Lately I’ve taken on more and more older clients with a 92 year old lady being the oldest! There are different considerations when designing programs and working within this specific group of clients.

First and foremost is balance.  As we age our risk of falling also increases, in this article I will discuss three basic balance exercises for seniors.

We live in an age where we have made great strides in healthcare, to the point where we are living much longer than our ancestors ever did. The increase in age of the general population brings different challenges, as certain neuro-musculo skeletal changes takes place.

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It is commonplace to loose muscle mass, bone density decrease along with our coordination. The causes could be varied from being sedentary to degenerative diseases like osteoporosis.

Falling more often and ageing goes hand in hand especially as our physical activity decreases, and potentially fracturing a long bone, the femur (long bone of the upper leg) is especially vulnerable with fractures of the neck common amongst people advanced in age. For this reason it is vital too stay active as much as possible and do balance exercise with muscle strengthening exercise.

balance exercises for seniors_2

With ageing comes falling and physical injury

A study published recently by Texas A&M University found one in three people will fall and potentially 15% will suffer a serious injury. With odds that high the need for some form of prevention is important especially as the population of baby boomers age.

A recent Cochrane review found doing actives like Tai Chi improved balance and confidence while reducing the amount of falls by individuals. Tai Chi for me should be one of the go-to-activities as we age, it builds confidence and ensures coordination and mobility through the whole body.

React and regain balance

A large percentage of people falling can’t remember falling. What we want to do with balance exercises is improve the reaction time, increasing our chance after a stumble to regain balance and also be more aware of our surroundings.

Try these 3 exercises to increase balance and confidence

1) Heel to Toe walking

Just as the exercise description indicates, walk forward by putting one foot directly in front of the other heel of the front foot touching the toes of the back. This exercise, depending on how coordinated you are, can also be done walking backwards.

2) Grapevine walking

Start with feet together stepping over the foot i.e. step with right foot over the left placing it on the ground the other side of the left repeat the movement too both sides.

3) Single leg stand

Support yourself against a wall or on the back of a chair, alternate lifting the feet off the ground. Depending on ability start with just pressure off the ground and as you feel more confident try and get the knee as high as possible and eventually without holding on to any object.

Connect here with WatchFit Expert Henry Van Der Walt

References

1) S. D. Towne, J. Cho, M. L. Smith, M. G. Ory. Factors Associated With Injurious Falls in Residential Care Facilities. Journal of Aging and Health, 2016;

2) Kumar A1, Delbaere K2, Zijlstra GA3, Carpenter H1, Iliffe S4, Masud T5, Skelton D6, Morris R4, Kendrick D1. Exercise for reducing fear of falling in older people living in the community: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis. Age Ageing. 2016 May;45(3):345-52.

 

 

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