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Exercises to improve your balance

Aging, cancer treatment side effects and certain health conditions can all affect your ability to stay steady on your feet. No matter your age, health or fitness level, you can benefit from adding balancing exercises to your daily or weekly routine.

What affects your balance?

A variety of factors can upset your balance:

  • Aging. Around age 30, the muscles that affect our posture and balance start to weaken gradually. As we age, our risk of falls increases. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls are the top cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults. One in four people over the age of 65 will experience a fall each year, which can lead to broken bones, head injuries and hip fractures.

  • Lack of sleep. One study found that women who only slept 5 to 7 hours per night had a 40 percent greater risk of falling than those who slept more than 7 hours.

  • Chemotherapy side effects. Chemotherapy can cause peripheral neuropathy, or numbness, in your feet, which makes it harder to balance.

  • Medication side effects. Some medications can cause dizziness, lightheadedness or vertigo.  

  • Surgery side effects. You may feel unsteady from lack of activity during surgery recovery or asymmetries in your body from the procedure.

The best exercises to improve balance

The best way to improve your balance is to stay active. The less you move, the less your body will be able to balance. Regular physical activity can:

  • Decrease your risk of a fall

  • Help you power through your workouts

  • Increase your mobility

  • Reduce your risk of injuries

“When people practice balance exercises, they learn to focus, develop coordination and depend on their core muscles,” explains Maureen “Mo” Dwyer, a fitness instructor at Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. “The more they practice, the more they realize how important the core muscles are to achieve inner awareness and control over the body.”

These exercises can improve your balance:

  • Balancing on one foot while holding a chair for support  

  • Ballet

  • Biking

  • Climbing stairs

  • Pilates-yoga fusion movements, such as bridge pose, dancer pose, pelvic tilts and tree pose 

  • Squats

  • Stretching

  • Walking

  • Tai chi

Try a new class in-person at Cancer Wellness or check out a full-length online tai chi class and online chair yoga class to get started.

If you are having significant trouble with balance, talk to your doctor, who may recommend physical therapy.

Schedule your appointment online