Beginner balance training exercises

As I discussed in a recent column, balance exercises are important for one simple reason: Poor balance can cause falls. Below are two beginner balance exercises. They are a good first step toward improving shaky balance and can be done by people of many ages and abilities, including those who are elderly or frail.

1. Get up and go


Reps: 10

Sets: 1

Intensity: Moderate

Tempo: Go at your own pace

Starting position: Choosing a path free of obstacles, place a soup can on the floor about 10 feet from a chair. Sit in the chair with your hands on your thighs.

Movement: Stand up and walk forward to the soup can. Walk around the can and return to the chair. Slowly sit down in the chair.

Tips and techniques:

  • After rising from the chair, steady yourself if necessary before walking toward the soup can.
  • Go at your own pace.
  • Breathe comfortably.
Too hard? Use your hands to assist you as you stand up and sit down, or do fewer reps.Too easy? Pick up your pace.


2. Standing side leg lift


Reps: 10 on each side

Sets: 1-3

Intensity: Light to moderate

Tempo: 2-2-2

Starting position: Stand up straight behind a chair, holding the back of it with both hands. Put your feet together and evenly distribute your weight on both feet.

Movement: Slowly lift your right leg straight out to the side about 6 inches off the floor. Hold. Return to starting position. Finish all reps, then repeat with the left leg. This completes one set.

Tips and techniques:

  • Exhale as you lift your leg.
  • Keep your shoulders and hips aligned throughout the exercise.
Too hard? Just touch your foot out to the side on the floor.Too easy? Hold your leg up for eight counts, or close your eyes.