Balance Exercises for Seniors
This article was updated on: 09/15/2018
Falls are a serious issue for older people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-fourth of all aging adults fall each year, and falling once increases your chance of falling again by 200%. How serious are falls?
- Over 2.8 million seniors are treated in the emergency room each year for falls.
- Over 800,000 patients are hospitalized for injuries from a fall, usually a hip fracture or head injury.
- Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by a fall.
According to the CDC, balance problems, lower body weakness, vision problems, and difficulty walking are all risk factor for falls among aging adults. Here are some steps you can take to improve your balance and reduce your risk of serious injury from a fall.
Can balance exercises for seniors prevent falls?
No exercise program can fully prevent falls, but improving your balance and lower body strength can lower your risk. Exercise for seniors has many benefits that may not only reduce your risk for falls, but even increase your ability to manage tasks associated with daily living. The National Institute on Aging suggests that balance exercises for seniors can also make it easier to:
- Carry groceries in from the car or take trash out to the curb
- Walk on a grassy lawn or cobblestone path without losing your balance
- Stand on tiptoe to reach something on a higher shelf
- Turn around quickly while you’re on a walk if you hear a bicycle or skateboard on the path behind you
Of course, before you make any changes in your daily routine, especially if it involves a new exercise program, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can tell you which activities are safe for you to do and help you understand your body’s signals as you begin an exercise program.
Are there balance exercises I can do at home?
Fortunately, there are exercises to improve your balance at home or anywhere else you feel comfortable exercising. Here are some great ways to begin, according to the National Institute on Aging:
- Standing on one foot. Using the back of a sturdy chair for support, stand on one foot for 10 seconds, then switch to the other foot. Work up to repeating with each foot 10 to 15 times.
- Back and side leg raises. Still using the chair back for support, stand on your left foot, raising your right leg out and away from your body to the right side. Hold for 10 seconds and stand with both feet together. Then repeat with the left leg to the left side. Repeat up to 10 times. You can vary this by raising each leg back and behind you to strengthen your lower back.
- Heel-to-toe walk. With your arms out at your sides, focus on a spot in front of you and slowly walk forward, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of (even touching) the toe of your other foot. Try to work up to 20 steps in heel-to-toe walking. (You might not want to try this one if you need a cane or walker for support.)
Does Medicare cover exercise for seniors?
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, your plan may include certain additional benefits to promote better health. Medicare Advantage offers an alternative way to receive your Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) benefits (except hospice care which Part A still covers). Many Medicare Advantage plans have coverage for wellness programs, which may include reduced gym membership fees or even classes with balance exercises to help reduce the risk of injury and fall.
Are you interested in finding out more about Medicare Advantage plan coverage for exercise programs? I would love to help you understand your options. To request an email with information about Medicare, or schedule a phone call at your convenience, click one of the links below. You can also click the “Compare plans” button to see a list of plans in your area you may be eligible for.