Balancing Exercises You Easily Can Do Without Any Extra Commitment Of Time (And Why You Should Care)
Let’s start with why care.
If you’re over the age of 50, you have a higher risk for falling. As in tripping and falling to the ground, getting badly bruised, breaking one or more bones – or way worse.
Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury? They’re also the most common cause of trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
As we age, rates of falls increase significantly. Every year:
- 30% of people age 65-80 fall at least once, and
- 50% of those over age 80 will fall at least once
Now let’s add high blood sugar to the mix.
Older people (as in over 50 – eek!) with diabetes have higher risk for and rates of falling. That’s due to slower reaction times, more “postural sway” or lack of coordination (how balanced you are when in motion), visual ability, proprioception (also called kinesthesia or the sense of oneself in relation to surroundings with movement and position), lower limb strength and cognitive function (think brain power).
That’s why the American Diabetes Association recommends balance and flexibility training 3 times a week for people aged 50 and above.
Here’s the easy part.
You can do very simple balancing exercises as part of your daily routine.
You don’t have to make this a whole, big commitment! It may sound. Like, “Oh great. Another 30-minute commitment” but that’s not the case. You can do this while you’re already sitting down or already standing up.
Yes! Do these while part of your routine. Here are examples:
- Stand on one leg at a time. You could do this while talking on the phone, waiting in line, brushing your teeth, or washing the cat dishes. Try it! You might be surprised to find out how unstable you are in the beginning. At first you might want to have something you can hold onto as needed. See if you can build up to 30 seconds or a minute, then switch to the other leg. After you’ve got that down, try lifting your knee up and strike a flamingo pose. That increases the difficulty. And ready for the toughest thing to do? Try standing on one leg with your eyes closed (but caution – only if you have something you can hold onto – don’t want the thing that’s supposed to help prevent you from falling to actually make you fall!).
- While sitting, raise one foot off the ground about 2 inches. Again, build up slowly to one minute on both legs. You can do this while working at your desk, watching TV, in a passenger seat, and hey – even when on the can! To make it a little more difficult, extend one leg forward while the other foot is still on the ground. Challenge yourself a little bit by watching the clock to see how much time you actually can do. And if you really want to feel your belly tighten up, do this: while one foot is on the floor, extend the same arm straight out while your other foot is lifted slightly off the floor.
- Do heel-toe walking in a straight line, keeping your arms out to your side for balance. Try this for 10 to 20 steps while you’re already going to walk somewhere, like to get the mail or on your way to the bathroom. You can get double points if you add in some kegel exercises. Ok, that may sound ridiculous, but it’s really about trying to have a little fun while finding ways to engage your core (by squeezing your buttocks and abdominal muscles at the same time). And you get triple points if you can walk in a straight line backwards.
- Strengthen your toes! While sitting, put a towel on the floor. Practice grabbing that towel with your toes repeatedly. The muscles in those toes are really important for stabilizing your foot and that in turn, can help to improve your balance and help to prevent a fall. Those toes muscles aren’t often used, so with your next Netflix show, bust out the towel!
These are just a few, simple ideas that really can improve your overall balance.
Falls can be devastating. With literally no added time commitment on your part, you can incorporate these easy balancing exercises into your daily routine and prevent a world of problems.