3 Simple Moves to Improve Your Balance

Strengthen your body to avoid falls and stay mobile

Illustration: Heel-to-Toe Walk, One-Legged Stand, Walk the Line

Balance exercises strengthen your lower body and core muscles, which helps keep you steady. Everyone should do balance training, but it’s especially important for older adults.

1 Heel-to-Toe Walk

1. Position the heel of one foot just in front of the toes of the other foot. Your heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
2. Look at a point in the distance ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
3. Take a step. Put your heel just in front of the toes of your other foot.
4. Walk this way for 15–20 steps.

Tip: If you think you may feel unsteady, do this exercise next to a wall or railing.

TAKE: 10–20 STEPS 
Do while...
crossing a room or walking in store aisles.

2 One-Legged Stand

1. Stand behind a sturdy chair. Hold on for balance if necessary.
2. Slowly raise one leg off the floor, about 3 to 6 inches. Hold this position for up to 10 seconds.
3. Repeat 10–15 times.
4. Switch legs and repeat 10–15 times.

Do while...
watching your favorite TV show.

3 Walk the Line

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms out to your sides, like a tightrope walker, at shoulder height or as close as possible.
2. Look at a point ahead of you and focus on it to keep you steady as you walk.
3. Walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other. As you walk, lift your back leg slowly. Pause for 1 second after lifting your back leg and before taking the next step forward. Take 15–20 steps this way.
4. Switch legs and repeat.

Do while...
waiting for food to cook or water to boil.

Always check with your doctor before beginning a new type of exercise.