Improving your balance makes you feel steadier on your feet and helps prevent falls. It’s especially important as we get older, when the systems that help us maintain balance—our vision, our inner ear, and our leg muscles and joints—tend to break down. “The good news is that training your balance can help prevent and reverse these losses,” says Wilson.
Many senior centers and gyms offer balance-focused exercise classes, such as tai chi or yoga. It’s never too early to start this type of exercise, even if you feel you don’t have balance problems.
You can also go to a physical therapist, who can determine your current balance abilities and prescribe specific exercises to target your areas of weakness. “That’s especially important if you’ve had a fall or a near-fall, or if you have a fear of falling,” explains Wilson.
Typical balance exercises include standing on one foot or walking heel to toe, with your eyes open or closed. The physical therapist may also have you focus on joint flexibility, walking on uneven surfaces, and strengthening leg muscles with exercises such as squats and leg lifts. Get the proper training before attempting any of these exercises at home.