Six Aquatic Physical Therapy Exercises To Improve Your Balance
Have you fallen recently? Do you feel unsteady on your feet?
Thousands of seniors fall each year causing physical, social, and emotional trauma as well as a loss of independence.
- Risk of falls increases with age and is greater for women than men.
- 1/3 of people over 65 fall annually.
- 2/3 of those who fall will fall again within 6 months.
- Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older. And consist of approx 9,500 deaths per year.
- Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
- In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
Lack of physical activity is one of the 5 risk factors of falls: Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased strength, and loss of bone mass and flexibility.
- Exercise regularly, daily for 15-30 minutes, with exercise program to increase muscle and bone strength, improve balance, and flexibility. Many enjoy walking or swimming.
- Perform daily activities in a safe manner. Take time to recover from rising from a chair or bed. Clear home from clutter.
- Wear proper fitting, supportive shoes with low heels or rubber soles.
What Other Kinds of Exercise:
- Walking- In your neighborhood, at a local park, in the mall.
- Exercise classes- Yoga, Tai Chi, Aquatic Exercises.
- Physical Therapy- For balance training in a clinic or a pool. Many facilities accept Medicare insurance payment.
Aquatic physical therapy can be utilized to improve your balance:
Exercising in the water is helpful for many reasons.
- Water causes buoyancy and reduces the stress on your feet, knees, and hips.
- Water moves and “pushes” on the body increasing the balance challenges.
- The water allows you to challenge yourself more as there is minimal risk to injury when balance is lost.
Best exercises to do in the water to improve your balance.
Standing on one leg
Standing hip abduction/ standing hip flexion and extension
Step-ups onto a stepper
Other Ways To Incorporate Exercises Into Your Daily Life:
- Park in the back of a parking lot when running errands. Increases your walking distance.
- Raise hip to the side while doing the dishes or cooking.
- Perform heel raises (up onto toes) while you are washing your hands
- Do 10 squats to the toilet when you are finished.
- Balance on one foot or tandem stance while brushing your teeth.
- Take stairs instead of ramp or elevator.
- Tandem walk (heel-toe walking) while holding a grocery cart at the store.
- Walk around or march in place during commercial breaks when watching TV.
Other Risk Factors and Prevention Tips:
- Osteoporosis- debatable whether brittle bones break after a fall or break when stressed resulting in a fall. Get enough vit D and exercise.
- Impaired vision- Get regular check ups with eye doctor. Use color strips to identify steps or any level changes at home. Clean eye glasses often.
- Medications- Can cause reduction in mental alertness, drop in blood pressure, dizziness. Discuss with physician ALL the medications and supplements you are currently taking.
- Environmental Hazards- 1/3 of falls involve hazards at home from tripping over rugs or objects on floor, poor lighting, lack of grab bars, unsteady furniture or flooring.
- A home fall prevention checklist for older adults: http://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/check_for_safety_brochure-a.pdf