If you want to help your mom or dad prevent falls and injuries, these 6 simple exercises that they can do at home with nothing more than a chair and a plastic glass may be your answer. Of course if your own flexibility and balance isn’t what it used to be doing them together will benefit both of you. You can always send them the video and they can do along with the video if you don’t live close. Falls from poor balance and coordination are the number one cause of hip fractures. Believe me prevention is the key here.
Thanks Dr Mercola for demonstrating these with your mom doing them.
From Dr Mercola: Among the reasons why seniors fall are poor balance and coordination, weakness in your hips and legs, poor posture, and reduced ability to lift your feet, which can lead to stumbling.
These factors — which tend to be primarily due to inactivity — can be counteracted by low intensity exercises such as those demonstrated in the featured video. Here’s a basic checklist of items you will need to perform these exercises:
- A stable armless chair to sit in, and to use for support during standing exercises (make sure it doesn’t have wheels or slide easily)
- Alternatively, you can do the standing exercises in your kitchen, using the kitchen counter for support. If you’re frail and are easily unbalanced, be sure to have a personal assistant with you so you don’t tip over and hit your head on a sharp corner
- A plastic cup, no taller than six inches
Also, here are some general guidelines to consider before you start:
- Avoid wearing rubber soled shoes, as they may increase your risk of tripping. Leather soled shoes are ideal, but make sure they’re compatible with the surface you’re working on.
You also don’t want your feet to slide unexpectedly, as could happen with a flat-soled shoe on carpet for example
- Do not close your eyes during the exercise as this will dramatically increase your risk of losing your balance
- Pay attention to your posture and weight distribution throughout standing exercises. Seek to maintain your bodyweight above your ankles, not your toes or heels
- If you are frail and/or have poor balance, be sure to perform any and all exercises with supervision and/or assistance. These exercises may look easy, but they can be challenging, so don’t go it alone
Seated Balance and Coordination Exercises for Seniors
Begin seated in a chair that won’t move or slide easily. Start slowly, and only proceed to the next exercise once you’ve mastered or are comfortable with the previous one.
Throughout each exercise, be sure to focus on your breathing — you don’t want to hold your breath, as this may cause dizziness. Also remain aware of your core throughout each exercise. You want to gently pull your navel back toward your spine to engage your core muscles. Again, start at the beginning with the first exercise, and only proceed to the next one when you can comfortably perform the previous one. All of the following five exercises will be performed seated.
- Toe Taps on Cone: Place the plastic cup, opening down, on the floor between your feet. Starting with your right leg, lift your leg up to gently tap the top of the cup with your toes, then place your foot on the opposite (left) side of the cup. Lift your right foot back over the cup, and set it down on the right side. Repeat 10 times with each leg, alternating sides.
- Seated Leg Lifts: Lift your right leg with the knee bent at 90 degrees. Hold your leg up with your foot about 6 to 10 inches off the floor for five seconds. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs and do 10 repetitions on the other side.
- Seated March: While seated, march your legs 20 times, lifting your feet at least a few inches off the floor. Be sure to focus on maintaining good posture while marching.
- Hand-Eye Coordination and Balance: Place a plastic cup (opening facing down) in your right hand. Stretch your arm out in front of you while balancing the cup in your open hand.
Slowly move your arm out to the side and back to center. Repeat 10 times with each arm. When you’re comfortable with this exercise, you may try doing it with your eyes closed. Be sure to remain seated, and if necessary, have someone help keep you upright, and/or be ready to stabilize you if you get dizzy.
- Seated Arm Reach: While seated, simultaneously lift your right arm up high and raise your left leg, knee bent. Hold for a few seconds, then alternate sides. Repeat for a total of 20 times.
Standing Balancing Exercises
When you’re comfortable with all of the seated exercises, you can proceed to the following standing exercises. Use a stable chair or counter for support.
Side Leg Raise: Stand behind a chair, with one or both hands on the back of the chair for support. (Alternatively, keep one or both hands on the counter). Lift your right leg out to the side. Repeat 10 times for each leg. If you’re comfortable, do the exercise without holding on to the chair or counter.
Staggered Stance Balance: Place your right foot forward and your left foot behind, then slowly shift your balance from your front leg to your back leg. Repeat 10 times, then switch leg positions, placing your left foot forward and your right foot behind. If needed, do this exercise standing next to a chair, or between two chairs, with the backs of the chairs toward your body, so you can grab on to them for support.