Adding Some Balance To Your Exercise Regimen
Balance training is often neglected when people are developing their fitness regime. This may be because they don't understand the benefits of balance training. Balance is the ability to control your body's position, whether stationary (i.e. a complex yoga pose) or while moving (e.g. skiing).
Balance is a key component of fitness, along with strength, endurance, and flexibility. There are various ways to perform balance exercises. Equipment like a stability ball, BOSU ball, or balance board can be incorporated. Improving your balance can also help with performing your daily activities like standing on tiptoes to reach something on the top shelf, walking up and down the stairs, or walking on an uneven sidewalk without falling.
Here are some benefits to incorporating balance training into your workout:
- Body Awareness - Body awareness is the sense of how your limbs are oriented in space, also known as proprioception. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, balance training improves body awareness, which decreases the likelihood of injury.
- Coordination - Balance training requires your entire body to work together, otherwise you will fall or stumble. Improved coordination during balance training will be transferred into coordination in everyday life.
- Joint Stability - Balance training promotes stables knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent a large array of injuries including sprained ankles and serious knee problems.
- Reaction Time - Balance training can improve one's reaction time. If you happen to slip or stumble when performing balance exercises, your body needs to re-balance immediately or you will fall. This in turn will improve your reaction time in everyday life.
- Long term health- Incorporating balance training into your exercise routine helps to maintain or improve your balance, which is needed to prevent falls and fractures. As we age, our balance can deteriorate, something we want to avoid.
It is evident how important balance is to living a healthy, functional life. It is important to incorporate balance exercise into your fitness routine. If you don't know where to start, try these balance exercises:
- See how long you can stand on one foot, or try holding for 10 seconds on each side.
- Walk heel to toe for 20 steps. Steady yourself with a wall if you need a little extra support.
- Walk normally in as straight a line as you can.
If you find standing on one foot very challenging at first, try this progression to improve your balance:
- Hold on to a wall or sturdy chair with both hands to support yourself.
- Next, hold on with only one hand.
- Then support yourself with only one finger.
- When you are steady on your feet, try balancing with no support at all.
Examples of balance training at Body in Balance:
- Tai Chi
- Balance Class