5 Exercises to Improve Your Balance
by Autumn Jones
Balance is a crucial element of just about everything you do, yet it's an aspect of fitness that's commonly overlooked. That's why it's so important to update your workout routine with a few exercises to improve your balance.
Strengthening your sense of balance can help enhance your posture, boost athletic performance, protect your joints, and decrease your likelihood of falling. Don't take your balance for granted! By challenging yourself, you can increase your stability.
What You Need to Know About Balance Training
Balance training focuses on exercises that increase your kinesthetic awareness, which is your ability to understand where your body is in space and how to move it accordingly. To get around confidently every day — whether you're chasing your dog, carrying groceries up the stairs, or jogging in the park — you rely on the agility and coordination that balance training provides.
You don't need any fancy equipment to fit these exercises into your weekly schedule. Balance training is customizable and can be built upon as your balancing abilities improve. To avoid feeling unsteady or stumbling, use these five exercises to improve your balance and move through your day with ease.
Standing with your feet hip-width apart, raise your arms straight out from your sides so your body resembles the letter "T." Shift your weight onto your toes and hold your heels up off the ground for a count of 10 before returning your heels to the ground. Repeat this for 10 rounds, aiming to increase the length of time your heels are lifted each round.
2. Single-Leg Balance
An easy opportunity to promote better balance throughout your day is to stand on one leg at a time for as long as you can. Try doing this move when you're on your feet for extended periods of time, like when you're washing the dishes, as Prevention magazine suggests. With time and strength, you can challenge yourself by holding the position longer or closing your eyes (really!).
3. Single-Leg Balance With Movement
Once you feel strong balancing on one leg, try adding some movement. According to Mayo Clinic, you can boost your balancing act by bending the knee of the leg that's off the floor. Hold the position as long as you can and then repeat on the other side, slowly building your stamina and duration over time.
4. Bicep Balance
Build on your one-legged balance skills by adding some weight! Standing with your bodyweight distributed evenly between your legs, hold a (lightweight) dumbbell in your left hand. Then, lift your right leg off the floor and bend your knee. Hold the position for a few breaths before switching sides.
5. Standing Crunch
If you're looking for a bit of a challenge, give this one a go! While standing on one leg, try lifting your other leg in front of you until it's at a 90-degree angle, as SELF Magazine suggests. Once you feel stable, crunch forward and clasp your hands under your raised leg. This exercise targets the core muscles, which are instrumental in keeping you steady. It also calls for some serious balancing skills, so if you're able to pull it off — good for you!
As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.