Full Body Exercises for Balance

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. Statistics show that people over 65 have a 25% chance of having a fall. However, the good news is that it’s also been shown that falls are completely preventable by people in the very same age group, as well as decrease the impact of the consequences they have.In this class, Mikey and I demonstrated balance improvement, as well as shared some proven techniques to help prevent or minimize the risk of falls.

There are five factors that go into it:
1) Overall Strength – preventive measure against falls
2) Reflexes – needed to adapt to sudden changes quickly
3) Proprioception – a sense of self-movement and body position
4) Inner Ear – helps minimize disorientation
5) Moving Without Relying on Vision (Body Awareness)

Working on these five factors will greatly improve balance, circulation, and full-body awareness. Our goal is to achieve balance through Yoga, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi.

Exercise #1: Ankle Warmups

Balance starts in our feet, and we need to make sure that those are strong, flexible, and coordinated. We rarely move our feet beyond moving forwards and backward, which can cause our feet to be stiff, and limited in their movement. These exercises will loosen the multiple joints in our feet.

Exercise 1 Ankle Warm-ups
Prep: For this warm-up, you will need ample space, and you also need to remove your shoes. Bare feet and socks are what’s recommended for this exercise.

Position: Stand up, extend the leg, and prepare to move ankles in a circular motion.

Get Started:
• Lift your heel up
• Lean into it, and then move it in a circular motion.
• Rotate through the ankle and massage the toes at the same time as you roll the ball of the foot, going from big toe to little toe as you’re circling around.
• Move towards the other direction.
• Repeat for the other ankle.

Exercise #2: Ankle Warmups (Variation)

Exercise 2 Ankle Warm-ups (Variation)
Prep: For this exercise, you might need to find a sturdy spot to hold on to like a wall. Also, you may find that this exercise may be a little painful. If necessary, it’s okay to use a cushion, a pillow, or a blanket for additional support.

Position: Move your foot behind this time and be sure that you are touching a wall, a chair, or anything to prevent you from losing your balance. If it is too painful, you can move your leg further behind you — but if you want more of a stretch, the foot should be closer to you.

Get Started:
• Lift your heel up, and then circle it.
•Rotate through the ankle and massage toes at the same time as you roll the ball of the foot, going from big toe to little toe.
• Move your foot towards the opposite direction.
• Repeat for the other ankle.
• Shake off each leg after you’re done.

Remember to take a deep breath before switching!

Exercise #3: Knees

Exercise 3 for Knees
Position: Feet together, and bend slightly, touching your knees for support. If the exercise is too difficult, you may opt to move your feet further apart, and modify as you go until you achieve a comfortable starting position.

Get Started:
• Move your knees simultaneously in a circular motion. (It is recommended that you use a full range of motion while doing this)
• Do the same in the opposite direction.

Don’t hesitate to modify the exercise. ​​

Exercise #4: Knees (Variation)

Exercise 4 for Knees (Variation)

Position: Same starting position, but this time prepare to move your knees forward going opposite directions. Bend slightly, touching your knees for support. Again, you may opt to move your feet further apart, and modify as you go until you achieve a comfortable starting position. Due to the type of movement, you might need to raise your heels, and that’s okay.

Get Started:
• Same as above, only this time, you will be opening them to the side.
• Remember to pause as your knees return to the starting position, then repeat.

Don’t forget to shake your legs after. 🙂

Exercise #5: Hips

The hips play a big role in maintaining your center of gravity. It is really important since we can’t get the hips shifted when losing our balance.

Exercise 5 for Hips

Position: Assume a wide stance with your legs apart — a little past shoulder width. Open your palms and place them behind you, right on your waist and assume a cupping position. Your hands should be placed just right on the bone, which is the perfect spot to give you much needed support and push later on.

Get Started:
• Move your hips in a circular motion while keeping your legs straight.
• Push your torso forward, to the side, to the back, and make your way around.
• Keep your legs as straight as possible, then do the same thing in the opposite direction.

