Whether you’re competing in a sport, losing weight, managing a chronic disease, or simply looking to stay fit at any stage of life, maintaining a solid exercise program is essential. But one often overlooked element to many exercise programs is balance training. Let’s change this.
Consider the following data from the National Council on Aging: falling events among older adults cost upwards of $50 billion annually, and it’s been estimated that one senior citizen falls every 11 seconds in this country. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal trauma among the older population (aged 65+).
To avoid being a part of these grim statistics—not to mention improve your balance, advance your athleticism, and fortify your health and longevity—we suggest adding in a few balance exercises on the reg.
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3 Balancing Boosting Exercises
Free Standing Leg Swings
You rely on three main things to keep your balance: vision, tactile sensation, and proprioception (the ability to tell where your body is in space). This first exercise is one of the simplest ways to challenge all three. Here’s how to do it:
– Stand on one leg in an area where you have plenty of space around you.
– Without holding on to anything, swing the non-weight bearing leg forward and backward as far as you can without tipping over. Bonus if you can do this with your eyes closed!
– Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch. Perform 3 sets total. You can also try swinging your leg across your body and out to the side.
Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
You may feel like a grasshopper or an oil rig doing this one:
– Start in a standing position while holding a light to moderate weight dumbbell in each hand.
– Keeping your back straight, hinge forward at your hips as you lift one leg up behind you and lower the dumbbells toward the floor.
– Go until the dumbbells are past your shins and your torso and lifted leg is about perpendicular with the ground.
– Stand and switch legs. Try 3 sets of 15 repetitions per leg.
Bosu Ball Squat
A Bosu ball looks like a stability ball that’s been cut in half, with a soft dome side and a hard plastic side. The instability of the device makes for a perfect balance challenge. Here’s how to squat on one:
– Place the Bosu ball with the flat side down on the ground.
– Slowly step onto the Bosu ball, keeping your feet about shoulder width apart.
– Holding your arms forward as a counterbalance, slowly squat down as far as you can go.
– Stand up and repeat. Aim for 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
Don’t have access to a Bosu ball? See if you can find another unstable surface, like a tumbling mat or a folded up yoga mat.
In a pinch? Simply take your shoes off, close your eyes, and try standing on one foot for 30 seconds to 1 minute—even this small challenge done consistently can help!
And keep in mind: there are TONS of other ways to challenge your balance, including yoga, dance, and Tai Chi. Got a favorite way to stay steady on your own two feet?