Exercises to Improve Balance and Reduce Fall Risk
by Kaity Hall PT, DPT, ATC

According to the CDC, approximately 30% of individuals over the age of 65 will fall each year in the United States. Over 35% of those people who fall experience limitation in ability for at least a day, if not an injury requiring medical attention. Falls have a significant effect on the individual, their family, and the health care system as a whole.

The good news – there’s something you can do about it!

Strength and balance are some of the most important variables in decreasing fall risk. Both strength and balance need to be challenged regularly in order to function optimally in a variety of scenarios that we experience throughout life.

Strength exercises

Body weight exercises are great for improving your strength and do not require equipment. Research shows that lower body strength is especially important for decreasing fall risk. Try the following lower body exercises to get moving and build strength.  A good place to start is 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions of the following exercises. Aim to do strengthening exercises 3 days per week.

  • Seated marching
  • Seated knee extension – straighten knee
  • Seated hip abduction – put hands on outer knees and push knees out wide against resistance of hands
  • Seated hip adduction – put fists side by side between knees and squeeze knees together against fists
  • Hamstring curls – lay on stomach and bend heel toward buttocks
  • Seated or standing heel raises – push up onto toes using feet and ankles while sitting/standing
  • Sit to stand from chair or air squats

Balance Exercises

Balance exercises are helpful for training joint receptors and your inner ear, or vestibular system, to help keep you upright and on your feet. A note about safety – make sure you are near something stable to grab onto such as a counter or a wall should you stumble. You can also perform these exercises while standing with your back in the corner of a room and a chair in front of you.

  • Static positions – start here! Try to work towards being able to hold these positions for 30 seconds.
    • Two feet together
    • One foot in front of the other (heel to toe)
    • Single leg stance
  • Progressions – try these when static positions are getting easy
    • Add arm swings front and back, side to side, and rotating
    • Stand on a softer surface such as carpet or grass
  • Dynamic activities – in place or while moving down a hallway
    • Marching
    • Hamstring curls
    • Side stepping
    • Heel to toe walking

Other considerations for decreasing change of fall risk

  • Vision examination
  • Decluttering and improving household safety features such as stair rails.

Try these simple exercises on your own. If you feel as though you are in need of further assistance or have questions or concerns regarding your balance or decreasing fall risk, request a free screen today or call us at 866-588-0230! Now offering appointments via telehealth.