How to Improve Balance and Prevent Falls
Every year, one in four older adults will experience a fall. This can often lead to painful injuries such as hip fractures. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death in this age group, but if you are 65 or older, you don’t need to consider falls to be a natural part of the aging process. Improving your balance will greatly decrease your risk of experiencing a fall.
Tips for how to improve balance through exercise
As you age, the systems that prevent falls are also aging. Your vision, muscles, and central nervous system are all losing a small amount of function the older you become. Your reaction time to trip hazards is increasing as well. All of these factors combine to create a great risk of falling as you age. Here are some ways on how improve balance through exercise:
- Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. This helps serve as gait training as well as increasing your stamina.
- Lift weights to help strengthen your muscles. You can use hand weights, resistance bands, or weight machines.
- Flexibility training such as stretching or yoga. Find a local class with other seniors who are interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
- Tai Chi for muscle strength and balance. This ancient Chinese practice has been shown to decrease the incidence of falls in older adults.
Before starting any exercise program for how to improve balance, you should consult your doctor. If you experience pain or dizziness after a new activity, stop and rest.
Tips for how to improve balance through training
Exercise is not the only way to improve your balance and avoid falls. This can also be accomplished through balance training activities that you can do as you go about your day. Some examples are:
- Alternate balancing on one foot while waiting in line
- Practice sitting and standing without using your hands for assistance
- After you are used to taking walks, try switching to an uneven surface.
By combining exercise and balance training, you can help condition your body to avoid a nasty fall. If you are looking for help with getting started on a plan for how to improve balance, contact the physical and occupational therapy office at Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group. We can help develop a plan to keep you on your feet. If you do experience a fall, the physicians at Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group can help as well. Give us a call today.