Fall prevention exercises are the key to avoiding the leading cause of injury to older adults. A fall can cause serious injury, hospitalization, and even death. The risk of falling rises with age but can be preventable.

You can take several steps to decrease your risk of falling and simultaneously improve your quality of life. If you want to protect yourself or an elderly loved one, the following will be covered in this article about fall prevention exercises.

What Is Fall Prevention?

Fall prevention is the act of taking preventative measures to decrease the risk of falling. Fall prevention guidelines, which range from home modifications to physical exercises, are geared towards providing more protection, informative tools, and activities to improve mobility and balance.

Fall prevention measures can greatly reduce the risk of falls in older adults in the home, hospital, and senior living settings.

Why Is Fall Prevention Important?

Being proactive about your health and wellness is one of the best preventative tools against falls. Older adults often avoid certain activities because they fear falling.

With proper fall prevention methods, you can live knowing that you are doing everything you can to protect yourself from the dangers of falls.

What Can Caregivers Do To Prevent Falls in the Home?

Caregivers play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of a loved one. One of the first fall prevention steps is ensuring that their home is equipped with the necessary safety modifications like grab bars, proper lighting, and bathroom durable medical equipment. Additionally, keeping your loved ones physically active is crucial for their health.

The following is a list of the top balance and strength exercises for older adults.

Are you unsure if your loved one can perform these exercises? Perhaps it’s time for Home Health to get involved. Medicare covers a home safety evaluation conducted by skilled physical and occupational therapists that can get your loved one on the right track. Talk to your loved one’s primary care physician to get started.

Top 10 Balance and Strength Exercises for Older Adults at Home

The following are 10 simple balance and strength exercises for older adults that can be done at home. Before anything else, safety is the first priority. Make sure there is a stable surface nearby that you can hold onto for support, or better yet, another person with you who can supervise.

#1 Hip Circles

Hip circles are very easy exercises to improve flexibility and help strengthen muscles around the hip joints.

  • Stand tall with your back straight and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands on your waist.
  • Make a big circle in a clockwise direction using your hips.
  • Repeat the movement 5-10 times.
  • Go back to the starting position and repeat the movement in a counterclockwise direction 5 – 10 times.

#2 March In Place

This simple exercise works on stabilizing the core muscles and improving balance.

  • Stand with a sturdy chair or table in front of you, that you can hold onto for support.
  • Raise your right leg up towards your chest and lower it back down.
  • Raise your left leg up towards your chest and lower it back down.
  • Repeat the motion and march in place for up to 30 seconds.

#3 Side Leg Raise

This movement also helps stabilize the core and works on strengthening the leg muscles.

  • While holding onto a sturdy support chair or table, raise one leg to the side, keeping the toes pointed and the raised leg as straight as possible.
  • Keep your upper body straight and avoid leaning on the opposite side when raising your leg.
  • Lower your leg back down and repeat the movement on the other side.
  • Repeat the exercise 5-10 times.

#4 Toe Stand

Toe stands work on strengthening your calves and leg muscles, while also improving your balance.

  • Hold onto a chair or any sturdy surface for support.
  • Stand tall with your back straight and feet apart.
  • Slightly bend your knees and slowly rise up to stand on your tiptoes.
  • Hold the post for a few seconds and slowly lower your heels to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 times.

#5 Balance on One Leg

Another easy exercise that improves balance is the single-leg stance pose aka balancing on one leg.

  • Place both hands on the back of a chair for support.
  • Lift one leg up and hold the pose for 5 seconds.
  • Slowly lower your foot back down.
  • Left the other leg up and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Lower the foot back down again.
  • Repeat five times and aim to balance a little longer with each try.
  • For a more advanced move, try to balance without holding onto the chair.

#6 Sit to Stand

This exercise will strengthen the leg and core muscles and also teaches the body to be more comfortable when transitioning from a sitting to a standing position.

