By Megan Willman
|Sue Schonberger, group exercise director at Milestone Wellness Center, demonstrates the ankle point and flex exercise. You can do the exercise while sitting or standing. Photos by Patti Hartog|
The following exercises will help you maintain and improve your balance. As you get better, you can make any of these more challenging by doing them with your eyes closed or moving your head from side to side.
- Stand in a doorway. Rock back and forth and then side to side without touching the door frame.
- Get in a split stance (one foot forward, one back). Without moving your feet and legs, rotate at the hips and look around from side to side. This exercise also benefits your hips.
- Ankle Point & Flex. Sitting in a chair, point your toes and then flex your foot. Do this 10 times per foot. This can also be done standing as a more challenging test.
- Ankle rotation. Sit in a chair and extend your leg. Move your foot to the left, then to the right, then pull your foot toward your shin, and then point downward. Do this 10 times per foot.
- Bend & Reach. Take a sticky note and reach up to affix it high up on your wall. Reach high enough that you’re on your toes. Next, move that same sticky note to a low point on the same wall so that you have to bend down. Repeat eight to 15 times.
- Obstacle course. Put a few small objects on the floor of a room. Pick up something to carry (i.e., a laundry basket) and carry it while stepping over the small obstacles.
- Knees-Up Walk. Pull your knees up as high as you can while walking forward five steps. Do the same by stepping backward. Repeat.
- Heel-Toe Walk. Take a step, placing your foot down so that the heel of your front foot touches the toe of the back foot. Do the same with the other foot. Walk in a straight line, touching heel to toe all the way across the room.
- Stand in place, lifting one foot just a couple of inches off the ground. Hold for as long as you can. Stand near something in case you need to stabilize yourself. Repeat on the other side. Close your eyes to make it more challenging.
- If you have a treadmill, try walking on it backwards. Be sure to hold on to the rails. This will feel awkward at first, but is a great balance exercise.