Chartered physiotherapists say these six simple daily exercises will strengthen your muscles and improve your coordination and balance.
While most people understand that they need to do exercise to remain fit and healthy, this exercise normally takes the form of aerobic exercise (such as walking or swimming), many people are seemingly unaware that they should also be doing regular ‘resistance’ exercise to strengthen their muscles, and balance challenges to improve their balance.
In fact, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical-activity guidelines recommend that older adults should undertake activities to improve their muscle strength and balance on at least two days a week.
But what does resistance exercise entail?
What is a balance challenge? And why are they important?
It’s critically important because many activities of daily living (such as getting dressed or rising from a chair) require both balance and strength to be completed easily and safely.
Thankfully, many types of daily activities can have a positive impact on muscle and balance outcomes. While it’s impossible to list them all, a simple rule of thumb is – if the activity or exercise requires you to exert effort against a resistance then it is likely to be helping to strengthen your muscles (e.g. carrying heavy shopping).
The key is making this a regular, sustained and gradually progressive process, which is where exercise can be more beneficial.
Exercises for older adults to try
These six simple daily exercises from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy will help to strengthen your muscles and improve your coordination and balance – and all you need is a chair.
- Heel raises: stand tall, holding the back of a sturdy kitchen-type chair or kitchen sink, then lift your heels off the floor, taking your weight onto your big toes. Hold for three seconds, then lower with control. Repeat 10 times.
- Toe raises: stand tall holding the same support, then raise your toes – taking your weight on your heels. Don’t stick your bottom out. Hold for three seconds, then lower with control. Repeat 10 times.
- Sit to stand: sit tall near the front of a chair with your feet slightly back. Lean forwards slightly and stand up (with hands on the chair if needed). Step back until your legs touch the chair then slowly lower yourself back into the chair. Repeat 10 times.
- Heel-toe stand: stand tall, with one hand on your support. Put one foot directly in front of the other to make a straight line. Look ahead, take your hand off the support and balance for 10 seconds. Take the front foot back to hip width apart. Then place the other foot in front and balance for 10 seconds.
- Heel-toe walking: stand tall, with one hand on a support like a kitchen cabinet. Look ahead and walk 10 steps forwards, placing one foot directly in front of the other so that the feet form a straight line. Aim for a steady walking action. Take the feet back to hip width apart, turn around and repeat the steps in the other direction.
- One-leg stand: stand close to your support and hold it with one hand. Balance on one leg, keeping the support knee soft and your posture upright. Hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other leg
The animation shows how the six exercises can strengthen muscles and improve balance.