  • Sit on a sturdy chair with armrests.
  • Stand up with your legs pushing the ground and with the help of your arms pushing down on the armrests.
  • Hold your standing pose for a couple of seconds.
  • From a standing position, slowly sit back down.
  • Use the armrests of the chair to help guide you back to your starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 times.

#7 Heel-toe Walk

This exercise might be a little more challenging for older adults and will require more supervision.

  • Position your body next to a countertop or long table for support.
  • Place your hand on a steady surface while doing the exercise. You can also use a cane on your other hand for added support.
  • Step with your right foot forward, placing the heel directly in front of the toes of the left foot.
  • Step with your left foot forward and also position your heel directly in front of your right toes.
  • Continue to walk in a straight line, with your heel touching your toes with each step.
  • Turn around and repeat the exercise.

#8 Sideways Walk

Another great home exercise for stability and balance is practicing the sideways walk. It is best to do this with a countertop for support.

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, facing a countertop or a sturdy surface you can hold onto.
  • Place your hands on the countertop for support.
  • Take a sideways step to the right with your right foot.
  • Take another step with your left foot, bringing your feet together.
  • Continue stepping sideways until you reach the end of the counter.
  • Repeat in the other direction.
  • For a more advanced exercise, try to do the sideways walk without holding onto the countertop.

#9 Leg Extension

This exercise focuses on stretching your leg muscles, for added mobility and flexibility.

  • Start in a sitting position, with your feet resting on the floor.
  • Extend your right leg out and hold the pose for 3-5 seconds.
  • Slowly lower the leg back down.
  • Extend our other leg out and hold the pose for 3-5 seconds.
  • Lower the leg down.
  • Repeat 10 times.

#10 Leg Stretch

Stretching the legs regularly improves the flexibility of the muscles and relieves joint pain, leading to improved balance and strength.

  • Sit on a sturdy chair and have a small, low stool in front of you.
  • Place your foot on top of the stool and straighten your leg.
  • Reach your hand out to your toes, while your leg is stretched out.
  • Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds.
  • Slowly return to your sitting position.
  • Extend the other foot out and repeat the stretch on the other leg.

Best Exercises for Seniors to Prevent Falls

Regular simple workouts can help strengthen key muscles and improve your balance. With greater mobility, the risk of falling can be significantly decreased. Before starting these home exercises, it is best to consult with your doctor or physical therapist first. Having a professional caregiver assist you through the exercises is also ideal.

Top 10 exercises for fall prevention for seniors:

  1. Hip circles
  2. March in place
  3. Side leg raise
  4. Toe stand
  5. Balance on one leg
  6. Sit to stand
  7. Heel-toe walk
  8. Sideways walk
  9. Leg extension
  10. Leg stretch

Fall Prevention Exercises Frequently Asked Questions

Can falls be prevented in the elderly?

Yes. While the risk of falling increases as you age, most falls can be prevented. Proper fall prevention techniques, strength and balance exercises, and home modifications can lower your chances of unexpected falls and increase your quality of life.

What can cause falls in older adults?

Some of the common issues that increase the risk of falls include vision problems, mobility issues, muscle weakness, and loss of balance. Unsafe environments can also lead to falls and accidents. Simple solutions like removing rugs, and loose cords, and cleaning up clutter in the home can greatly reduce the risk of falls.

Does exercise prevent falls?

Yes. Adding fall prevention exercises into your daily routine can significantly improve your strength and balance, reducing your risk of falling. The right exercises will ensure that older adults have a lower risk of falling and avoid serious harm.

What are the best exercises to prevent falls?

Exercises focusing on muscle strengthening and balance improvement are advisable for older adults. This includes balancing on one leg, heel-to-toe walks, toe stands, marching in place, and more. Falls should not be a frequent occurrence, and if it is, incorporating these exercises is an easy step to fall prevention.

Beth Koehler is a STOTT PILATES certified instructor seen here in her personal studio.

Beth is a STOTT PILATES-certified instructor in Matwork and Reformer. She has also trained in Stability Chair, Cadillac, Injuries and Special Populations, Barre, and various props. Beth has over ten years of experience working with older adults and helping them achieve their fitness goals.