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Flex, Bend, & Balance


It's important to stay limber and do activities and exercises that improve your balance as you age.


Working on your flexibility will help you keep doing all the activities you enjoy, along with improving your balance to keep you on your feet.  Aging alone causes loss of flexibility, but diabetes can make you stiffer faster due to glucose sticking to collagen in joints.  Having a lesser motion around your joints increases the likelihood of injuries, falls, and physical inactivity due to fear of falling. 


Activities that you should consider doing at least 3 days per week are dynamic or static stretching and balance training, as well as others like yoga and tai chi.


Stretching is easiest to do after you warm up doing a light activity first.  Do some stretching after daily workouts or any time your muscles feel tight.


Balance training can be as simple as practicing standing on one leg at a time without holding on, first with yours eyes open and later with them closed.


Anytime Balance Exercises: You can do them almost anytime and as often as you like, as long as you have something sturdy nearby to hold onto, if needed.


  • Walk heel-to-toe.  Position your heel just in front of the toes of the opposite foot each time you take a step.  Go along hand rails or with a wall next to you.

  • Walk backwards.  Try walking backwards along a wall or a kitchen counter without looking back, steadying yourself as needed.

  • Stand on a cushion or other unstable surface.  Use cushions or pillows of varying firmness, and stand on them with your legs together and then apart.

  • Stand with a changed position.  Try standing with your eyes open or closed, your head tilted to one side or straight, your mouth talking or silent, and your hands at your sides or out from your body.

  • Grab a towel with your toes.  Place a towel on the floor and practice grabbing it with the toes of both of your feet, alternately, while sitting or standing.


Yoga and tai chi both include movements that work on stretching, strength, and balance at the same time.  You can find yoga and tai chi programs at your local YMCA or other health club, community center, or senior center.

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