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Standing Up Straight & Balance Exercises to Reduce Frailty

We’ve all seen friends, family members, or other loved ones with poor posture – and maybe even a little stopped forward. From the outside, it may not seem like a big deal but there can be detrimental consequences.

Stooped posture changes center of mass (COM) and makes it more challenging to stay upright. This is generally associated with frailty and contributes to a host of poor health outcomes, including increased risk of falls, hospitalization, and even mortality.

An estimated 1 in 4 Americans aged 65+ falls each year, with immeasurable unwanted consequences. You don’t have to be one of them!

The good news: Exercise can prevent and correct poor posture and stooping A consistent routine will not only improve posture but also center of mass control.

The balance exercises below are designed to keep an upright posture while sitting, standing, or moving. This will allow us to better adapt our posture in response to environmental changes.

We’ll learn to move through space with more control, speed, and confidence to improve quality of life, make activities of daily living more efficient, and live with less fear of falling.

The exercises we will practice are “belly button control” exercises. That is where your center of mass starts and the body part that must be used to maintain posture control. 

Tips for getting started:

  • Practice the exercises in a comfortable environment with enough space for you to move

  • Make sure a companion is nearby in case you would like any additional support

  • Add these exercises on to another habit you already do to ensure you get them done! For example: try the seated exercises right after your morning coffee or light breakfast

Level 1: Not ready for walking exercises? Start with these seated balance exercises:

Seated Balance Exercises:
  • Sitting upright: First eyes open and then eyes closed

  • Voluntary trunk movements: leaning forward, backward, diagonally, rotating

  • Dynamic weight shifts: shift center of mass in multiple direction without pause at midline

  • Dynamic body movements against gravity: bouncing up and down, front to back, and side to side

  • Perturbations: push or pull at hips or at hips and shoulders

Level 2: Ready for an additional challenge? Try these standing exercises. Use the support of a wall or chair until you are comfortable supporting yourself.

Standing Balance Exercises:
  • Standing upright with changing base of support: feet together, tandem stance, single-leg stance

  • Dynamic weight shifts: shifting COM in multiple direction without pause at midline

  • Dynamic weight transfers: marching in place and while turning the head or body, forward and backward stepping, lunging in multiple directions, stepping up and down on a box 

  • Kicking stationary and moving balls toward a target

  • Perturbations: push or pull at hips or at hips and shoulders

Level 3: Mastered seated and standing balance exercises? Try maintaining your balance while on the move:

Moving Balance Exercises:
  • Walking with alternated base of support: tandem walking, toe walking, heel walking

  • Lunges: mark lines on the ground that are spaced increasingly farther apart. Lunge different distances. To regress you can step and progress jump across the distance

  • “Rock hopping”: put colored spots on the ground at varying distances. Move “down the creek” by only stepping on the spots

  • Obstacle course: combination of static or dynamic COM activities which have gone over in this blog or any you can think of

  • Resistance-band walking: while walking have a partner increase or decrease tension on a band wrapped around the hips (Perturbations)

To make any of these exercises more challenging and increase event timing requirements you can put objects to pick up on the floor or different levels.

As always, our goal is to provide solutions to help you live life to your fullest and be confident in any environment!

Questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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