There are two kinds of balance: static balance and dynamic balance. Static balance is your ability to stay upright and in good position while staying still. Dynamic balance is your ability to maintain proper balance and form while moving around (walking, exercising, transitioning from sitting to standing).
All adults, young and old, can benefit from exercises that work on strengthening and improving balance. Older adults, in particular, should tackle balance-increasing activities as they can help to prevent falls, which can be harmful or even fatal for seniors, and can lead to loss of independence and mobility. Balance issues can also impair athletic performance and daily living skills for all people, regardless of age.
Consider incorporating exercises into your routine that address endurance, strength, balance and coordination. Here are a few suggestions:
- Sitting down and standing up without using your hands for support
- Standing on one foot (you can do this holding on to something or not)
- Walking on a line (or if advanced, a balance beam). To do this, you need to walk with one foot directly in front of another. You can hold on to a friend or a wall for support, if necessary, but try to progress to doing it unaided.
- Leg Raises: Stand alone or behind a chair. Lift one leg at a time, first to the side and then to the back. Switch legs. (You can even do this while standing in line…ignore the stares of the other people, they are imbalanced.)
- Tai chi is a slow, deliberate series of movies that emphasizes balance and gentle stretching.
- Certain beginning yoga and Pilates moves also incorporate balance, but they often require strength. Your pain level may or may not allow these more involved calisthenics.
Please check with your health care team before embarking on any exercise program.