Just like exercise and good nutrition, we all know that balance exercises for seniors are important. As a 70-year-old woman, I don’t consider myself “old” and I certainly don’t feel like a “senior” but I also understand that I am getting to an age where falls are a very real danger.
In fact, I have had more than my share of close calls. I have broken my arm, while walking down the street in Ibiza (no alcohol involved!) I have also chipped a tooth on a cobblestone in Paris. But, touch wood, I have managed to avoid a serious injury.
After my last fall, I became obsessed with improving my balance. I started going to the gym. I threw out all of my high-heeled shoes in favor of grippier boots. I even took two long trips to Bali to practice yoga.
Through all of my adventures, I have found a simple truth that I want to share with you about improving your balance. Since everyone’s body is different, I can’t tell you exactly which exercises will work for you. But, I can tell you how I tricked myself into sticking with my balance exercises for seniors every single day.
When I tell you this trick, you will probably groan. Most people say something like “Well, duh… that’s so obvious!” Well, if it’s so obvious, why does NO-ONE do it?
Here’s the trick. If you want to get the most from balance exercises for seniors, start ridiculously, embarrassingly slowly. Then, increase your commitment by a tiny amount every single day. Let me give you an example…
If I were starting over again with balance exercises, I would start by standing on one leg, holding a chair. I would lift my left leg one time. Then, I would repeat the exercise with my right leg. Then, I would stop. The entire exercise would take me 20 second… literally!
Then, the next day, at the exact same time, perhaps while my kettle was warming the water for my morning tea, I would do two repetitions of the same exercise. I would hold on to the chair, lift my left leg, then my right, then my left, then my right. Then, I would stop. Even if I wanted to do more, I would leave my total commitment for day two at 40 seconds.
I would repeat this pattern every day for 15 days, until I was doing 15 repetitions on each leg. At this point, I would be spending about 5 minutes a day doing balance exercises. Pretty good… but, I wouldn’t stop there!
On the 16th day, I would do my 5 minutes of standing on one foot. Then, I would walk heel to toe for one step. Just one! Total time commitment? 5 Minutes and 2 seconds.
For the next 20 days, I would add one more step to my heel-to-toe routine, until I could cross the entire breadth of my little studio apartment. I would now be taking about 6 minutes, including switching time, to do my morning balance exercises for seniors.
For the next 20 days, I would add in balance walking, taking only one additional step per day. By the end of this phase, I would be practicing for 7-8 minutes a day, depending on how fast I went.
Then, for the next 15 days, I would add in back leg raises at a rate of one raise on each side per day. By the end of this phase, I would be exercising for 8-9 minutes a day.
Finally, I would take 20 days to add in side leg raises. By the end of this phase, I would have a total workout time of 10 minutes… Just enough time for my tea to brew nicely as I enjoy the morning air from my open window.
So, where does that leave us? At the end of exactly 3 months, I would have a morning balance exercises routine that I couldn’t break if I tried! In fact, after 90 days, I would probably be tempted to start wearing ankle weights as my exercises would have long ago become too easy!
If your reaction to this is “So what?” think about it for a second longer. When was the last time that you did 10 minutes of balance exercises? If you are like most people in their 50s, 60s or older, the answer is probably “I don’t remember ever doing 10 minutes of balance exercises.”
This process works exactly because it is ridiculously simple. In fact, if you don’t feel a little guilty after each session, you’re going too fast! You are not participating in a race. The goal here is to make balance exercises so much a part of your life that you start doing them without even thinking!
I hope that you found this advice useful! If you have any questions, please add them in the comments section below.
Do you worry about falling? What are your favorite balance exercises for seniors? What do you think of my strategy for making balance exercises a natural part of your day? Please join the conversation!
Tags Healthy Aging