If it’s been awhile since you’ve been at the gym, the fitness toys might look weird to you. There’s the Bosu (half of a stability ball with a black plastic bottom), balance pad, balance disc, a balance log (a foam roller cut in half), and of course the stability ball. All these fitness toys in the corner of the gym are used for balance training.
Balance training is a type of exercise that is designed to help improve balance and the sensation of knowing where your body and its joints are in space. Without balance, simple tasks as walking or riding in an elevator — or even getting out of your seat — could be very difficult. I’ve pretty much mastered getting out of my seat, you might say. Do I really need balance training?
You don’t need to be over the age of 65 to start working on balance, and you don’t have to be an elite athlete either. The exercises can be done anywhere, with none of that fancy fitness equipment you see at the gym. Balance training is beneficial for everyone — at all ages and fitness levels. Here are just some of the things it does for your body:
- Helps improve the communication between your brain and muscles (coordination and agility)
- Improves the stabilization of your joints when in motion
- Improves strength
- Burns more calories during exercise because your body is working harder to stabilize itself
- Helps improve posture by forcing you to be more mindful of your body’s position
- Helps improve sports performance
- Helps reduce risk of falling
- Helps your body become more efficient (ensures that energy is not wasted in effective movements) and more flexible
Warmer weather is right around the corner (hopefully). And that weather brings outdoor activities that everyone enjoys. Some of my favorites are running, biking, kayaking, races, stand-up paddle boarding, and even just walking my dogs around the park. All the activities I mentioned require balance, even the walking — especially when you have to bend down to clean up after your pet.
Get ready for fun in the sun with these balance exercises:
1. and 2. Single leg balance and Single-leg hip internal and external rotation
3. Single-leg woodchoppers
4. Single-leg squat toe touches
5. Lunge to balance
Once you have mastered those, you can challenge yourself even more by adding balance training to normal exercises:
- Single leg bicep curls
- Single leg shoulder press
- Single leg lateral raises