7 Simple Ways to Improve Your Balance this Winter

Having good balance is one of those things that gets taken for granted until it goes away. But unfortunately, as you age, you might notice that your balance steadily gets worse and worse. At first little trips are just annoying or embarrassing, but at some point poor balance can become harmful to your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.4 million older adults were treated in emergency rooms for falls in 2012. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to improve your balance, especially when conditions outside get icy. To stay safe this winter, follow these tips below:

Get your vision examined. If your vision is off, it can drastically affect your balance. That’s why it’s important to visit an optometrist once a year and get any prescriptions checked out.

Review all of your medications. Some medications can actually affect balance, either when taken alone or when combined with other prescriptions. Check with your physician to see if this is true for any you are currently taking.

Do these four exercises daily.

  • One-legged balance: Stand next to a counter in the kitchen, close enough that you can grab it if you start to fall. Raise one leg up at a time and let go of the counter. Try to balance without gripping the floor with your toes or swaying. You should be able to stand like that for at least 22 seconds. Once you get there, try it again with your eyes closed.
  • Leg Swings: Standing close to something you could grab on to, balance on your right leg and raise the left leg three to six inches off the floor. With arms at your sides, swing your left leg forward and backward while keeping your back straight. Then swing the left foot out to the left side and back while holding your right arm out. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Wall Squats: Stand with your back against the wall and feet about two feet away from the wall. Slide down the wall until you are in a seated position. Hold for ten seconds and slide back up. Work up until you can hold for two minutes and use caution if you have bad knees.
  • Single-leg deadlift: Balance on your left foot and bend forward at the hips while reaching toward the ground with your right hand. Raise your right leg behind you for counter balance. Then return to your starting position before doing with the opposite side. Keep knees relaxed and back flat throughout the movement.

Change how you go about your daily activities. Squatting instead of bending over to close a drawer or walking sideways while carrying groceries from the car to the house can help improve your balance. Also try standing on one leg while talking on the phone and sitting down in a chair slowly without using your hands.



Photo credit: Alan

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