Aside from all its obvious benefits, did you know that exercise also helps to improve your body’s balance? We may not pay much attention to the balance and stability of our body, but it has a huge role to play in our overall functioning. Balance is essential for your fitness because it increases overall movement function. Any workout you do, requires some level of balance – even just to walk you need to have basic balancing abilities! Your core muscles deteriorate as you get older and investing in the right balance exercises could actually help build your core and improve your balance for now and more importantly for the long run.
Having bad body balance is pretty common and can tend to get worse with age, says Helen Bronte-Stewart, M.D., M.S., a movement disorders specialist at Stanford Medicine. There are a few ways to tell if you have a potential balance problem like if you have trouble putting on long pants when you have to balance on one leg, or if you can’t walk in a straight line and often bump into things.
The core is often referred to as the powerhouse of the body and is also the balance center. Maintaining a strong core allows you to control your body’s positioning and maintain an upright position. Your back and chest play a crucial role here. You need to exercise to challenge your center of gravity, which will, in turn, improve your balance.
Here are a few balance exercises you should practice daily to help strengthen your core and maintain a good body balance.
1. Sumo Squat with Outer Thigh Pulse
This strengthens your lower body and at the same time improves your balance.
To give yourself a bit of a challenge,t try holding a weight or a fitness ball with your arm without extending it.
- Stand and turn your feet out at 45 degrees.
- Bend your knees and hips to lower into a sumo squat. Keep your torso upright.
- As you stand, extend one leg and the opposite arm. Hold and pulse your leg up 2 to 3 inches three times.
- Put your leg back down to the starting position and repeat.
- Alternate sides for 12 reps.
2. Standing Crunch with Under-the-Leg Clap
Balancing your body on one leg is challenging in itself, add movement during a static hold with these claps, and your core will be on fire.
To give yourself a bit of a challenge – hold light to medium weights.
- Balance on one leg, with the other out in front of you, with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your hands together overhead.
- Crunch forward and clap your hands under the raised leg.
- Continue to clap above your head and under your raised leg 12 times. Repeat the steps on your other leg.
3. Curtsy Lunge with Oblique Crunch
This total-body movement engages the inner thigh, activates the glutes, and strengthens your obliques.
To give yourself a bit of a challenge – hold medium sized weights. To make it easier – do alternate sides.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, fingertips at your ears and elbows out wide.
- Cross one leg behind you and lower into a curtsy lunge.
- Without rotating your hips, stand and bring the same leg up to meet the same side elbow for an oblique crunch.
- Do 12 reps, and then switch legs.
4. Plank with Flying Plane Arms
With this exercise, your core strength and stability are really put to the test. To give yourself a bit of a challenge – bring your feet closer together. To make it easier – open your feet wider.
- Start with a high plank with your arms extended and hands directly under your shoulders.
- Keep your hips stable and core engaged as you lift one arm straight out in front of you.
- Keep holding this arm up and fan it out to the side.
- Return your hand to the front again, then lower it to the ground.
- Repeat this sequence on the opposite side. Continue doing alternate sides for 12 rounds.
5. Rolling Forearm Side Plank
The movement of rolling from one side of your body to the other really works out your balance.
To give yourself a bit of a challenge – lift your leg before rolling to the opposite side.
To make it easier – place your bottom knee on the ground.
- Start in a side forearm plank, and maintain your body weight on your forearm. Stack your feet on top of each other. Extend the top arm.
- Roll under your body to the opposite side, switching the arm on the ground with the one in the air.
- Hold on each side for a couple of seconds.
- Continue to roll from side to side 12 times.
6. Arm Sequence with Lifted Heels
If you stand in a narrow stance with your heels lifted, your center of gravity will be naturally unstable. By adding moving arms on top of that, your core strength and balance are further worked on.
To give yourself a bit of a challenge – choose heavier weights and bend your knees deeper.
To make it easier – lower your heels in between each arm movement.
- Stand with your feet together, with your knees pressing in toward each other and slightly bent, hold a pair of medium weight dumbbells with your arms and keep them relaxed on your sides.
- Lift your heels about two inches off the floor. Hold this posture as you do a biceps curl and shoulder press. With your arms extended, lower the weights back to the starting position.
- Keep your core engaged throughout the move to prevent arching your back.
- Repeat the sequence eight times.
7. T-Stand with Hinge and Side Bend
If you balance yourself on one leg while moving through various planes of motions, your core muscles strengthen, and your balance aligns.
To give yourself a bit of a challenge – keep your arms extended out to the sides and hold medium sized weights.
To make it easier – tap the raised leg to the floor in between the hinge and the side bend.
- Start by standing on your left leg with your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle, and hands extended out to the side.
- Hinge at your hips, tightening your core, and raise your right leg out behind you. As you do this, lower your torso and stretch your right hand to touch the inside of your left ankle.
- Return to start. Then stretch your right hand down to touch the outside of your right leg.
- Complete the sequence a few times on one side. Switch legs and repeat on the opposite side.
Try Out These Exercises
These balance exercises will help improve your stamina and build your core muscles. Staying active is one of the easiest ways to maintain a good body balance. Irrespective of your workout levels or goals, incorporating balancing exercises into your workouts or warm-up routines is ideal for a good fitness regimen.
One in three adults over the age of 65 have a severe fall each year. Avoiding falls at that age is absolutely crucial, and having an enhanced sense of stability will not only help protect you from future falls, it will have immediate health benefits for you as well: better mobility, fewer injuries, and a higher stamina during workouts. Balance is a separate system, and you can improve it if you continue to challenge it.