The social distancing and quarantine mandate are forcing people to stay at home. Older adults are the most vulnerable group of people during this pandemic. It is discouraging to see other age groups start to resume activities when this population is still concerned about their safety, despite wanting to go out into the world again. However, exercises are even more important now, when gym access, mall walking and hiking in the park became challenging not allowing you to maintain your physical and mental health. Especially if you fall into the 50+ age group, where it is critical to keep up with your exercise in order to maintain good balance and mobility.
This article introduces 5 exercises that you can do during quarantine to strengthen your balance. Please only do the exercises that you can perform safely.
Exercise 1: Ankle exercise on a chair
Sitting down on a comfortable chair, lift your foot slightly off the ground and slowly rotate it five times to the right and then five times to left. Repeat with your left foot. Then while sitting, take this opportunity to point your toes and hold it for a count of five and then pull your toes towards you for a count of five. Repeat both of these 3-4 times a day, with both feet, when you are sitting.
Exercise 2: Foot pressure exercise while standing
Whenever you are standing, try to raise up on your toes (not too high) and lower back down slowly. Repeat these small heel-lifts five times and do this 3-4 times a day when you are standing still (find a ledge or chair to hold onto if necessary). In addition, while you are standing, shift the pressure under your feet so that you don’t have it focused on just one spot all the time – this can be done by flexing the small muscles in your feet.
Exercise 3: Knee exercise while walking
Take 10 minutes in a way to walk around your backyard or neighborhood. While walking bend at the knee slightly more than usual (or take a slightly longer step) and this will activate the muscles around the knees (and the hip).
Exercise 4: Stepping up and down the stairs
Another good way to challenge the muscles around the knees are to take the stairs, make sure you mix in both up and down. Going up the stairs will strengthen the muscles involved with push off and going down the stairs will help with muscles required to place, control and stabilize your steps. These movements are very important in your ability to recover your balance.
Exercise 5: Get up and stand exercise
The last exercise is a get up and stand exercise that you can do while watching TV. This exercise should not be done alone. Start by sitting on the floor, near your chair or couch, and then try to stand up and sit in the chair/couch. Initially you can use the furniture to help you, but as you get stronger try not to use as much. Do this about 6 times a days (or as many as you can do) and try to alternate whether you turn to your right or to your left to get up from the floor. The muscles around the hips are large and this exercise uses your own body weight to strengthen them.
Although it is still important to engage in balance exercise classes and engage in physical activities in a safe environment, the above exercises will allow you to train your balance and maintain mobility while staying at home. Set a time in a day to do those exercises together with your spouse or challenge your friends to do those exercises three times a week virtually. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is even more important during this extraordinary time to keep our spirits up.