[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A well-rounded fitness routine
at any age (and especially as we age
) should include balance exercises. Balance is important for many reasons, starting with the simple ability to perform everyday tasks like walking from point A to point B. It’s also needed for maintaining good posture, coordination and core and leg strength (which help reduce your risk of falls and injuries). The good news is, exercises that improve balance are not only easy to do, they can be done just about anywhere – and at any time. Get started with these simple moves at home.
First, check your balance.
Before incorporating balance exercises into your daily routine, it’s a good idea to assess your current balance level. This will give you a baseline status and allow you to identify progress over time.
Balance can be checked several ways:
- Stand with your feet together. Lift one foot off the ground, and see how long you can hold the position without swaying. Thirty seconds is the goal.
- Do the above exercise with your eyes closed. The goal here is 20 seconds.
- Walk about 10 steps along a “pretend” tightrope on the ground. Did you make it?
Balance exercises to try
Ideally, balance exercises will be done daily. You don’t need any special equipment apart from a chair or countertop. And you can do them anytime, anywhere – at home, work, the gym or even just waiting in line.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and lean slowly onto your right leg until while lifting your left leg off the ground until all weight is on the right leg. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, then shift your weight back to the other side. As you find the exercise becomes easier, increase the length of time you hold the position.
Variations of this exercise can be done by holding your foot to the side, to the back and in front of you, holding each position for 10 seconds.
Simply stand on one leg, placing the sole of your other foot onto your shin or thigh. Hold as long as you can, then switch sides. Again, as this balance exercise gets easier, increase your hold time.
Stand at the back of a chair or facing a desk or countertop. Gently place your hands on top (do not grip tightly). Lift your right leg straight back, then raise your heel toward your buttocks with your foot flexed. Hold for 1 second, then slowly lower your foot to the floor. Continue for 10-15 repetitions, and then repeat on the left leg. (Note: This exercise can also be done using a straight leg.)
Standing calf raises
Performing calf raises helps to strengthen calf and ankle muscles, which boosts balance. Stand at the back of a chair or facing a desk or countertop with feet shoulder width apart and hands gently rested on top. Raise up on the balls of your feet and hold for 1 second, then lower yourself back down. Complete 10-15 repetitions, rest and repeat for another set.
Walk heel to toe
Slowly walk in a straight line by touching your heel to the opposite foot’s toe as you walk across an open room for about 20 paces. For a challenge, try slowly walking backward.
For a more formal type of balance workout, consider taking a yoga, Pilates or tai chi class, all of which are great for improving balance and flexibility.
Trainer tips for balance exercises
For daily practice, whenever you stand up from a chair, do it without using your hands for assistance. Firmly place your feet on the ground and push up through your legs.
Wear supportive sneakers to stabilize your ankles and feet when doing any type of exercise.
Stare at a focal point when performing any balance exercise. This is how ballerinas stay up on their toes!
Exercises such as hiking, walking and jogging all require you to use your balance. They’re also great additions to your exercise routine, if you’re not doing them already.
As your balance improves, you may find that your confidence levels do, too! Strong balance will reduce your fear of being unstable in certain situations.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title="Featured Products" border_width="2"][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/12"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="3/12"][vc_single_image image="160670" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" link="https://www.vitacost.com/gaiam-balance-ball"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/12"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="3/12"][vc_single_image image="160669" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" link="https://www.vitacost.com/gaiam-balance-ball-chair-black"][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width="2/12"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]