If you're athletic, improving your balance via focused exercises will strengthen and tighten your core, and better prepare you for quick turns and lunges. If you're not super-active, balance practice will improve stability, preventing falls and accidents that can lead to other health problems — especially if you're older.
And a sudden decrease in the ability to balance can indicate some larger health issues, so it's important to keep tabs on your current ability.
Get my drift? You should be doing some kind of exercise to improve your balance no matter what your age or fitness level, pending your doctor's advice of course.
So what can you do that's easy and straightforward enough to work into your daily routine? Here are some great exercises to help improve balance. If you sit at your job, do one of these each time you get up for a movement and balance break.
Balance on one leg
Standing on one leg, while you lift the other forward, to the side, and back, is one of the simplest places to start practicing balance. When you first start, be sure you have something to grab or lean on for safety, as shown in the video above.
This is another exercise where you don't need any equipment, but it will strengthen all the muscles in your lower core — butt, thighs and lower abs — and that will build balance and strength.
Dead lift or single-leg dead lift
Depending on where you are with your exercise program, you can do the basic or advanced version of this move (both detailed in the video). Both exercise will work your back and abdominal muscles, which are important for balance.
Cat-cow yoga pose
Adding an arm extension to this basic yoga move is not only great for stability, it also stretches and strengthens the lower back, reducing back pain and tightness.
This balance exercise is an easy one to do in almost any space. It's easy to remember how to do if you think of your body as the center of a large clock and your leg as the clock hand.
Yoga tree pose
This pose can be made easier or more challenging, depending on where you place your non-standing leg. The longer routine shown in this video will help you build balance and strength over time.
Basic tai chi moves
If you're looking for a more integrated, relaxing or flowing way to practice your balance, it's well-documented that tai chi improves balance while calming the mind and helping with mental focus. These basic moves will give you a good idea of how tai chi works to help balance, but if you are interested in this type of exercise, consider taking a class to get the hang of it.
Remember, according to Harvard Medical School, "Shaky balance can spur a downward spiral. Often, people begin moving around less during the day, voluntarily cutting back activities. Confidence dips, muscles essential to balance grow weaker still, and unsteadiness rises in response. So does fear of falling—and falls."
So practice balancing for a few minutes every day, and don't get caught off-guard.
Related on MNN:
- This simple sitting test could predict how long you'll live
- 6 tools to help predict how long you'll be around
- 20 yoga poses to channel your inner animal