For those 60 and up, staying active is everything—to maintain your muscle mass, to have the fitness to continue enjoying your favorite activities, and to bolster your bone health to improve your stability to reduce falls. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that upwards of 36 million older adults fall every single year, which can result in grisly injuries such as hip fractures and even brain injuries, all of which impact quality of life. What’s more, upwards of 30,000 older adults die each year due to a fall.
Having poor balance and stability as you age is far worse for you than you may realize. Believe it or not, balancing yourself is a cognitively demanding, total-body task—challenging not only your leg and ankle muscles but also your inner ear, your eyes, your joints, and your brain, all of which must coordinate to process a vast amount of information to understand where you are in space and to ensure that you don’t fall.
“People who have poor balance don’t live as long,” Dawn Skelton, Ph.D., a professor at Glasgow Caledonia University in the UK, explained on the popular BBC health podcast Just One Thing. “It has more to do with the brain, and the brain being able to do the right thing. If it’s not doing it well for balance, it’s probably not doing it that well for your hormones and your cardiovascular system. It’s a marker of decline.”
This is why it’s crucial that you incorporate some stability exercises into your strength training routine as you get older. If you’d like to improve your stability and your balance, I’ve put together a simple and quick (5 minutes!) routine that you can do at home with no weights or equipment whatsoever. Do this routine at least 2 to 3 times per week to see and feel results. It will help you stay active, maintain balance, and live a higher quality of life. So set your timer for 300 seconds and perform as many rounds of the following exercises back to back. And for more on reaping the benefits of exercise in your older years, check out The One Exercise That’s Best for Beating Back Alzheimer’s.
Get into a forearm plank position with your back and core tight and your glutes squeezed. Start the exercise by pushing yourself up with one hand, and then finishing with the other. Return to the plank position, and then start the movement with the other arm. For some great exercises you can do, see these 5-Minute Exercises for a Flatter Stomach Fast.
Start by placing your foot on a low step, box, or bench. Keeping your chest tall and core tight, lean into the heel of the front leg and push off of it to step up. Flex your quad and glute at the top of the movement, then lower yourself under control before performing another rep. Perform all reps on one leg before switching over to the other.
Begin by setting yourself up against the wall with your heels, butt, and shoulders touching the wall. Get your shoulder in line with your wrist and feet stacked on top of each other. Keeping your core tight and glutes squeezed, tilt and flex your hips straight up and down, maintaining tension in your obliques.
Stand tall with your arms vertically above your head and one knee elevated in front of you, as if you’re walking up a stair. Then slowly lean your body forward as if to touch the ground with your fingers. As you do so, extend your elevated leg behind you. Keep your back straight throughout the move. Then return slowly to the starting position. And for more exercise news you can use, see here for The One Walking Exercise That Can Predict Your Death Risk, Says Study.