Staying physically active is an integral part of living a healthy and productive life. While there is a lot of focus on cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises, there’s one critical component that often gets ignored – Balance Exercises. These are particularly important for the elderly. The importance of regularly doing balancing exercises for senior citizens has even been reiterated in the latest WHO guidelines.
Keeping this in mind, I have created a three-part Yoga-inspired series with some excellent balance exercises for senior citizens. It includes eye and ear exercises that help improve our co-ordination. You will learn to safely orient yourself in many different yoga positions and improve your capacity to hold a single leg balance. And you will progress through the three levels gradually building confidence in controlling your posture and movements.
There are three classes in this series of roughly 30 mins each, and they’re of increasing difficulty. Here’s what to expect from each of them.
Level 1: Balance Exercises for Senior Citizens
The ability to stand upright on two feet and stay balanced depends a lot on the feedback from our eyes and inner ears. The eyes help you see where you are, and the fluid in your ears gives information regarding your head’s position. If there is an issue with the eyes or damage to the inner ear system, it can impact your sense of balance. This becomes particularly important as we age when eyesight weakens, or the fluid in the ears tends to dry up.
That is why, in this session, we begin our journey with eye, neck, and shoulder exercises. You will first do them while sitting and then repeat them in a standing position. After that, we do some muscle strengthening and coordination exercises like rising from the chair and sitting back.
You can do these exercises two-four times a week, and once you’re comfortable and ready to move ahead, you can start Level 2.
Level 2: Intermediate Balance Routine for Senior Citizens
This class begins with a gentle warmup of our joints before progressing into more dynamic balancing exercises. We improve mind-body coordination by adding alternate arm and leg movements and test our single-leg balancing capability with preparatory exercises.
We then do modified versions of traditional yoga postures like Tree Pose, Triangle Pose, and Reverse Triangle Pose. These not only help improve our balance but also strengthen the legs and enhance agility in our body.
You can do these exercises two-three times a week, and once you’re comfortable and ready to move ahead, you can start Level 3.
Level 3: Advanced Balance Exercises and Chair Yoga for Senior Citizens
This is the final class of the series, and it includes some challenging balancing poses like Half Moon and Warrior III. Therefore, the class begins with joint activation exercises to prepare you for the flow. It then gently guides you into more advanced balances through dynamic repetitions and uses the chair for support. To get the most out of this class, come with an attitude of playfulness, don’t be too serious. Listen to your body, don’t push yourself too much, and instead focus on enjoying the experience.
While I have designed this series keeping Senior Citizens in mind, these are beneficial for anyone looking to improve their balance. Remember to always listen to your body and don’t do anything that doesn’t feel safe or comfortable. It is also very important to get clearance from your doctor before starting any exercise program. Additionally, if you’re very new to any kind of exercise, or suffer from dizziness, it is a good idea to have someone nearby while you do these exercises.
Postural imbalance can happen for a number of reasons and the biggest accompanying risk is of falls and fractures. The good thing is that balance can improve with regular practice! Just like our muscles become stronger the more we use them, our balance gets better the more we do balance exercises. So, be regular and consistent with your practice to enjoy the rewards of an active and healthy life for years to come!