great starting point for people with fairly severe balance issues.

  • Start by holding on to a sturdy chair or table.
  • Lift your right foot as high as you can, while balancing on the left foot.
  • Let go of your support while keeping your eyes straight ahead.
  • Hold for as long as you can, then gently lower your elevated foot and switch feet.

Once you can hold each pose for a minute, add these variations. Always keep your hand close to your support in case you feel wobbly:

  • Pivot your body to the left and right while balancing on one leg
  • Make small circles with the elevated leg
  • At the same time you raise your right leg, raise your left arm; and vice-versa
  • Slightly bend your standing knee while your other leg is elevated
  • Looking around (instead of fixating your gaze ahead of you) without moving your head, while balancing one-legged
  • Looking around while turning your neck, while balancing one-legged
  1. Sit on a balance ball

sitting on a yoga ball

Image via Pro Body Pilates

Simply sitting on an exercise ball or balance ball (one of those giant balls you see at the gym) tones your core muscles and restores balance. Balance balls are cheap (about $15), come in various sizes, and can be used for a variety of exercises. They are wonderful replacements for chairs if you sit a lot because they engage your core muscles and promote balance and posture the entire time you’re sitting!

Best Selling Balance Ball
  • Place two chairs about 3’ apart with the seats facing each other (NOT the backs) and place your balance ball between them.
  • Stand in front of the ball with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • With one hand supporting yourself on a chair, gently sit on the balance ball, holding on to it with your non-supporting hand so it doesn’t roll away.
  • Remove your hand from the support.
  • Once you are comfortable sitting, lift your arms out to the sides, to shoulder height.
  • With your arms out to the sides, slowly pivot left to right as far as you can go. If you ever need to grab on to your support chairs, you have one on either side!
Bestseller No. 1
Bosu Balance Trainer, 65cm - Blue
  • PROVEN: BOSU Balance Trainer combines all the elements of fitness cardiovascular toning and flexibility into unique and highly effective combinations. Workouts are specifically designed by industry professionals to improve your overall health.
  • IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH: Challenging and fun, the BOSU Balance Trainer gives a whole new meaning to "moving with control" as you work out on an unstable, dynamic surface
  • HIGHEST QUALITY: This is "The Original" Balance Trainer. Proudly Made in the USA. If you have any issues with your product please contact us directly at help@bosu.com
  • BUILT TO LAST: The BOSU Balance Trainer has been tested to last 10x the leading generic balance trainer. Maximum User Weight: 300 lbs.
  • INCLUDED: BOSU Balance Trainer, 4-in-1 workout DVD, 2 workouts from the Xplode Series DVD, owner's manual and hand pump
SaleBestseller No. 2
Everymile Wobble Balance Board, Exercise Balance Stability Trainer Portable Balance Board with Handle for Workout Core Trainer Physical Therapy & Gym 15.7" Diameter No-Skid Surface - Red&Black
  • Anti-skid Performance: Abrasion-resistant ABS platform with 6 non-skid feet and non-slip textured surface for maximum stability and added strength, you'll feel stable while exercising even when you're sweaty
  • 360 DEGREE ROTATION &15 DEGREE TILTING ANGLE. It is great to perform side to side, front to back, stretch and circular drills. Improve your balance, coordination, and flexibility while targeting and strengthening core areas of your body. Perfect for balance training and core stability workouts
  • Portable Balance Board: With portable handle design, and it is lightweight, very easy to take with you to gym, to office or travel or at home
  • Compact & Durable: Made with durable plastic and TPR material. 3.5lbs, 15.7" Diameter * 3.94" Height, holds up to 300 lbs
  • This wobble balance board provides a stable workout rehabilitation and physical therapy for anyone trying to overcome an injury, be it adult athletes or dancers, kids playing sports, or seniors after surgery
Bestseller No. 3
Trideer Exercise Ball (45-85cm) Extra Thick Yoga Ball Chair, Anti-Burst Heavy Duty Stability Ball Supports 2200lbs, Birthing Ball with Quick Pump (Office & Home & Gym) (Turkis, 55cm)
  • EXTRA THICK AND ANTI-BURST: one of the highest density exercise balls in the market. 2000 micrometers in thickness and can resist up to 2200 lbs.
  • HIGH QUALITY MATERIAL AND ANTI-SLIP: Professional quality with non-toxic PVC material, free of BPA & heavy metals
  • EASY TO INFLATE AND PERFECT PACKAGE: Save time and energy with the quick inflation foot pump included in the convenient box. Also comes with 2 more air stoppers and instructions
  • VERSATILE USE: Not only great for pilates, yoga, back and abdominal training and pregnancy gymnastics or the hundreds of low impact exercises, but also can be used as office ball chair to improve your posture & relieve back pain. Available in 5 sizes (ranging from 45cm - 85cm) and multicolor for the perfect look and fit.
  • 30-DAY NO HASSLE RETURNS & LIFETIME CUSTOMER & 12 MONTHS WARRANTY (not including artificial issues)
  1. Flexibility exercises

