4 Balance Exercises To Reduce Fall Risk

Published: November 4, 2016
Updated: April 30, 2020

Balance exercises

Many fitness centers, local gyms, and community centers offer balance workouts and exercise programs.

Tai Chi, Yoga, and step classes are all great workouts – but you can also do some balance exercises at home, too.

So why are they important? Each year, more than one-third of people 65 years and older fall.¹ Falls can lead to injuries such as hip fractures, which can have serious debilitating effects on your life. By improving your balance you can reduce your risk of falling.

Who should do balance exercises? Everyone! But especially for those who have fallen in the past year. Or if you’re someone who easily loses their balance during daily activities.

The following are balance exercise you can do every day, throughout the day or all at once.

4 Balance Exercises You Can Do At Home

#1 Toe and Heel Raises

  1. Stand straight and hold the back of a sturdy chair.
  2. Rise up on your toes and then back onto your heels, without bending at the waist or knees.
  3. Repeat 15 times.
  4. Use the chair for balance as needed, but try to use it as little as possible to challenge your balance.
  5. Take a 1 minutes break.
  6. Repeat again for 15 times.

Progression: When this exercise is no longer a challenge, try it with your eyes closed.

Benefit: Improves balance and lower body strength.

#2 Chair Pose

  1. Place a study chair in front of you if needed.
  2. Begin standing straight with your feet hip distance apart.
  3. Inhale and raise your arms above your head.
  4. As you exhale, bend your knees and bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as you can. (Like you are sitting)
  5. Your knees will go out slightly over your toes, this is ok!
  6. Open your chest and shoulders.
  7. Before lowering, take a few deep breaths.
  8. Start to lower your hips and sit into the pose, as deep as you can while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
  9. Draw your tailbone to the ground.
  10. There will be a slight bend in your upper back, this is ok!
  11. Shift your weight into your heels so that you can lift your toes if you wanted to.
  12. Be conscious of your breath and inhale deeply and exhale.
  13. Hold for 30 seconds.
  14. Come out of the pose by inhaling and lifting your legs out of the pose.
  15. Rest for 1 minute and repeat for another 30-second hold.

Progression: Work towards standing with your feet together and thighs pressed firmly into each other.

Benefit: Improves balance, core strength and supports the muscles of major joints (knees, shoulders, hips and ankles) by building stability.

#3 One Leg Stand

  1. Stand on one foot behind a sturdy chair, holding on for balance when needed.
  2. Hold this position for up to 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat 15 times.
  4. Switch feet and repeat 15 times.
  5. Repeat 15 more times with each leg

Progression: When this exercise is no longer a challenge, try it with your eyes closed.

Benefit: Improves balance and lower body strength.

#4 Hip and Back Strengthener

  1. Stand straight and hold onto the back of a sturdy chair.
  2. Without bending at the waist or knee, place your other hand on your side.  At the top of your pelvis.
  3. Raise your leg straight out to the side.
  4. Your toes should point forward and your pelvis shouldn’t rise.
  5. Lower your leg slowly and repeat 15 times.
  6. Change sides and repeat with the other leg.
  7. Do this exercises twice on each leg.

Progression: When this exercise is no longer a challenge, try adding an ankle weight.

Benefit: Improves balance and strengthens the hip abductor.

*Disclaimer: If you have osteoporosis or low bone density, you may need to avoid or adjust exercises accordingly. If you are unsure, you should check with your healthcare provider.

Thanks for reading our blog post. Let us know what you think in the comments below, and don’t forget to share with your loves ones 🙂

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  1. Reardon, Cheryl Sweeting

    November 5, 2016 , 5:20 am

    Yes, these are all good movements for balance. I have a question about Yoga movements. I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and am doing Yoga. I have been told not to do certain moves such as downward dog and any moves that roll the spine. A former ballerina and nurse tells me to do whatever I am comfortable with and listen to my body! Please give me your opinion on the Yoga moves and what is best when you have osteoporosis. Thank you very much!

