It’s no secret that as we age, our balance and coordination start to decline. This can lead to an increased risk for scary falls and injuries.
Accidents and falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death in adults over 65, and for those over 50, the risk of falling increases with each year. Not such happy news, but true.
The good news, my friend, is that we can do something to prevent those falls and accidents from happening to us. Many of them are preventable. What do we do?
Work on our balance. Work on our balance. Work on our balance.
Balance exercises for women over 50 are key to preventing falls as you get older. A combination of strength, agility, and balance exercises will help keep you strong, coordinated, and confident on your feet. It’s another way for us to be protecting our health as we age.
Eye coordination, leg strength, balance- these are all important factors when it comes to maintaining your balance as you get older. Remember that the goal isn’t to simply get better at balance exercises; the goal is to live a brisk walk to keep you fit. As women over 50, we need to keep our muscles strong with functional fitness exercises, our hearts healthy with aerobic exercise, and our balance sharp with exercises to keep it in tune.
Yes, it is work, but it so worth it!
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- Why are we more at risk of falls as we get older?
- Fast-Twitch Muscle Recovery
- General Balance Exercises for Women Over 50
- Think About Your Lifestyle
- Think About Your Feet
- Conclusion – Balance Exercises for Women Over 50
Why are we more at risk of falls as we get older?
When we’re young, our senses naturally provide us with a sense of balance. Our eyes tell us where our bodies are in space and the sensory systems in the inner ear help control how stable we feel on our feet.
That’s why when you’re older it’s more difficult to recover from being bumped or tripped- because your body no longer has that natural balance system.
Why does that natural balance system go away as we age?
When you get older, the sensory system in your inner ear can become damaged. The hair cells or “cilia” strain for years and slowly deteriorate over time- which means they don’t work efficiently to help our brain control our balance.
As a result, it becomes more difficult to maintain equilibrium. So if you’re an active adult, it’s important to start strengthening your muscles now to keep your balance strong.
Additionally, we lose muscle mass as we age, and our bones get more brittle- things that make us even more likely to fall.
Why do we lose muscle mass as we age?
Aging causes a loss of muscle, which diffuses happens slowly over time- and it’s especially prominent in our legs. In fact, you’re more likely to have weak muscles the older you get.
Why does that matter? Losing muscle mass can lead to osteoporosis- or brittle bones. Osteoporosis can lead to broken bones, and broken bones may require surgery. And that’s just the beginning: A fall could result in a fractured hip or elbow, and it also increases your risk of early death due to complications like pneumonia and heart disease.
The good news is these effects are preventable! Just as you exercise your body to stay strong and healthy, you also need to exercise your balance system to stay safe.
Fast-Twitch Muscle Recovery
What is fast-twitch muscle recovery? And, what are fast twitch muscles, anyway? They are the muscles that support quick, short bursts of energy. We use them to move quickly from one position to another.
It’s one of the things that happens as we age. In a nutshell, it means our muscles take longer to recover from being used. They lose their strength and tire easily. And if we don’t stay active, this leads to muscle loss and weakness.
Why is fast-twitch muscle recovery something we need to be concerned about as we get older?
Fast-twitch muscle recovery is a part of the reason we lose our balance as we get older. In fact, it’s one of the things that makes us more likely to fall in general. The good news is you can take steps to prevent or slow down your fast-twitch muscle loss!
How do you slow down fast-twitch muscle loss?
As you get older, it’s important to balance strength training with cardiovascular exercises. Strength training includes exercises like squats and lunges- which build up the leg muscles you’ll need to stay strong and balanced as you get older.
Cardio workouts keep your heart healthy so that they can pump blood more efficiently around your body. Not only will this help your fast-twitch muscle recovery, but it will also give you more energy as a bonus!
How Does This Translate into Our Daily Life?
Think about these everyday activities, my friend:
- You’re carrying groceries from the car into the house, keys in one hand, purse over the shoulder, and the sidewalk is slick with rain.
- You’ve started walking down a hallway, you hear your phone ring in the other room, and you make a quick 180-degree turn.
- You’re sitting on the floor playing with your grandkids, toys are scattered all around, and you have to stand up quickly when the oven timer goes off.
