To start with, try each exercise 2 or 3 times and slowly increase the repetitions as you build strength and confidence. For example, in a couple of days you might repeat each exercise 5 times, working up to 10 repetitions in a couple of week's time.
After this time you’ll notice the difference, you’ll see your balance and strength improving, and you feel ready to join a group or class to build on these exercises.
When using a chair or kitchen counter for support, you could start by either:
- holding on quite firmly
- touching the chair or table with a finger
If you're feeling particularly confident, hold your hand just above, but have a chair nearby just in case.
You will need support when doing these exercises so find something in your house that’s safe and secure for you to hold on to. Your kitchen counter or a solid chair are good.
Easy marching is a good way to warm up, and keep your circulation flowing, before any exercise.
To easy march:
- place your feet hip-width apart, relax your body and keep your shoulders down
- start to walk on the spot
- as you walk, make sure you put the ball of your foot down first through to the heel
- if you feel confident, take your hand off the chair
As you warm up, you may feel that you want to raise your knees a little bit higher for a more purposeful march.
It’s important to maintain flexibility at the ankles, so you can cope with uneven pavements.
To move the ankles:
- sit at the back of a chair with your back supported and make sure you’re sitting tall
- lift your leg and slowly pull your toes towards your knee
- slowly push your toes away from you and, in a slow and controlled manner, move your toes forward and back to increase the range of motion
- repeat this up to 10 times on each leg
Toe raises can help to strengthen the muscles at the front of our feet, which are often weak. These muscles are important as they help to lift our feet over obstacles.
To do a toe raise:
- hold on to a chair or kitchen counter for support, and stand tall with good posture
- slowly bring your toes up towards your nose. You may not have quite this level of flexibility, but try to raise them as far as you can
Each time you do this, keep your stomach muscles tight and your bottom in. It's normal to wobble as you practice toe raises.
Toe walking is another important balance exercise.
To toe walk:
- start by growing tall and make sure you’ve got something to hold on to
- pull your tummy muscles in and move slowly up on to your toes
- when you're steady, take small, controlled steps on your toes. Try to keep the weight on your big toe and second toe. Look forward as you step
- bring your heels down, turn towards your support then turn around and go in the opposite direction
- aim to do 10 steps in both directions
This balance exercise is a bit more difficult. Make sure that you’ve got a good solid support to hold on to.
To heel walk:
- standing tall, pull your toes up towards your nose, keeping your tummy tight and your bottom in
- take small, controlled steps on your heels, looking forward as you step. This can be difficult but try as hard as you can to raise the toes up and keep them up during the walking
- turn towards your support, then turn around and go in the opposite direction
- aim to do 10 steps in each direction, reducing your handhold over time
Sit to stand
Moving from sitting to standing is a core exercise that'll help to improve your strength and balance. You can do this anywhere in your home, but make sure you’ve got a solid chair.
There are 3 handholds, you could either:
- push firmly on the arms of the chair
- have a light fingertip touch
- fold your arms and let your legs do all the work, if you're more confident
To sit to stand:
- sit forward from the back of the chair to work the back muscles. Make sure you’ve got good posture and that your toes are back under your knees
- slowly stand up, moving your feet a little bit to get the blood flowing again
- slowly sit back again with control
- repeat up to 10 times