Be mindful of your muscle fibers as you go through this motion, and notice how much your circulation improves while doing the exercise.

Exercise #6: Hips (Variation)

Great exercise for dynamic balance — which is your balance while moving.

Exercise 6 Hips (Variation)

Prep: You might need a wall or anything sturdy that will help support you. However, if you are able, you will greatly benefit from not having to use a wall, since this exercise will speed up the progress of your balance improvement.

Position: From standing position, get ready to lift your leg up. It is a great idea to keep both your hands on your hips as you do this exercise. (Don’t hesitate to make smaller circles if you’re feeling uncomfortable.)

Get Started:
• Lift your legs and bring them out, forward, then in. Imagine making circles with your legs.
• Notice your toes as you make your way through this exercise, keep them spread to stimulate the nerves and muscles.
• For the next half, move your leg in the opposite direction — so bring your leg forward, out, and back.

This exercise doesn’t only benefit your moving leg, but it also helps with the balance and steadiness of your standing leg.

Exercise #7: Back, chest and shoulders

Since we do so many things with things that are right in front of us right, we want to also work on freeing up these areas.

Exercise 7 Back, chest and shoulders

Position: Take a wide stance on your feet out and bend your knees a little bit to give yourself a stable base. Bring your fingers together up to about your chest height, and then prepare to make circular movements. We’re gonna really work on your posture here

Get Started:
• Starting from the center of your chest, move your arms and hands upward and out, focusing on your chest and shoulder muscles.

Exercise #8: Back, chest and shoulders (Variation)

This exercise focuses on correcting posture by opening the chest and to counterbalance a lot of those forward movements that we do throughout the day.

Exercise 8 Back, chest and shoulders (Variation)

Prep: You will only be needing your body for this. (If necessary, feel free to take a face towel to join your hands)

Position: We want to also work on opening backward, so bring your hands behind you and lace your fingers. If your hands don’t reach, you can use a towel or something similar to bring your hands together behind you.

Get Started:
• From the starting position, draw your shoulders up back and pull them down
• Slowly straighten your elbows.
• You’re gonna feel a nice deep stretch across your chest, shoulders, and all through your spine.
• Breathe three times make sure your neck is comfortable & relaxed.
• Keep your chest open.
• As you exhale release your hands and let them slowly come back to the center.

Exercise #9: Spine Exercise

Exercise 9 Spine Exercise

Position: Take a wide stance on your feet and reach up with your arms as high as you can, then lace your fingers together as you stretch. If you can’t fully straighten your arms, you can put your hands together behind your head.

Get Started:
• Do side bends slowly by dipping your torso towards your side.
• As you return to your starting position, make your way towards the other side.
• Inhale when you come up, and exhale when you move on to the other side.
• Avoid twisting your hips, maintain focused ahead, and keep your shoulders and hips straight.

Once you’re finished, shake your arms a bit to normalize blood flow in your hands.

Exercise #10: Spine Exercise (Variation)

Exercise 10 Spine Exercise (Variation)

Position: Take a wide stance. Bring your hands up in front of you (shoulder level) and make fists.

Get Started:
• Twist your hips towards either side, then alternate.
• Stretch as far as you can without hurting yourself.
• You can choose to change the positions of your arms as you go, which will activate more muscles.
• Don’t be afraid to bring your arms higher or lower to access as much of your spine as possible.

You will notice how much resistance you are feeling, and this exercise will help ease the tension of the muscles in these areas and increase mobility as well as responsiveness.

Exercise #11: Forward and Back Bend

Exercise 11 Forward and Back Bend
Position: Take a wide stance and put your hands on your waist.

Get Started:
• From starting position, look over your left shoulder and move towards the opposite side.

Exercise #12: Neck Exercise

Exercise 12 Neck Exercise

Position: Take a wide stance and put your hands on your waist.

Get Started:
• From starting position, look over your left shoulder and move towards the opposite side.

