What are two of the best balance exercises for seniors?

Wendy Batts
The best balance exercises may be a little tough to peg down because everyone is different. Balance training comes down to using a narrow stance or one leg to challenge your body’s center of gravity. Here are a couple moves to start with but be sure to consult a fitness professional that can help assess your current skill level and progress your balance training appropriately. If you are unsure about your balance, have something to support you nearby so that you can quickly grab onto it if needed (for example a railing or countertop).
For beginners, take a small step forward until you are in a narrow split stance. From there, place your arms out in front of you, then alternate bringing your arms to your side. Repeat 15 times for 2-3 sets
Progression, place your weight onto one foot and lift the other off the ground, leaving the floating foot about an inch from the floor. Hold on to something nearby if needed. Next, take the “floating” foot and point it in front of you and then to the side (focus on making sure that your knee on the stance foot stays in line with your 2-3 toes to ensure proper body alignment and balance technique). Repeat this 10-15 times and then switch legs.
Good luck and keep training!

Balance exercises help build strength in your leg muscles which is important for maintaining stability and preventing falls. Before trying these exercises, a senior should make sure to have a table, chair or wall nearby to hold on to as needed.

Ball Balance with Alternating Legs

1. Position a stability ball next to a chair (within reach)
2. Sit on the ball like you are sitting on a chair, keeping your head neutral and your back upright and straight (no arching or slumping forward)
3. Draw in your navel to your spine to help hold your posture
4. Your knees should be bent and over your toes and your toes should be pointing straight ahead
5. Place your hands on your hips (or have one hand holding the chair if needed for support and stability)
6. Lift one leg and hold for a count of 10. Switch legs

As you get more comfortable, you can balance for a longer time and try it without holding on as long as you feel balanced. Make sure you're breathing!

Single Leg Balance

1. Stand with your head in neutral position, shoulders relaxed, and feet pointed straight ahead, placed hip-width apart with your knees over your toes
2. Draw-in your navel to your spine and squeeze your butt(glutes)
3. Place one hand against a wall (to your side) and lift the opposite leg while balancing on the leg closest to the wall
4. Try to maintain level hips and shoulders. Hold the balance position.
5. Repeat to the other side. You can try counting to 10 while balancing and then switching sides.

When you feel comfortable, you can try it without holding on to the wall but stay closeby for safety.



Sharine Forbes
Geriatric Medicine
I always like to recommend yoga as it stretches out the muscles and aids in balance. Balance is important for seniors as it can help prevent falls and facilitate walking and other leisure activities. It is also helpful in building muscle strength and definition. Also, aqua-therapy is great. This includes swimming in a pool which is sometimes easier for seniors as the chances of "falling" while exercising in a pool are greatly diminished.

Any balance exercise that you are able to complete is a great balance exercise. Two great exercises that may be completed are:

  • Single-leg balance – Balance on one leg and keep the opposite knee slightly bent. From here, extend one leg forward and backwards. This may sound simple but can surely be challenging
  • Quadruped – Start on your hands and knees. Next, take your right and left leg and extend them forming a straight line or as straight of a line as possible. Next, return to start and switch sides or stay on one side for 8-15 repetitions.

Continue Learning about Fitness for Seniors

4 Tips for Staying Mobile
4 Tips for Staying Mobile
A juicy orange. A handful of crunchy walnuts sprinkled on a leafy green salad. A sweet, sun-ripened pear. Turns out clean, natural foods like these do...
Read More
As an older person, how should I start an exercise program?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Older adults experience physiological changes and degeneration with age. A well-designed resista...
More Answers
How does exercise affect dementia in seniors?
Int'l Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)Int'l Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)
Exercise appears to help prevent dementia in seniors, according to experts. Seniors who are sedentar...
More Answers
How can I make up for the muscle mass I lose as I age?
Clyde Mealy, M.S., NASM, ACSM, IYCA, ISSA, TRXClyde Mealy, M.S., NASM, ACSM, IYCA, ISSA, TRX
Assuming you are healthy enough to engage in physical activity, resistance training or weight-liftin...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.