Balance & Strength

Improving your balance and increasing strength can have a noticeable impact on your risk of falls. In fact, we recommend that you follow the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for older adults, which includes:

  • About 3 days a week of activities that improve balance
  • At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms)
  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity (such as walking) or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity (such as hiking, jogging, or running).

We can help with that – see the Balance and Strength tabs below. Physical activity is extremely important to help you continue to be able to do your daily activities as you age without having to depend on others.

Hear from Kate Brewer, Physical Therapist, on why exercise is so important for preventing falls

Jim and I are really good at the buddy system. We look at each other and it’s like ‘yep, let’s just get up and do our exercises now’. So, we’ll go through the routine and the next day it’s like, ‘yep, let’s get up and do our exercises!’

Sue (age 69) & Jim (age 65)

Vilas County, WI

Strengthening your muscles is essential for keeping your bones and muscles healthy as you age. Gradually, as your balance and strength improve, you will find that an exercise becomes too easy, and you want to make it more challenging. Advancing your exercises (by holding the position longer, reducing your support by not holding on to something, or increasing how many times you do it) is important to build strength and improve your balance to help you stay independent.


I’m 94. They’re planning my 95th already! It’s very important to be mobile and practice some balance exercises. I do exercise classes three times a week at the senior center.

Libbie (age 94)

Brown County, WI

Balance is important for everyday activities and can be improved at any age with regular practice. These are just a few examples of balance exercises that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help reduce your risk of falling.

Exercise Examples

Simple exercises that can be done at home from Doubara Stucki, a Physical Therapist who works with older adults. Be sure to use a chair that is sturdy and doesn’t have wheels and have a sturdy table or counter without wheels for support.


Weight Shifts

Tandem Walk

Practicing balance exercises can help you reduce your risk for certain balance problems, but according to the National Institute on Aging, there may be other reasons why your balance is affected. Such as:

  • Medications

  • Inner Ear Problems

  • Alcohol can cause dizziness and balance problems and interact with your medications. It is best to limit alcohol to no more than the recommended amount or avoid use altogether.

  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or thyroid conditions

  • Problems with your vision

To reduce your risk of balance-related injuries, the National Institute on Aging suggests not walking in the dark, using safe shoes and, if necessary, use a cane or walker. Also, modifying your home can improve your safety and independence.


Our daily activities, like walking up and down stairs, getting up from a chair or bed and carrying things throughout your house require strong muscles. According to the National Institute on Aging, when your leg and hip muscles are strong, you are less likely to fall. You don’t have to lift super heavy weights in order to strengthen your muscles. In fact, you can do strength exercises right at home! 

Exercise Examples

Simple exercises that can be done at home from Doubara Stucki, a Physical Therapist who works with older adults. Be sure to use a chair that is sturdy and doesn’t have wheels and have a sturdy table or counter without wheels for support.

Leg Lifts

Heel Raises

Hip Marches

Muscle strength can be increased at all ages! In just a couple of weeks of doing strength exercises, you may begin to notice a difference. Strength training increases muscle mass, strength, and density of bones which can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and reduce your risk of falling.

Joining an exercise class is a great way to stay accountable, meet new people, and have fun while improving your balance, strength, and physical fitness. Many communities have options for group exercise classes that work on balance and strength exercises that meet regularly. Look for a Stepping On or Physical Activity for Lifelong Success (PALS) class in your area by clicking on the button below, or to find a Stepping On, PALS or other exercise class near you, contact your local Aging & Disability Resource CenterCounty Extension OfficeLocal or Tribal Health Department, gym or fitness center, or County Parks and Recreation Office. Your provider or physical therapist may also know of some local options. 

My girlfriend had asked me for about two years to exercise, ‘Barbara come to exercise’. Well finally after two years of her asking me that almost every time she saw me, I went and so she said she had created a monster. I take all the classes.

Barbara (age 77)

Milwaukee County, WI

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