DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I wonder if you can help a senior citizen who has a balance problem. I am wobbly, and I fear I’m going to fall. I haven’t, but I have come close. I saw my family doctor, who didn’t find anything wrong. He sent me to a neurologist, who couldn’t find anything either. Can this be fixed? I lost my confidence in getting around. Do you have any suggestions? – J.W.

How senior are you? Many older people have balance trouble. It comes from a combination of things. One is muscle weakness that’s often age-related. The other is glitches that take place in the complicated connections between the inner ear’s balance organ with the brain, nerves, muscles and bones. I can give you some exercises to practice. Do so with a partner who can steady you if you stumble and catch you if you are on the verge of falling. Incidentally, you made a good move by checking first with doctors for serious problems that might contribute to balance loss.

When you walk, take quicker and longer steps. Start out very modestly, with only a slight increase in your stride length and your pace. Gradually increase both.

For leg-muscle strengthening, practice getting onto and out of a chair. At first, use a chair with arms. Sit down and then immediately rise up and out of the chair. Do a series of five onto and out of movements. You can use the arms of the chair to give yourself a boost, but in time, stop using the chair’s arms. Make the up-and-out-of-the-chair movement a legs-only exercise. Be patient. It takes time to build muscle strength.

Standing next to a wall for support if you need it, and with a friend at your side to steady you, raise the right foot off the floor and swing it slightly in front of you. Hold this position for five seconds. Then return the right foot to the floor and repeat the exercise five times. Then switch to the left foot.

Repeat this exercise, but move the raised foot behind your body.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 72 and have been walking on side roads for 38 years four or five times a week. Will road walking cause me future trouble with my knees or hips? I notice a little twinge in the groin and a little discomfort getting in and out of a car. Also, I work part-time as a salesclerk. Maybe I should not do this anymore. – F.

Do you mean that the sides of the road slope downward and might be causing an imbalance? If you do, walk in one direction and then cross to the other side of the road in returning.

Or do you mean that the road surface is concrete and might be hard on your joints? That shouldn’t be a concern. You should be used to that surface after 38 years.

The twinges of pain and the discomfort are something almost to be expected. Neither is a signal of damage to your joints.

As for your job, if you like what you’re doing, stick with it. It keeps you involved with people and keeps you active. It’s good for your body and your brain.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I read in your column that it is not wise to exercise the same muscles groups on consecutive days. I use an elliptical machine three days a week to get a good cardio workout followed by weightlifting exercises. On alternate days, I jog. Am I using the same muscles in jogging as on the elliptical? I don’t enjoy biking. – B.P.

The day of rest applies to weightlifting exercises, not to aerobic exercises. You shouldn’t exercise the same muscles in weightlifting on two consecutive days. They need a day of rest and recuperation.

For aerobic exercise – jogging and the elliptical machine – you can do it seven days a week.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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