  2. Monica

    November 6, 2016 , 1:26 am

    Hi Cheryl,

    Lara Pizzorno recently co-authored an article with Taffy Frost, a yoga instructor, and owner, which discusses safe yoga osteoporosis exercises. You can view that here: https://blog.algaecal.com/yoga-for-osteoporosis/

    It is excellent and should give you a better idea of the safe exercises you can perform. There is a modified version of downward dog that would be much better recommended. I would definitely be hesitant about any moves that roll the spine as you’ve heard and would double check with a certified instructor or someone who is an expert. The article should give you plenty to do that will help with your bone density without the risk!

    Hope this helps,

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  3. Judy Bagalay

    November 5, 2016 , 9:48 am

    Yes agree these are 4 great exercises !!! From my perspective as a Kripalu Yoga teacher.

  4. Monica

    November 6, 2016 , 1:18 am

    Awesome! So glad to hear that from you, Judy 🙂

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  5. Betsy Horn

    November 5, 2016 , 12:17 pm

    Hello Monica
    I am Betsy Horn.
    I am an AlgaeCal ‘girl’ (of 75.). I am launching a new idea which is about health for the over 50s. I would like to include the material I receive and create a link to your site. (I already post it on my site even though I receive no remuneration, because I believe in the products.) May I have your permission to link to your site and show the exercise series you are showing at the moment? If so, please tell me how you would like that happen.
    Kindest regards, Betsy

  6. Monica

    November 6, 2016 , 1:20 am

    Hi Betsy,

    Yes of course – we love when people share our content! If you could email me at [email protected] we can discuss details 🙂

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  7. Lilian Korupp

    November 5, 2016 , 1:50 pm

    Thank you for caring. I will start this evening with your 4 Balance exercise 🙂

  8. Judy

    November 6, 2016 , 6:42 am

    The 4 exercises are very helpful. I appreciate the illustration which made them easy to follow.

    Thanks. JT

  9. Monica

    November 7, 2016 , 5:03 am

    Thanks for the feedback, Judy! Glad they were easy to follow 🙂

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  10. Maxie

    July 19, 2017 , 12:20 pm

    The exercise moves are helpful.

  11. Monica

    July 19, 2017 , 12:51 pm

    Great to hear, Maxie! Appreciate the feedback.

    – Monica @ AlgaeCal

  12. Purification Fiscus

    March 28, 2018 , 7:48 pm

    This exercises look like they would help me. I will try surely try them. Thank you so much.

  13. Jenna AlgaeCal

    April 3, 2018 , 9:57 am

    So glad to hear that, Purification! 🙂

    – Jenna @ AlgaeCal

  14. birutes

    April 10, 2018 , 9:54 am

    Hi,
    Can you suggest some exercises to strengthen shoulder area muscles. For some reason my shoulders hurt and I suspect muscle loss.
    Thank you!

  15. Monica AlgaeCal

    April 11, 2018 , 1:01 am

    Hi Birutes,

    Absolutely!

    Sunshine arm circles are great to strengthen your shoulders. You can see instructions and video on how to do them here: https://blog.algaecal.com/seated-exercises-limited-mobility/
    Shoulder rolls can be done while sitting or standing. Simply shrug both shoulders up towards your ears. Then, rotate them back, down and around to the front and back to the top. You can then alternative directions. Repeat 8-10 times.
    Side shoulder raise is done while standing with small hand weights. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms by your sides and elbows straight. Add a slight bend in your knees to protect your lower back. Raise your arms outwards to the side and lift until they are shoulder height. Lower down to your starting position and then repeat 8-10 times.
    Diagonal shoulder raise is done while standing with small weights, too. Stand with the weight in your left hand, cross over to your right hip with your palm inward (like your palm with weight is resting on your right thigh). Add a slight bend in your knees to protect your lower back. Then, lift upward and across your body back to the left side. Repeat 8-10 times and then do the same on the other side.

    Hope you enjoy these exercises, Birutes!
    – Monica

  16. Cheryl

    July 25, 2019 , 2:45 pm

    I JUST LOVE YOU GUYS/GALS/FOLKS AND HOW MUCH GREAT ASSISTANCE YOU OFFER, although at 73 I don’t look much like the gal in these videos I am getting close to that kind of fitness, thank you algae cal from this osteopenic ‘old’ gal, who has never acted her age!