Touching your toes, reaching for the sky, and doing side-bends will help restore flexibility and balance, and strengthen your core muscles, which are essential for balance and agility.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your side.
  • Slowly touch your toes; you can have a slight bend in your knees if you aren’t flexible enough to touch your toes. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return to standing with your arms at your sides.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Lift both arms above you, and slowly do a side bend, keeping your stomach muscles tight. Only go as far as you can comfortably go without losing your balance. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return to standing with your arms at your sides.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Lift both arms to the sky, stretching your arms and torso as high as you can. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return to standing with your arms at your sides.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  1. Heel lifts

heel lifts

Image via Popsugar

Standing on your tiptoes will help improve balance as well as build leg and core strength.

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Holding on to something for support, lift your heels as high as you can.
  • Hold for a count of 10 and slowly lower your heels to the ground.
  • Repeat five times.
  • Next, move your feet closer together, so they are no more than one inch apart.
  • Holding on to the support, lift your heels as high as you can.
  • Hold for a count of 10 and slowly lower your heels to the ground.

Advanced moves:

  • While on your tiptoes, remove your hand from the support (keeping it close).
  • Once you can do that, do the entire raising-holding-lowering movement without holding on to the support (keep your hand close to it)
  • Try one-legged heel lifts while holding on to your support, and keeping your other leg relaxed
  • You can also pivot your body left and right while on your tiptoes (holding on to your support).
  1. Water Aerobics (or Aquatic Exercises)

Anything you do in the pool, from walking, to jogging in place, to jumping up and down, one-legged balancing (especially tricky if there are other people in the pool making currents), or running, will help you build balance confidently. The bonus? Added water resistance tones your body while building balance!

  1. Stand on a stability disc

Only do standing stability disc exercises if you have mild balance problems or once you’ve worked up to better stability using the above exercises.

A stability disc isn’t shaped like a ball, it’s more like a jelly-filled donut that you stand on to develop balance, coordination, and strength. They are inexpensive (as little as $10), compact, and give you an amazing balance and core strength workout.

Best Selling Stability Disc

The following is a more advanced balance exercise that you should only attempt once you’ve become comfortable doing all of the exercises described above.

  • Holding on to something sturdy, place one foot on the disc, just to the side of the center.
  • Slowly, still holding on to your support, put your weight on the disc.
  • Try to keep your eyes ahead of you, on a fixed point.
  • Put your other foot on the disc without looking down (balancing is easier with eyes ahead).
  • Once both feet are on the disc, simply stand on it as you would stand on the floor. It will wobble some, and that’s the whole point: the constant movement immediately engages all of your muscles for a surprisingly effective balance and strength workout!
  • Once you feel stable while holding on, remove your hand from the support (but keep it close). When you’re comfortable with this, add these variations:
    • Make small arm circles with your non-supportive hand
    • Pivot your body left and right while balancing on the disc

Best Selling Stability Disc By King Athletic

Sale
King Athletic Stability Balance Disc :: Wobble Cushion Core Trainer :: for Home or Office Desk Chair and Kids Classroom Sensory Wiggle Seat :: Instructional eBook Included
  • One disc per order. Unlike cheaply made discs that are flimsy, hard to pump, and lose air quickly, the King Athletic stability balance disk is easy to fill and holds air longer than other discs, even with continual use and extreme pressure.
  • Please use caution when inflating not to accidentally puncture through the opposite side damaging the disc. Made from premium materials, the disc is crafted from a high quality, non-toxic and BPA-free rubber composite. Our 13 inch/33 cm diameter disk boost chair comfort with added support and a dual massage surface featuring small bumps and soft spikes.
  • Great for hyper children or for kids with ADHD and fidget issues as it helps to absorb their energy and therefore allows them to sit still for longer and stay concentrated better. Our disk works great as a wiggle or wobble seat and is an excellent alternative to a chair balance ball. Strengthen and tighten core and back muscles with stability exercises that target a number of muscle groups.
  • eBook Included - Our mission is to promote fitness and healthy living that's why we prepared 2 free e-books to help you out with your workout. Are you worried about injuries? Bored with your usual exercise routine? Want to get maximum benefits fast without tons of time-consuming research? Good news! You'll receive 2 e-books ($36 value) that give you a number of proven techniques to take your workouts and nutrition to the next level.
  • We believe in quality products and that's why you get a 200% money back guarantee. This is better than money back guarantee! If you are not completely satisfied with your product, we will SEND YOU A NEW ONE and give you a FULL REFUND. See product packaging for more details.

