Improve your balance in 5 minutes
How’s your balance? It’s probably not crossed your mind unless you’ve ever had a fall.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just one of those things and there’s not much you can do about it. In fact, 41% of over 70s don’t realise how important good strength and balance is to reduce falls, according to research commissioned by Ageing Better.
We’ve probably all experienced a fall at some point, whether it’s tripping over the cat, slipping on icy pavements or catching your heel in the pavement. Most often the only thing that’s hurt is our pride. But as the years go by, there’s more chance of a fall causing injury, especially as our risk of osteoporosis also increases with age.
Each year around 30% of people aged 65 and over and half of those aged 80 and over experience a fall; this accounts for over 4 million hospital bed days every year. Many of these falls can be prevented by doing the right type of exercise. Things like tai chi, dancing, yoga and heavy gardening are all great activities to improve our strength and balance.
Before you try these simple exercises, let’s test your balance:*
- Stand in a safe space with flat shoes or bare feet and hands on hips
- Have a sturdy chair at your side to hold on to if you need it
- Soften the knee on your supporting leg then lift one foot off the floor
- Start the timer as you close your eyes – it’s easier if you get someone to do the timing for you
- Stop the timer as soon as you have to put your foot down or if you move the supporting foot
- Repeat on the other side and take the best of 3 readings to get your score
How did you get on?
Here’s the average for your age group:
Under 40: 15 seconds
Age 40-49: 13 seconds
Age 50-59: 8 seconds
Age 60-69: 4 seconds
Age 70-79+: 3 seconds
Don’t despair if your score is lower than expected. Here’s a couple of easy ways to improve your balance which you can do in the bathroom and kitchen, remember to practice them every day:
Stand on one leg when you brush your teeth; one minute on each leg is ideal, just hold onto the sink if you need to steady yourself.
Lift and lower your heels slowly when you’re standing at the kitchen sink, try to hold for 10 seconds each time.
This short video from Move it or Lose it – who specialise in fitness for the over 50s -shows you how you can improve your balance in just 5 minutes.
Award winning fitness expert, Julie Robinson, has developed a range of resources to help millions of over 50s to stay strong, active and healthy. Find out more here
Use the discount code – Friend50 – to get 50% off the video club (normally £4.99 month) where you can access exercise routines 24/7
*If you suffer from dizziness or have any health concerns, please consult a medical professional before trying any new exercise.
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