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8 Good Balance Exercises For Seniors And Other Activities To Prevent Falls In the Elderly

8 Good Balance Exercises For Seniors And Other Activities To Prevent Falls In the Elderly

According to the CDC, 1 in 4 older adults fall every year and falling once doubles a person’s chance for falling again.

In many incidences, falls result in injury, hospitalization, and death. Due to the common health implications that come with age, seniors are especially susceptible to falling.

Even though we cannot prevent all falls, seniors can take proactive steps to reduce their risks. One way is to improve overall balance.

What Causes Loss of Balance in the Elderly? 

To create context, we are talking about all the elements involved in physical balance of the body. Balance is the body’s ability to correct itself via proactive reactions in order to stay upright and to prevent falling.

There are two types of balance: static and dynamic. Static balance is the body’s ability to maintain balance in a non-moving position such as standing or sitting in place.

Dynamic balance is the body’s ability to maintain an upright position while in movement such as walking, jumping, turning, or running.

In the elderly, loss of balance can occur when the body’s ability to maintain an upright position is compromised. For example, when you have joint stiffness, muscle weakness, constant fatigue, neuropathy as a result of diabetes and other illness. You may experience challenges in dynamic balance because the body is not able to counteract the forces that keep you staying in an upright position.

How is Balance Related to Falls In The Elderly?

The body’s ability to balance is centered in the vestibular system, which is a sensory system responsible for equilibrium. The vestibular system helps the body recognize vertical and horizontal movement using a combination of visual and proprioceptive (body awareness in space) input.

For example, the eyes scan the environment and pick up that the body is riding in a car and watching the environment fly by the window.

The vestibular body helps the body come to terms with the horizontal movement in the window, thus keeping the body’s postural ability upright.

Balance is much more than just the vestibular system, which means it’s a phenomenon that relies on the whole body’s state of being: muscle strength, endurance, energy, circulation, nervous system, joint stability, and the list goes on.

If any one of these areas is impacted due to injury or illness, that balance can be compromised leading to falls.


What Health Problems Reduce Balance in The Elderly?

There are numerous ailments that can affect balance in the elderly. Any illness that causes weakness, fatigue, loss of sensation, dizziness, atypical movement patterns, and reduced vision can lead to falls or loss of balance.

Examples include ear infections, vertigo, macular degeneration, nerve damage or impingement (sciatica, multiple sclerosis, ALS, stroke), heart disease, blood pressure irregularities, respiratory failure, joint dislocations, fractures, muscle tears/sprains, post-surgical conditions (joint replacements), etc.


What Are Some Good Balance Exercises For Seniors?

There are endless forms of exercise that seniors can use to improve their overall balance, and with the age of the internet these exercises can be immediately accessed for free.

Here are just a few good balance exercises for seniors:


Dance Classes

Dancing is an excellent way to keep up on your balance because it challenges your whole body. Dancing alone and dancing with a partner activates those protective reactions that provide your body with stability.


Although yoga is traditionally a spiritual practice, many sub-branches of aerobic yoga have been created to address strength, endurance, flexibility, and stability. Keeping the muscles stretched and elongated helps prepare the body for unexpected movements such as catching yourself before you fall.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a slow, methodical practice that guides the participant through several movements on both feet and one foot at a time, challenging balance in multiple positions.

Regular Walks

Just going on leisurely walks for about 20-30 minutes per day keeps the body active and the muscles strong to prevent falls and to prepare the body in the event that there is a loss of balance.

Step Exercises

Marching up and down the steps, doing calf push-ups, and stepping forward and backwards keeps the ankles and feet flexible while strengthening the small lower leg muscles that attribute to your overall standing balance.


The thigh muscles (quadriceps) are the largest muscles in the body, which means that they should be taking the brunt of the work in most bodily movements. That includes reactions and stances that contribute to postural stability. Keep those thigh muscles strong with squats, lunges, cycling, etc.


Doing walking laps through a pool is another optimal way to improve your balance. The water is pushing against the body, and the pressure increases the faster you move which makes your muscles work harder and stabilize the body.

Floor Activity ( Practice Getting Up From the Floor ):

Many seniors who fall have not been well-acquainted with the floor for a quite a while. With a professional (physical or occupational therapist or personal trainer), practice transferring to and from the floor. For example, move from a chair to a sitting position on the floor, and then recover by getting up and getting back to the chair. For seniors who are out of practice, this is a full body workout and an effective way to improve balance.

What Steps Should Elderly Seniors Take To Prevent Falls at Home?

In order to minimize and prevent accidental falls at home. You should be doing the following: Removing those pesky throw rugs, wearing non-slip shoes or socks on slick floor surfaces, using ambulatory equipment when medically necessary (i.e. cane, walker), installing grab bars in the bathroom by the toilet and in the shower/bath stall, keep the house tidy and floors clear of clutter, install fall alarms or keep your phone on you in the event of a fall, etc.

Know your abilities and your limits. Take breaks if you fatigue easily. If you feel that your balance is worsening, consult with your primary physician immediately.

Always talk to your doctor before starting exercises that are new to you, especially if you have a history of heart and respiratory problems.

Fall prevention is a combination of techniques that can combat unnecessary accidents and injury.

As mentioned previously we cannot stop every fall from happening, but seniors can put forth their best efforts by exercising regularly, staying active, setting up their house appropriately, and consulting with medical professionals when any new health changes occur.

About Samuel

Samuel is a physical therapist with over 20 years medical experience. He has extensive knowledge in functional rehabilitation in the acute care hospital and in-home care settings. He has spent most of his career helping seniors transition from hospital or rehab care to living independently at home. In his free time he likes to travel and read autobiographies.

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