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Five exercises to improve balance and mobility

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many older adults have been staying at home and communicating with family members via electronic means.

That’s certainly a good way to stay safe. But changes in activity levels may mean those same older adults are concerned about losing independence through a fall, which not only can result in serious injury, but also lessen mobility and rob seniors of the things they most enjoy.

While there are numerous steps one can take, including having a healthy diet, being especially careful and increasing activity levels, one of the most important actions is to adopt an exercise routine that enhances balance and mobility.

Although it can be tempting to jump right into a new exercise program, please keep a few things in mind:

  • Make a plan. Do you have a set goal you would like to achieve? Do you want to focus more on balance exercises? Do you want to strengthen your core so you are more stable? In any of these cases, it’s important to find exercises that can help you to meet your specific goals. Do some research, make a list and meet with a personal trainer to gauge what you should try.
  • Talk to your doctor. Your physician knows the ins and outs of your health, so talking to him or her to see how to improve can be a big help. Doctors may even have recommended exercises, a meal plan to try or access to resources to help you be your healthiest self!
  • Listen to your body! When you start your routine, be in tune with your body. Don’t push yourself too hard at first and take a break when you need it. The biggest obstacle is just to start; how long it takes is not what matters.
  • Drink plenty of water. It’s important to hydrate at any time, but especially when you exercise. Take a break for water when needed and don’t forget to rehydrate afterward.
  • Take it slow and modify as needed. If you need to use a chair to balance against or do your exercises sitting down until you’re stronger, there’s nothing wrong with that! Simply get moving and begin to make a change, Adapt as needed over time and enjoy the benefits.

After you have a plan, here are some options you might try:

  1. Tai chi or yoga. These mind and body exercises can not only improve your posture and clear your mind, but also enhance balance and even out body strength to enhance stability. Tai chi and yoga can be done standing, seated in a chair, at home by yourself or even in a group-class setting, as allowed by physical-distancing rules. If you prefer to try it on your own first, a simple YouTube search can help you start.
  2. Stretching often. Lack of flexibility can make balance shift, decrease mobility and affect your reaction times to a fall. Try some simple stretching exercises to improve your range of motion, such as calf and hip-flexor stretches. Be sure to repeat the exercises on both sides of the body.
  3. Doing squats. Squats not only allow for stretching, but also can help to improve balance, make getting up easier and increase stability in your legs. Whether you do them freestanding or against a wall, they can help in many ways.
  4. Practicing an array of balance exercises. While tai chi and yoga can help, many exercises can improve balance. From heel and calf raises to one-legged standing, flamingo poses, leg swings and more, you may be able to achieve the results you want while enjoying low-impact workouts.
  5. Finding everyday ways to enhance strength. Many older adults enjoy a walk outdoors, raking leaves, planting their garden and more. These steps can help to ensure you remain active, healthy and in balance. Take an evening walk, tend to your garden in the morning, walk your dog or go to the playground with your grandchildren. There are plenty of everyday ways to improve your balance and increase your mobility.

For more information about improving balance and mobility, please feel free to contact Diakon Senior Living Services.

Cindy Bonney
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Diakon Senior Living Services