Better Balance, Better Strength

A little training can help keep your feet on the ground

A Veteran and their partner, exercising in their backyardYou may already take precautions against falls in your home, like having good lighting, using grab bars and handrails, and keeping floors free of slippery rugs and such. But have you thought about your own balance? Having a better sense of balance will help you avoid injuries caused by slips and falls.

Exercise has many benefits. It helps us prevent excessive weight gain and maintain a healthy weight, lowers the risk of depression, and even helps lower risk of falls and injuries from falls. But did you know it can also help your balance? Stay on firm ground and on your feet with a few simple exercises.

Warm-up and stretch

Sometimes we treat exercise like a visit to a swimming pool; 'just dive right in!' But to avoid injury, you need to warm up and stretch before starting. A warm-up gets the muscles ready for exercise and improves balance by moving the joints through their full range of motion. To get a good stretch, try:

  • stretching in both directions (this means if you stretch to the left, also stretch to the right)

  • stretching slowly and smoothly (avoid fast and jerky movements)

  • holding each stretch for 15-60 seconds

Talk to your health care team about what exercises are best for you. You can also see your progress by tracking your exercises in the Activity Journal.

Build balance and strength

There are simple strengthening exercises you can do to work on your balance. If you are concerned about increasing your physical activity, consult your health care team.

Remember: Start slowly and gradually add to your activity over time. Listen to your body to prevent injury.

Talk to your health care team

Working out is most helpful when you start slowly and build strength to avoid muscle strains. If you're unsure about which exercises you can do, use Secure Messaging (sign in required) to talk to your health care team. Your doctor can help you determine which exercises are best suited for you.

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