Balance Training for All Ages
Many exercise routines focus on just one or two types of physical activity. You may do cardio to target endurance, weight training to target strength, or stretching to target flexibility. All of these are important, but many people would also benefit from dedicating part of their usual routine to the fourth type of exercise: balance.
Balance is just like any other aspect of physical fitness: if you don’t actively maintain it, you’ll eventually lose it. Poor balance can increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Athletes need a strong sense of balance for sports performance, and they often go through physical therapy to specifically address their balance after experiencing injuries. Good balance is also important for our everyday activities, like walking and taking the stairs.
Lower body strength training, yoga, tai chi and some other forms of exercise contribute to your balance while also working on your flexibility, strength, and endurance at the same time. Fueling your body with nutritious foods and sleeping enough are also crucial to staying stable on your feet, so don’t neglect any aspect of your wellbeing!
Here are two exercises for better balance that can be done wherever you have the space to move safely. Talk to your healthcare provider before performing these exercises if you have specific health concerns or existing injuries.
Single Foot Stand
- Hold onto a sturdy chair or desk. Stand on one foot with your other leg raised off the floor.
- Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat on the other foot.
* Increase the challenge: Hold onto the chair with just one hand, just one finger, or not at all. Or, close your eyes.
- While standing, put one foot directly in front of the other so that the toes of one foot touch the heel of the other foot. Hold onto a wall with one hand if you need extra support.
- Focus your eyes on a single point ahead of you.
- Take a step, putting your heel just in front of the toes of your other foot, like you’re walking on a tightrope.
- Repeat for 10-20 steps.
* Increase the challenge: After stepping forward, go back to where you started by heel-to-toe walking backwards.