Improve Your Balance With These Two Exercises
You might strive for balance in your day-to-day life (don’t we all?). You may attempt to juggle work, a family, a social life (or any remnant of one right now), exercise, diet, your own hobbies, and more. And maybe you’re doing a pretty good job of it all.
But let’s come at this whole “balance” thing from another angle. Can you stand on one foot for more than 30 seconds? What about your other foot?
Balance isn’t just about juggling aspects of your life. Your physical balance also matters when it comes to your health. In this article, we’ll explore why you should improve balance, and we’ll give you the top two exercises to improve your balance.
Why is Balance Important?
When everything is balanced, life feels oh-so-good. The same proves true within your body and your physical health. When your balance is good, it also makes other movements easier and prevents accidents, such as falls.
When you improve your balance, you improve your coordination, strength, stability, mobility, flexibility, and more. Everything in the body connects. This means when you focus on improving one aspect, it’s likely you’ll improve others as well.
And balance doesn’t take all that work to improve. Realistically, you need about five minutes a day. That’s less than 0.5% of your day (for real).
In fact, balance exercises have an array of benefits, including:
- Improved strength in the core, lower legs, and back.
- Less risk of falling and injuring yourself.
- Improved stability in smaller muscles around the ankle and lower leg.
- Enhancing sport or exercise performance.
- May help reduce back pain, arthritis, or other chronic pain issues.
To put it simply… You’ve got nothing to lose and so much to gain! So, where should you start?
The Balance Test
As with most things you intend on improving, data is powerful.
A baseline measurement gives you a place to start and improve on where the balance test comes in. Basically, how do you know you’re improving if you don’t test it? It’s also a super easy and quick test that requires zero special equipment. All you need is a timer (most of us have one on our phones) and a couple of minutes.
How do you do it?
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Grab that timer. Set yourself up near a table or wall (something sturdy you can grab if you need it). You’ll want to ensure the surface you’re standing on is slip-proof. If you’re wearing socks on hardwood floors, it may be safer to take them off.
Next up, hit that timer and stand on one leg. See how long you can remain balanced on your one leg. Record that number, and switch legs.
If the duration you can stand on one leg for is less than thirty seconds, you’ll definitely want to consider doing the two balance exercises below. Ideally, you want to be able to hold each side for one minute. If you’re below this, it’s probably a good idea to practice either way.
Two Ways to Improve Balance
By now, you know that having good balance is important. And if your balance isn’t quite up to par, you’re in luck. The following two exercises offer the best ways to improve your balance and reap all the benefits.
#1: The Single-Leg Stance
This exercise is basically practicing your balance test. But you can add challenges to it as you improve.
Like the balance test, you should position yourself near a sturdy object to grab hold of if you need it. You should also ensure the ground isn’t slippery.
Again, stand on one leg and keep an eye on the time. Practice five times on each side.
Suppose this becomes easy (which it may for the seasoned athlete). Try placing a pillow or a foam mat underneath to challenge yourself. This really engages the small muscles around the ankle joints.
This exercise also engages your core, leg muscles, and postural or back muscles. In turn, you may experience more ease when performing other exercises, such as the squat or lunges. These can easily translate into easier movements in your day-to-day life, such as making vacuuming easier or picking up objects off the ground a piece of cake.
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#2: The Bean Bag Tightrope Walk
First off, no, this does not involve an actual tightrope. You can squash that worry right off the bat.
And yes, you will need a bean bag or a similar object.
Place the bean bag on top of your head, then slowly walk in a straight line with one foot in front of the other. Perform 10 steps in front and then try 10 steps backward. Did the bean bag stay on your head?
This is a fun one! It doesn’t really feel like “exercise.” But it provides so many benefits. In addition to the benefits similar to the single-leg balance exercise, this one also improves your coordination abilities.
Plus, if you’ve got a spouse or roommate, this one can turn into a bit of a competition. Who can keep their bean bag on their head the longest? Again, have fun with it!
Join the Balancing Act
Start improving your balance today!
Take that test. Do you need to work on it? If so, start doing these two exercises above daily. Before long, you’ll be balancing with no problem (and you’ll gain all the benefits attached to better balance).
This also potentially opens the door toward graceful aging. As we age, balance tends to deteriorate. To improve balance for seniors, it also comes down to practicing these exercises. But if you’re not quite there yet, get a leg up (literally). Practice early, so it doesn’t become a problem or an area of concern later on.
Related article: What Kind of Exercise is Essential for a Healthy Body?