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Top-10 Balance Exercises for General Debility

In a recent Facebook poll on balance, "general debility" had the most votes requesting a top-10 exercise list. As the winner, this post is devoted to outlining 10 of the top balance exercises for individuals with general debility. Turn general debility into overall ability with these 10 exercise gems.

For clarity, general debility is defined as a loss of strength, balance, and/or endurance due to a combination of aging, inactivity, and ill-effects of medical conditions and/or injuries. General debility is an overall decline in function, rather than an isolate issue or problem.

Knowing that we need exercises for static, dynamic, and reactionary balance; a thorough review of balance exercises resulted in the following 10 making the cut.

1. Exercise 7: Weight Shifting - Forward & Back. Moving and controlling body movements is important to reaching deep into a pantry of fridge. This exercise also challenges medial and lateral stability, which is often affected in general debility. 

2. Exercise 91: Placing Games. By locating targets high, low, and behind the patient, this exercise challenges reaching in all directions. It is also easily graded, e.g., move the targets further away to make exercise more challenging.

3. Exercise 95: Line Up. Since all of the items (cones, rings, etc.) are on the targets from the previous exercise (Placing Games), this exercise will require the patient to bring them back to the starting point with the added challenge of lining them up according to the diagram presented (a little added cognitive challenge for fun).

4. Exercise 76: Randomized Stepping + Clock Yourself. Improving stepping speed and strength in all directions is important for preventing falls. Be ready for the unsteady when stepping to numbers 5, 6, 7, and 12.  

5. Exercise 77: Randomized Stepping + Quadrant Hurdle. This exercise challenges and improves stepping, pivoting, and changing directions - typically challenging for general debility patients. Note: raise the hurdle off the floor for additional degree of difficulty. 

6. Exercise 81: Randomized Sit-Stands + Stepping. Build leg strength with the sit-stand movements and reduce delays in gait initiation by adding stepping element. Use of colors helps randomize stepping direction and improve control during sudden changes in movement - important for fall prevention. 

7. Exercise 86: Randomized Gait - All Directions. This exercise does a great job of mimicking how one typically completes daily tasks, e.g., take a step one direction, turn, pivot, step another direction, reach, stretch to grab something, then turn and walk, etc. 

8. Exercise 62: Combo - Progressively Higher Hurdles. Just like a track and field event, the hurdle gets higher after each successfully cleared height. Goal is for individual to safely clear height needed to step over edge of tub, shower, dog, etc. The higher the hurdle, the more time spent in single leg stance, and the bigger the demand on balance. 

9. Exercise 88: Rocky Road. If the future plan is to walk outside again, this exercise will help prepare your patient for unexpected changes in surface contour (lumps, bumps, and humps).

10. Exercise 59: Gait on Obstacles - Stairs. Many homes have steps and stairs. Regaining the ability to safely navigate stairs without touching or holding will help reduce fall risk at one of the most dangerous spots in a home!

Note: Exercises featured in this post are from the book Balance Training: 5 Laws & 100+ Exercises.