As you grow older, you may notice you’re having trouble standing upright. You might stumble a little when you walk, feel as if you’re falling over sideways, or want to reach out to grab something for support.
These are all signs of poor balance.
Poor balance in people 65 and over can be brought on by many things, including neural degeneration, loss of muscle strength, fluctuating blood pressure and blood sugar, inner ear damage, and certain medications.
Being unstable on your legs puts you at risk of falling down and breaking a hip, and this is a serious health concern if you also have osteoporosis. Alarming numbers from the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation show that 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and 80 percent of those are women.
That’s eight million women suffering from osteoporosis in the U.S. alone.
That’s why when you go for your Medicare Annual Wellness Visit at your healthcare center, your primary care providers may conduct a bone density test to check for osteoporosis. If your doctor feels a treatment plan is needed, they will create one specifically for you. You can further reduce your risk of fractures with exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the bones.
Beginner Level Chair Yoga for Seniors
To improve your stability and reduce your risk of falling down, maintain your body with regular exercises that strengthen your core and leg muscles.
Chair yoga is a gentle, low-impact workout and a great starting point for seniors looking to begin a daily exercise regime because it helps develop your core muscles. These are the muscles around your midsection that stabilize your spine, pelvis, and back.
The only equipment you need for chair yoga is a firm and comfortable chair. Start with a daily 10-minute routine and as your muscles gain strength, work your way up to longer, more intense sessions.
Simple Five-Step Chair Yoga for Beginners
Get into position
You will need a comfortable but firm chair, with a straight back. Sit with your back straight and your feet placed squarely on the floor, about eight inches apart. Take six to eight long, slow, deep breaths to let your shoulders relax.
- Foot Rotations
Keeping your back straight, extend your right leg a few inches above the floor and rotate your foot in a circular motion. Rotate to the left for three breaths (in-out-in), then rotate to the right for three breaths (in-out-in). Repeat with your left foot.
- Toe Points
With your leg stretched out, point your toes for the duration of one breath. Next, pull your toes back so that your heel is pushing outwards. Hold the position for one breath. Envision your calf and thigh muscles stretching and lengthening with every toe point and heel push. Continue for six breaths. Repeat the sequence with your left foot.
- Knee Clasps
Keeping your back straight, clasp your hands around your right knee and bring it up to your chest as close as you comfortably can. Hold for one breath. Lower the knee and hold for one breath. Pull it back up to the chest. Continue the sequence for six breaths. Repeat with the left knee.
- Spine Twists
Cross your right leg over your left knee. Reach your left arm over and grasp the front right corner of your chair. Support yourself by grasping the back right corner of your chair with your right hand. Keep your back and neck straight and gently twist your body to the right, feeling your spine stretch. Hold the pose for three breaths (in-out-in). Slowly return to your original seated position and place your feet on the floor.
Repeat with the left leg on the right knee and turning to the left for the spinal stretch.
- Arm Circles
Sitting with your spine straight and your shoulders back, extend your arms fully to the sides, fingers together and pointing out, palms facing down. Move your arms in slow, wide circles. Make five rotations forwards, and then five rotations backwards. Repeat a few more times.
Go back to Step 1 and repeat the sequence of movements. Aim for a 10-minute workout.
Practice your chair yoga daily to limber up, stretch, and tone your body. When you are ready, move up a level with chair yoga poses that are more advanced.
As you build up muscle mass and your core grows stronger, you will be able to better keep your balance and maintain your independence for longer.