When you make the surface underneath you smaller or less stable, you will be forced to steady yourself to maintain stability. Balance training can be performed at many ability levels, with, or without equipment.
A very simply way to integrate balance training is to simply lift to a one-leg position. This immediately challenges your body’s stability.
Easy: Leg swings back and forth
Advanced: Hop back and forth on one foot
To add variety and challenge to your surfaces, try adding a thick yoga mat under your feet, such as our SMART Mat. Or head to the beach and try the exercises on sand.
What happens during a balance workout:
Balance is said to be the key to all functional movement because it ties the physical movements of the body to the mind. Kinesthetic awareness, sometimes referred to as “proprioception” is the ability to perceive the position and movement of our body. This is needed in every movement we make. Age and injury reduce proprioception over time, and balance training is a good way to sharpen those skills. A strong awareness of where your body is in relation to the things around you, coupled with a good sense of balance, can help you react quickly and prevent injuries and accidents.
In addition to building balance skills, the actual execution of these exercises can reduce anxiety. Anxiety is reduced during the workout by encouraging participants to remain in the present moment. When you must focus on the movement to achieve balance, you can let the outside stressors go without a second thought.
Why we need it:
Balance training helps to improve equilibrium, joint stability, and muscular/neuromuscular ability. Taking the time to work on coordination forces your entire body to work together. This can translate into fewer falls and reduced injury. In fact, because balance training works to improve mind-body connection, it can reduce reaction time to a stumble. This can help to avoid an accident all together.
How often to see results?
Unlike strength training, in which you should be giving your body a rest in between, balance exercises can be done every day, or as often as you like. You can even combine balance, strength, and flexibility exercises together on some days. According to the American Heart Association, older adults at risk of falls should do balance training 3 or more days a week. In addition to doing standardized exercises from a program demonstrated to reduce falls.
At-Home Balance Workout
Sit & Lift:
With your feet planted shoulder-width apart on the floor, sit on the stability ball. Lift one leg at a time and extend it out, while raising your opposite arm.
Standing Stork Turn:
Standing on one foot, have the sole of your other foot anchored to your inner calf, similar to tree pose in yoga. Holding the stability ball parallel to the floor in front of you. Slowly raise it up over your head, and then bring the ball to your hip on the standing-leg side of your body. Reverse out of the pose and repeat. Be sure to switch and do a set on the other leg.
Standing on one leg, lift the other leg at a 45-degree angle. Bend from the waist, allowing the lifted leg to move toward the rear of your body, and lean forward to touch the ground with the medicine ball. Reverse out of the pose and repeat. Be sure to switch and do a set on the other leg.
Squat and Kick:
With both feet steady on top of the Terra Core, lower your bottom back and down into a squat position. Driving through your heels, and adjusting to steady yourself, slowly rise. If your balance is on- point, lift one leg (knee first, then followed by foot) into a front kick position. Reverse the action and return to a double feet stand on the Terra Core. Repeat on the other leg.
“Balance Exercise.” American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/balance-exercise. Accessed May 2020.
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Linda Shober is a Certified Fitness Instructor and burpee lover! She is NETA Certified, Les Mills BODYPUMP Certified, PiYO Live Certified, and SH1FT/L1FT Certified.