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Balance Exercises for the Active Adult

By Beth Jennings, PT, MPT

In the previous blog post, 3 Balance Tests for the Active Adult, we talked about how you don’t have to be elderly or someone who is generally unsteady to work on your balance. 

If you scored well on the tests, good for you! But you should still include balance exercises into your fitness routine. 

If you didn’t do well on the tests, consider coming to see us in the office or try adding 2-3 balance exercises into your routine.

Choosing the Best Balance Exercises for You

Include static exercises – those meant to be held without much movement – and dynamic ones – those which involve movement.

Choose the exercises that you can perform for at least 5-10 seconds without losing your balance. It’ll only frustrate you if you have no success.

Vary your exercises periodically so that you aren’t always doing the same ones. 

Be Safe 

Stand in a corner (facing out). Add a chair in front of you for added safety. For dynamic balance exercises, you might use the length of a kitchen countertop or in a hallway where you can touch either wall.

Static Standing Exercises

Use the following groups to create combinations that are right for you. 

Start by picking a foot position in Group 1 (see below) and spend one minute practicing. Keep track of the longest time you can hold.

Then to increase or vary the challenge, add an option from Groups 2-3. 

Group 1: Foot position

Normal to wide stance.

Narrow stance to feet together.

One foot ahead of the other by 2 inches, or 4 inches, or in full heel-toe position. Vary which foot is forward. 

Stand on one foot. Practice on each foot.

Yoga positions: single or two-footed.

Group 2: Vision variations

Eyes open, focusing on a target in front of you.

Reading a book or the news scroll on the bottom of your TV screen.

Keep your head still but move your eyes left, right, up, and down to different targets in front of you.

Eyes closed.

Group 3: Surfaces

Hard floor

Stand on a soft surface. The thicker the cushion, the greater the challenge. Options include:

Yoga mat or thick carpeting

Thin pillow

Thick pillow or couch cushion

Gym balance disks and boards

Bonus Challenge: Hold the static position while introducing a small amount of movement, such as turning your head, raising an arm, or moving a lifted leg. 

Let’s Put Together a Few Examples:

Comfortable two-footed stance (Group 1) with eyes open (Group 2) on a pillow (Group 3).

Feet together (Group 1) on a hard floor (Group 3) with eyes closed (Group 2).

Do you have the idea now? Here are more:

One foot ahead of the other by half of your foot, on thick carpeting, reading the news scroll on TV

Stand on one foot on hard floor while turning your head left and right, eyes open.  

Stand on a balance dome at the gym while performing dumbbell curls.

Warrior 1 pose on a yoga mat

Don’t be surprised how difficult these can be, so find a combination that works for you. Be safe!

Dynamic Balance Activities

Moving while balancing is how we function in real life, so let’s include balance tasks in action:

Heel-toe walking.

Slow motion walk: Exaggerate each motion. Can you take 5 full seconds to complete a step? How about 10?

Squats or similar variation. Remember these from our previous post?

Gym exercises such as lunges, single-leg deadlifts, squats, and calf raises. 

Vinyasa yoga, where you continuously flow from one posture to the next.

Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese art form that involves continuous movements as well. 

Did you find a static and a dynamic exercise you can include in your daily routine or gym workout? 

Need some ideas or more direct guidance for your balance? The physical therapists at FYZICAL – Forest Grove can help you with that. 

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Beth Jennings, PT, MPT is a freelance writer and a physical therapist.

Disclaimer This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.