Do you realize your balance is declining, but feel lost on where to start improving it? Notice that your mobility isn’t what it used to be, but not sure how to take the first step to make it better?

We all get a little lost sometimes, especially when it comes to our health as we age. As a physical therapist, my job is to break things down into the smallest possible pieces to help get someone moving and build their confidence. Taking small steps gets the ball rolling and banishes overwhelm.

Just remember, all it takes is just one step every day in the right direction. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with the list below as a guide.

Start Small and Safe

The best place to start to build balance and movement confidence is to break things down into smaller parts, perform a lot of repetitions, and set yourself up in a safe environment.

A great place to start is to write a list of all the movements you don’t feel confident doing. For example, for many people standing on one foot without holding onto anything would be at the top of the list.

Then pick one activity from your list to start with and break it down into smaller parts. In our example, the first step to standing confidently on one leg would be to shift your weight toward one side while keeping both feet on the ground.

Continue to practice this simple movement. Keep a chair positioned behind you in case you need it and stand in front of something sturdy, like your kitchen countertop, for arm support.

By practicing small movements like this, you train your brain for movement success. In this early stage, repetition and safety are key.

Find a Movement Buddy for Guidance

In my practice, I meet many clients who are afraid to ask people in their life for guidance. It’s okay to tell someone you don’t know where to start and ask for input.

If you’re afraid to start on your own or need accountability, find someone to practice with you or join a local group class. Make sure you’re surrounded with people you feel safe to ask for advice and who will build you up.

Schedule a Few Sessions with a Physical Therapist to Get Started

If you really aren’t sure where to start or the above steps haven’t helped, seek the services of a physical therapist. Therapists are trained in helping people become less overwhelmed in improving their movement.

They can take you through baseline balance and mobility testing so you know where you’re starting from. This will also help you monitor your progress over time. A therapist will coach you through the appropriate progression of exercises, which can help you further build your movement confidence.

Slowly Challenge Yourself as You Build Confidence

Once you start gaining some momentum and confidence, add small challenges through variety. The more variety you expose your mind and body to, the better you’ll age.

Once you’ve mastered standing on one foot on level surface, find a different surface to try. Or practice with your eyes closed. Set up obstacle courses for yourself. The possibilities are endless.

Then continue to make an effort to challenge yourself in small ways each and every day.

Go at Your Own Pace and Be Kind to Yourself

Above all else, just remember that everyone has to start somewhere. It’s never too late to start to improve your balance and movement, so you might as well get started today. Be kind and gentle with yourself and listen to what your body is telling you.

How much movement do you have in a day? Is it intentional? Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of starting to move more? Which movement do you find hardest? Can you think of ways to break it down in smaller parts? Please share your thoughts with our community and let’s have a discussion.

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