Balance decreases as we age, and consequently, falling is a major concern for the elderly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of every three Americans over the age of 65 falls each year, and among individuals 65-84, falls account for 87% of all fractures and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury. The good news is that physical activity can improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. The results of a study of 256 older adults (70 to 92 years of age, average age 77) who participated in tai chi for six months found that there were 52% fewer falls in the individuals who did tai chi compared to those who didn't.
The best way to start is by sitting back until your butt touches a box or bench that’s about 18 to 24 inches high. From there, you simply rise and repeat. Just make sure you start the movement by pushing your hips backward, rather than bending your knees and shifting your weight out over your toes. Your feet should stay flat on the floor while your chest stays up, pointing forward.
While the bicep curl above strengthens the muscle on the front of your arm, tricep exercises focus on the backside of your upper arm — an area that tends to get flabby with age and lack of use. If either of these exercises hurt your elbows, then don't do them. As the triceps tend to be weaker than the biceps, you may want to use a lighter weight to start; maybe as light as two pounds instead of five. For the first tricep exercise:
Stork: One of the simplest exercises to improve balance is to stand on one leg, keep your arms at your side with your shoulders relaxed, and try to balance for 30 seconds. Repeat one to two times with each leg every day. Over the next few weeks, try to work up to two minutes. One hint: Try not to "grab" the floor with the toes of the foot that's on the ground. Relax your muscles, and you'll have more success.To make the stork more challenging, try swinging your arms like you're running. That will throw you slightly off balance and you will need to make corrections to maintain your balance. This can also help strengthen your core and abdomninal muscle groups that are involved in balancing. You can hold bottles of water in each hand for even more of a challenge. Another way to make the stork more challenging is to fold a bath towel over several times so it's five to six layers thick. Now place it on the floor and stand in the center of it. It will be unstable because it's soft, but that's the idea because you want to really work hard to improve your balance and strengthen your muscles. And for the most challenge of all, try doing the stork with your eyes closed.
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