- You’re walking across a well-lit parking lot at dusk, and all of a sudden a car backs out from a spot ahead.
Many everyday activities become more difficult with age- but some are just plain dangerous if you don’t have good balance!
General Balance Exercises for Women Over 50
What can be done about our overall loss of muscle mass as we age?
Exercising for balance! It’s what will help increase strength and coordination with a simple and easy workout routine. Strengthening exercises like squats and lunges will build the muscles you need to maintain balance when you get older.
Agility exercises like jumping rope or hopping on one leg will help you learn how to recover quickly when tripped.
Check out this article including explanatory videos that demonstrate eight agility exercises for older adults:
And finally, balance exercises like standing on one leg or with your eyes closed will help keep your inner ear healthy and strong!
Let’s make it practical
How do you take those general exercise suggestions and turn them into actual movements? Try these suggestions:
Walk 10 steps to the right, sideways, then 10 steps back to the left. If needed, keep your hands on a kitchen counter or a long table for support. Repeat several times.
This balancing exercise works the hip muscles on the sides of the pelvis, and you need those in good working order to support your spine, ankles, and knees.
Balance on One Foot:
Stand in front of the kitchen counter or table and place both hands on it. Then, lift one foot and see if you can hold it for at least 15 seconds. Switch to the other foot and repeat.
If you feel stable, try this exercise with your eyes closed. If you are at all uncertain about your ability to do this, have someone nearby to help if needed.
Stand Up / Sit Down
Do this simple exercise several times a day: sit in a sturdy chair with no arms, and slowly stand up and sit back down. Repeat five times, and try to not use your hands for support. Repeat five more times, more quickly if you can.
This will help strengthen your hip and thigh muscles, and will also help your leg muscles feel stronger.
Other simple exercises and activities for women to enhance balance, muscle strength, and fitness:
- Stand on one foot for 30 seconds when brushing your teeth, putting dishes away, and waiting at the bus stop.
- When you’re getting in and out of bed, sit down on the edge of the mattress with one leg extended in front of you before standing up to avoid falls.
- Try doing squats to strengthen your quadriceps muscles, hamstrings, and calves. A strong lower body will help keep you balanced on your feet.
- Strengthen abdominal muscles by doing this several times a day: pull your belly button in toward your spine and hold for several seconds. Don’t hold your breath. Repeat up to 10 times.
- Take dance lessons! Yep, learning some of those simple dance moves can help strengthen your balance.
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Think About Your Lifestyle
Yes, your lifestyle choices can affect your balance, ultimately. Here’s how:
- Your nutrition choices will affect your overall weight and weight gain. If you are overweight, you are putting more stress on your joints and it will be more difficult to move with ease.
- How about that exercise routine? If you don’t exercise at all, then start small. Try walking or swimming for 10-15 minutes a day. As that becomes easier and feels good, add to it until you’re doing everything from gardening to yoga.
Combining these types of workouts and activities with balance exercises is smart!
- Smoking can impact your sense of balance, through increased risk for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and decreased oxygen flow to the brain and other organs.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. Alcohol slows down your reflexes and reaction time- two very important factors in balance!
Think About Your Feet
The best intentions as women over 50 for taking good care of our bodies won’t be realized if we are wearing shoes that hinder our ability to remain agile and exercise as we desire.
We need a good pair of walking shoes. The right shoes for you may not be the ones that look best on your feet- instead, they should have a low heel and good arch support.
We need a good pair of shoes to exercise/walk in. Choose a style that fits your feet well, and has a good grip for the surface you’ll be on.
We need to be aware of how higher heels can be not only difficult to walk in but dangerous for us as women in midlife. Choosing how you look in those 3″ spikes over the results of a trip and fall may not be the wisest decision. Just sayin’.
And the flip-flops? I’ve noticed that as I get older they are not the best for my feet when it comes to balance and stability.
If we want to remain strong and active with exercise and balance, we need to make sure our shoes don’t hinder us with each step.
Conclusion – Balance Exercises for Women Over 50
By following these simple tips as women over 50, you’ll be able to maintain balance exercises for older adults- which is important for preventing falls as you get older! With just a little coordination and strength training, this can all become second nature and keep your quality of life high.
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