When it comes to preventing falls, balance exercise is particularly important. In fact, up to 25% of falls among older people can be caused by poor balance or walking style. Exercise that improves balance can reduce falls by between 22-38%.
Balance exercises should be done for 15-20 minutes each day (about 2 hours a week). Balance exercises should done in addition to other activities you participate in.
Balance exercises can be done in your home. If you like to exercise in groups, there are some good balance exercise programs, including Tai Chi, in the community. To find a program in your are, visit BALANCE EXERCISE PROGRAMS
When you are starting new exercises, you should:
Start slowly. Start with a few repetitions of one or two exercises at a time, and gradually increase how much you are doing. Once you can do the exercises easily and comfortably, you can start to increase the difficulty.
Use support. Rest your hands on a counter top or sturdy table for support. You can gradually decrease the amount of support through your hands by only using your finger tips or by hovering your hands over the support surface.
Wear appropriate footwear. Wear good fitting footwear with a non-slip sole and low broad heel. Running shoes are a good choice. Do not wear slippers or socks.
Listen to your body. Only do exercises you feel safe and comfortable doing. If any exercise causes you to feel increased pain or short of breath or so unsteady that you think you could fall, stop that exercised and talk to your doctor.
Keep track of Your Balance Exercise. Making good new habits can take a while. Use the Balance Exercise Log on page 11 of the Staying on Your Feet TAKE ACTION…to prevent falls booklet available here: Staying on Your Feet booklet