More advanced stability disc exercises include:

  • Leg lifts: one leg standing on the disc while you lift the other to the front then back to center, to the side and back to center, to the rear and back to center.
  • Step-ups: simply getting on and off the disc repeatedly is a quick way to improve balance, coordination and strength.

Bonus exercise: Use your opposite hand

This is not really an “exercise” but rather brain training that helps you build new neural connections in the brain and retrain your body to be more balanced.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Black Mountain Products Exercise Balance Stability Disc with Hand Pump, Black
  • Professional grade balance disc with pump
  • 13 inch diameter for stability and balance
  • Large massage spikes for maximum grip
  • Helps improve balance, coordination, and flexibility
  • Black Mountain Products offers Lifetime Warranty
SaleBestseller No. 2
King Athletic Stability Balance Disc :: Wobble Cushion Core Trainer :: for Home or Office Desk Chair and Kids Classroom Sensory Wiggle Seat :: Instructional eBook Included
  • One disc per order. Unlike cheaply made discs that are flimsy, hard to pump, and lose air quickly, the King Athletic stability balance disk is easy to fill and holds air longer than other discs, even with continual use and extreme pressure.
  • Please use caution when inflating not to accidentally puncture through the opposite side damaging the disc. Made from premium materials, the disc is crafted from a high quality, non-toxic and BPA-free rubber composite. Our 13 inch/33 cm diameter disk boost chair comfort with added support and a dual massage surface featuring small bumps and soft spikes.
  • Great for hyper children or for kids with ADHD and fidget issues as it helps to absorb their energy and therefore allows them to sit still for longer and stay concentrated better. Our disk works great as a wiggle or wobble seat and is an excellent alternative to a chair balance ball. Strengthen and tighten core and back muscles with stability exercises that target a number of muscle groups.
  • eBook Included - Our mission is to promote fitness and healthy living that's why we prepared 2 free e-books to help you out with your workout. Are you worried about injuries? Bored with your usual exercise routine? Want to get maximum benefits fast without tons of time-consuming research? Good news! You'll receive 2 e-books ($36 value) that give you a number of proven techniques to take your workouts and nutrition to the next level.
  • We believe in quality products and that's why you get a 200% money back guarantee. This is better than money back guarantee! If you are not completely satisfied with your product, we will SEND YOU A NEW ONE and give you a FULL REFUND. See product packaging for more details.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Gaiam Balance Disc Wobble Cushion Stability Core Trainer for Home or Office Desk Chair & Kids Classroom Sensory Wiggle Seat, Grey
  • TURN ANY CHAIR INTO AN ACTIVE SEAT: Place the disc on top of any chair or seat to add instability to strengthen your core while improving posture and sitting comfortably
  • VERSATILE CUSHION: Use balance disc with a variety of strength and balance exercises, in or out of a chair, to increase core strength and balance
  • AIR CUSHIONED SEAT ANYWHERE: Works outdoors for a quick seat or on hardwood and carpet flooring and also makes a great meditation seat or wherever you need a little extra cushion
  • ALTERNATIVE SEAT FOR ACTIVE KIDS: Great for classroom aged children at home or in the classroom as an outlet for hyper or ADHD kids allowing them to release excess energy while staying engaged and focused longer
  • DIMENSIONS: Measures 16 inch diameter

It simply involves using your non-dominant hand to do things you normally do with your dominant hand: brushing your teeth is weird at first but within a month you’ll be ambidextrous at it. The same goes for pouring yourself a glass of water, or eating, brushing/combing your hair, petting the dog, carrying groceries, vacuuming, or any daily task you tend to do one-handed.

Not only will you become more ambidextrous and create better balance, but you will also strengthen your non-dominant hand and arm for better musculoskeletal balance!

Start Slow!

Your brain is amazing, and you can retrain yourself to have better balance by using these balance exercises for older adults.

It’s important to start slowly, build your confidence, and master a particular exercise before moving on to the more advanced versions. Give your brain a chance to rewire itself for balance. And while you’re doing that, you’ll also be building strength, flexibility and coordination. Good luck!

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