Exercise #13: Neck Exercise (Variation)

Exercise 13 Neck Exercise (Variation)

Position: Take a wide stance and put your hands on your waist.

Get Started:
• Move your ear towards your shoulder on either side.
• No need to keep pushing if you feel some pain or resistance along the way.

Doing the exercise several times will slowly but surely loosen the joints, and you may find that you could go further than you just did.

Exercise #14: Neck Exercise (3rd Variation)

Exercise 14 Neck Exercise (3rd Variation)

Position: Take a wide stance, and relax your arms to your sides. Tuck your chin in towards your chest, and relax your jaw.

Get Started:
• With your chin tucked, move your head up, as if looking towards the ceiling.
• Take care not to overstretch/strain your neck, and maintain a relaxed jaw, and do this slowly if necessary.
• Exhale as you move your head back down until your chin is tucked to your chest once again.

This stretch is particularly useful to relieve tension and pressure from watching TV or staring at computer screens and phones for too long.

Exercise #15: Jaw Exercise

When we are under a lot of stress, the jaw could hold a lot of tension. This manifests when we grind our teeth while we sleep.

Exercise 15 Jaw Exercise
Position: Assume a relaxed position, and prepare to open your mouth really wide.

Get Started:
• Open your mouth as wide as you can, and allow your face to adapt to the stretch.
• Open your eyes wide, stretch your ears and face stretch, and you can even stick your tongue.
• Relax your jaw.

Exercise #16: Face Exercise

Exercise 16 Face Exercise

Position: Assume a relaxed position and close your eyes.

Get Started:
• Clench your facial muscles for a few seconds, then slowly let go and relax.

It is recommended to rub your face with your hands to shape your face back to its normal state/shape.

Exercise #17: Face Exercise (Variation)

The purpose of this facial exercise is to stimulate all the different parts of your head to revitalize energy points in the blood circulation.

Exercise 17 Face Exercise (Variation)

Prep: Tap your fingers together for a little while until you feel a good amount of energy between them. The tap should be firm, but not painful.

Position: Assume a relaxed position. Get ready to tap your head using your fingers. You will know you’re doing it right when you can clearly hear the tapping sounds.

Get Started:
• Tap your face starting from your forehead, and don’t neglect the area just above your eyebrows.
• You can make your way around your face — temples, jaw, under the eyes, and sinuses.
• You can also start tapping your scalp and make your way to the back of the head just before the nape.

Exercise #18: Ears Exercise

Ear pulling sort of creates a vacuum and allows for the blood to flow more in these areas. Ears also have a lot of energy points, and this exercise will relieve some stress and tension.

Exercise 18 Ears Exercise

Position: Assume a relaxed position. Grab your earlobes with your fingers and get ready to pull.

Get Started:
• Pull on your earlobes.
• Grab on to other parts of your ears (like stretching) and start twisting and folding them.

Exercise #19: Eyes Exercise

Exercise 19 Eyes Exercise

Prep: Rub your hands together, and it is also recommended for your fingers to be interlaced as you do so — making the production of heat in your hands much faster.

Position: Assume a relaxed position, and make sure that your hands are hot from rubbing them together. You can do this exercise sitting down, but it is important to relax for this part.

Get Started:
• Cover your eyes with your palms, effectively blocking out all potential light from coming through.
• Open your eyes (make sure that you can’t see anything), and then stretch your eyes clockwise five times.
• Try to move your eyes around as much as possible.
• Go counterclockwise five times.
• Look left to right then right to left five times each.
• Exhale.
• Rub your face to relax.

Congratulations! You’ve done your whole body tune-up. These exercises are going to help your proprioception,  your strength, your reflexes, all the different factors that go into your balance.

You’ve taken a great step in trying out the building blocks of Yoga and Meditation and with constant practice, you will experience tremendous improvement. We recommend you to stick with this program for the whole week, and see it for yourself.