  17. Megan AlgaeCal

    July 26, 2019 , 10:40 am

    Thank you so much for your very kind words, Cheryl!

    We’re sure you look great ? Keep up the great work exercising and keep on staying young! ?

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  18. Gloria Harmon

    February 5, 2020 , 7:11 am

    I fell about one month ago and injured my right leg. I didn’t feel any pain right away but, now for the last two weeks I have
    Excruciating pain in my right leg. I can barely get out of bed, sit or pick something off the floor. Do you know of any exercise I can do for my problem. I have been taking extra strength Tylenol one time in the mornings. It does help me a lot.

  19. Megan AlgaeCal

    February 5, 2020 , 9:26 am

    Hi Gloria, we’re so sorry to hear about the pain you’re in!

    Since you’ve had a recent injury, we would recommend checking in with an exercise specialist to see which movements are safe for you at this time. It may also be a good idea to consult your doctor about why you are feeling such excruciating pain now. For your knowledge, we do have many exercises on our blog, which you can see here.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery, Gloria! ❤️

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  20. Ellen Featherly

    September 14, 2020 , 2:02 pm

    It’s really wonderful to have some structure and exercises that are really important to increase bone density. Thank you very much for laying this all out and providing it. I love the print out and I’m always referring back for the details to be sure I’m doing it right. How to call is such an invaluable resource! I am so grateful and appreciative in so many ways for all that you provide. Thank you!

  21. Ellen Featherly

    September 14, 2020 , 2:04 pm

    Algaecal not “how to call”

  22. Blaire AlgaeCal

    September 15, 2020 , 1:28 pm

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Ellen! We’re thrilled to hear that you found this information helpful ❤️

    – Blaire @ AlgaeCal

  23. [email protected]

    October 29, 2020 , 10:54 am

    Hi Monica

    When I do chair pose my both knee hurts and back. Is it this normal.

    Thank you,
    Raj

  24. Megan AlgaeCal

    November 6, 2020 , 8:59 am

    Hi Raj, thanks for reaching out!

    We checked in with Dr. Emma Gasinski, Physical Therapist. She states that it is not normal for the knee joints or spinal joints to hurt but you may feel some muscular strain in the legs and the back as you perform the movement because these muscles are activating during the pose. If it is hard for you to tell the difference, it is recommended to see a professional near you to correct your form during the movement. Another recommendation is to make sure you are sitting back as if you were sitting in the chair. A common mistake that is seen is putting the weight too far forward which would place more strain on the knees. Try to place a chair behind you and sit back as if you were sitting in the chair, making sure your chest continues to be open and the shoulders are down and back away from the ears. Be sure to also make sure the back is straight and strong limiting any forward hunching that may occur. This will place the weight back putting more activation in the gluteal muscles rather than in the knee joint.

    Hope that helps, Raj! ❤️

    -Megan @ AlgaeCal

  25. judy knowlton

    May 1, 2021 , 10:43 am

    I suffered a little bit of neuropathy in one food and ankle from back surgery in August 2020 so these exercises are a big help as my balance is way off right now. Thank You

  26. Linda Brann

    May 10, 2022 , 11:04 am

    I am anxious to try these, as my balance has been poor for the past two years following what could have been a sinus infection, or even covid when the disease first made appearances here in the UK. The exercises I have been given were difficult to do, so I gave up. I would like to try these, as they incorporate a support chair if needed. Thank you.

  27. Kirby Johnson

    May 11, 2022 , 2:06 pm

    Linda,

    We can’t wait for you to try them out! It’s always a good idea to discuss any exercises you’re considering with your physical therapist to ensure proper movement, range of motion, and confirming they’re appropriate for your circumstances. Let us know what you think of them, and we certainly hope you’ll take advantage of all the free resources available on our BLOG <3

    - Kirby @ AlgaeCal

  28. Richard

    May 10, 2022 , 5:51 pm

    Interesting exercises, some familiar, some new; looking forward to trying them all!

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,
Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, PhD - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Dr. Carole McArthur
MD, PhD - Professor of Immunology, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City; Director of Residency Research in Pathology, Truman Medical Center.,