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Posted in Senior Wellness | June 2014

Stay balanced

exercises for seniors
As we age, it’s not uncommon to experience issues with balance and dizziness for a variety of health-related reasons.

Before trying to self-diagnose, make sure to visit your doctor if you are experiencing any dizziness or problems keeping your balance, particularly if the symptoms come on suddenly. Not only is it important to make sure there’s nothing seriously wrong, it’s also important to try to determine and treat the cause in order to prevent trips and falls.

If it turns out that your balance problems are simply a normal sign of getting a little older, there are some easy exercises that you can do to improve your flexibility, help strengthen your muscles and stay steadier on your feet.

According to Elder Gym, it can be possible to keep and even regain your balance since often the decline is simply a result of inactivity. Elder Gym has a series of 12 free, simple, online exercise videos designed just for seniors to help strengthen muscles and promote better balance. The videos progress in difficulty from beginning to end, and should always be done at your own pace.

You could also consider trying tai chi, an ancient martial art that has sometimes been referred to as “moving meditation” because it requires you to move your body slowly, gently and with awareness while breathing deeply.1 According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, some people practice tai chi specifically to improve balance and decrease the risk of falls. Check with your local community center, fitness center or martial arts center to see if there are any tai chi classes that would be appropriate for your age and fitness level.

For simple balance exercises you can do virtually anywhere, anytime, visit NIH Senior Health. You’ll find descriptions and photos of five exercises including standing on one foot, walking heel to toe, balance walk, back leg raises, and side leg raises that are all aimed at improving your balance and your lower body strength.

Make sure not to try any of these exercises when you’re alone, particularly if you’re unsure if you can safely complete them, and start slowly until you become used to these new ways of challenging your muscles. As always, check with your physician before starting any new exercise routine to make sure it’s safe for you to try.

For more exercises designed specifically for seniors, visit Medline Plus, and for tips and suggestions for maintaining mobility and preventing falls visit The Government of British Columbia.

SOURCES

1 http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm

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