Exercise is a key component to good health for people of all ages. Seniors may especially appreciate the benefits of regular exercise as their bodies change with age. Using an exercise ball brings an element of fun and versatility to workouts. Exercise balls, also called therapy balls or stability balls, can help seniors with balance, muscle strength and flexibility. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine, and ask if incorporating an exercise ball is right for you.
Maintaining balance is critical for fall prevention as people get older. According to the National Institute on Aging, bones may become more fragile from conditions such as osteoporosis as people become older. Therefore, having a fall in a person’s older years can result in broken bones. Exercise can improve balance.
Simply sitting on an exercise ball can help improve your balance as it activates the abdominal, gluteal and leg muscles. You may want to have a chair or table nearby or position the ball against a wall. For proper positioning you should sit on the center of the ball with your knees in line over your ankles. Your shoulders should be in line over your body and your head directly over your neck.
Increase Muscle Strength
Exercise balls help to strength the core muscles. Core muscles are those deep abdominal and back muscles that stabilize and support your body as it moves. Squats are great for core muscles and leg muscles. Place the exercise ball between a wall and the back of your pelvis area. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly to the front of your body. Slowly bend your knees so that the ball rolls up the back. Don’t let your knees go past your toes. One of the advantages to this exercise is that you can control how deep your squats are. Work up to 5 to 10 squats.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that stronger muscles can handle increased weight and stress. As your body ages your joints begin to weaken from normal wear and tear, but stronger muscles help protect your joints.
Stretching exercises help the body stay flexible and limber. Ball sweeps are performed by standing with feet hip-width apart. Hold the ball between your hands. Slowly raise the ball up over your head. Then slowly lower the ball to the floor. Work up to 10 repetitions.
Another stretching exercise involves sitting on the ball with feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise your left arm directly out from you body and over your head. Lower your arm and then raise your right arm in the same way. Work up to 5 repetitions for each arm.
About this Author
Brenda Hagood has been a writer and speech therapist since 1982, and a nonprofit director. She wrote manuals for Total Learning Curriculum and enjoys health, education and family life research. Hagood holds a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders from California State University, Fullerton, and a master’s degree in speech pathology from Loma Linda University.