THIS WEEK'S SOLUTION: WATER EXERCISES FOR BETTER BALANCE
Balance is important because it helps us stand upright both while standing still and while walking. If our balance is poor, we may avoid certain situations such as a busy mall or grocery store due to the fear of falling. One way to improve our balance is to strengthen the muscles of our legs, hip and core in order to keep us strong and in an upright position. A pool is a great place to work on strengthening these muscles, especially for more senior adults. It is a perfect place because the water helps to support your body and therefore makes it easier to move. The support can be adjusted by either by standing at waist height or going deeper and standing at chest height. The deeper you are the more support you will get and the easier it will be! Here are some fun water exercises to try the next time you are in the pool to increase your strength and flexibility. The more you can practice these exercises the better, so remember to wear your polyester swimsuit every time to help with durability and longevity in a chlorinated pool!
1. Forward and Backward Walking: This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles in the front and back of your legs. It is especially important to practice backwards walking because if nudged backwards these muscles will help to keep our balance.
a. Start at either waist or chest height. Walk forward and backward the width of the pool at a moderate pace. Be careful of other swimmers when walking backward. Repeat 10 times.
b. Make sure you are swinging your arms like you do when you are walking on land.
c. For an added challenge try walking at a quicker pace to increase the resistance.
2. Side-Stepping:This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles on the side of your hips. They help to keep your hips and legs straight when you walk forward. They also help you to keep your balance if you are nudged side-ways.
a. Try side-stepping back and forth across the pool. Make sure to take a big step that is slighter larger then shoulder width distance.
b. Try to take 20 steps down and 20 steps back. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
3. Marching in Place:This exercise helps to strengthen the core muscles. They help to keep us from leaning forward and provide stability.
a. Stand at either waist or chest height and if needed hold onto the side of the pool.
b. March forward 20-30 steps making sure to pick up your knees and feet.
4. Kick Board/Pool Noodle Press-Downs: This exercise helps to strengthen the core muscles. They help to keep us from leaning forward and provide stability.
a. Grab a kick-board or noodle and hold it out in front of you. Your elbows should be slightly bent.
b. Think about pulling your belly button towards your back to engage your core. Slowly press the board down into the water then slowly let the board come up. Repeat this 15-20 times in a row.
5. Standing on One Leg: This exercise is working on challenging our balance. It is very important that we can balance on one foot in order to go up and down stairs safely.
a. Hold onto the edge of the pool. Lift up one foot and hold it off the ground for 5-10 seconds at a time. Repeat on both side 8-10 times.
b. For added challenge try to let go of the side of the pool for a few seconds at a time.
6. Heel Raises and Toe Raises: This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles that pick up our toes and our heels. They help to prevent our foot from catching on the ground while we walk.
a. If needed hold onto the edge of the pool.
b. Stand up tall and rock back and forth lifting your toes off of the ground and then your heels. Repeat 20-30 times each.
*For added challenge try any of the listed exercises with ankle weights.