6 Easy At-Home Exercises for 2021: Improve Balance and Prevent Falls
When you’re young and agile, it’s easy to climb stairs, play hopscotch, or ride a bike. Balance is something you rarely think about, because it comes naturally. We’ve put together 6 Easy At-Home Exercises to improve your balance and prevent falls.
Unfortunately, that begins to change as you get older. After the age of 50, reflexes and coordination slow down, muscle mass and strength decrease, and changes to your eyes affect depth perception and night vision. All of these changes together significantly increase the risk of a fall, fracture, or more serious injury.
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You may not be able to turn back the clock and recapture your youth, but you can improve balance and prevent falls with easy at-home exercises. Setting aside 20-30 minutes each day to build muscle and improve coordination can help you stay mobile for years to come.
Here are 6 easy at-home exercises to try during in 2021.
You can do all of these with items you already have at home to help better your balance and stand on more solid ground.
1. Stand on one leg.
Did you ever hold balance competitions with your childhood friends or siblings? If so, you’ll probably recognize this exercise. Stand behind a table or desk and place your hands on top. Keep your right foot planted on the ground and lift your left foot. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then switch feet. After you’ve practiced for a few weeks or months, stop using the table. The goal is to stand on each leg for at least a minute without any external support.
2. Rock the boat.
Begin this exercise by standing behind a table or chair with your feet together. Once you’re centered, lift your left leg off the floor and out to the side. Hold for two to three seconds and bring your foot back. Repeat with your right leg. To maximize the balance boosting effects, do at least three reps on each side.
3. Walk the tightrope.
This exercise sounds a little scary, but there aren’t any balancing poles, safety nets, or skyscrapers involved. Start by laying a long piece of string or jump rope on the floor. If these items aren’t available, simply imagine a straight line that begins at your feet and extends outward.
Lift your arms and hold them out to your sides for balance. Walk without veering from the line for 10 to 20 steps, heel to toe Or from one end of the room to the other. Once you’ve finished the line, turn around and go back the other way. Repeat four times. If you want to make it more challenging, hold your foot in the air for two or three seconds each time you take a step.
This exercise is a lot like dancing. Stand up and put your feet together. While facing forward, take a step to the right and slide your left foot over. Do this from one side of the room to the other. Once you reach the wall, shuffle-step back the other way. After you get the hang of it, try speeding up your footwork. If you want to add an extra challenge, put small obstacles in your path, like a bean bag or a rolled-up pair of socks.
For this exercise, you’ll need a table or desk and a chair without wheels. Put the chair behind the table, as if you were preparing to eat a meal, and sit down. Plant your feet firmly on the ground, straighten your back, and scoot your buttocks forward so you’re sitting near the front of the chair.
Lean with your chest over the table. Shift your body weight forward, squeeze your glutes, and slowly stand up. After 10 seconds or so, slowly sit back down. Try to do this exercise without using your hands, but If you feel wobbly or unstable, you can lean on the table or desk for support.
Squats are a great way to build core strength, and a sturdy core is key to good balance. Start this exercise with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands at your sides. Tighten your abs, bend your knees, and push your buttocks out like you’re sitting down in a chair. You don’t have to go down too deep; a 30-degree angle is fine. Once you achieve the squat position, slowly stand up. Repeat several times until you feel your quads and glutes starting to burn. If you want to make the exercise a little more challenging, hold a five-pound barbell in each hand.
By incorporating these and other simple exercises into your normal workout routine, it’s possible to slow down age-related balance issues while significantly lowering the risk of a fall. Before starting any new exercise regimen, make sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.
If you want to maximize the benefits of exercise, it’s important to consider nutrition as well.
Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.