10 Reasons to Practice Balance Daily, Especially as You Age
Balance is a fundamental aspect to add to your daily routine, especially as you get older. The better your balance is, the better you will stay on your feet! When you think about it, you need balance every day to undertake activity of daily living (ADL) such as walking, standing up from a chair, and leaning over to tie your shoes.
In every class that I teach, even Pilates, I always incorporate balance exercises. We all need it; from beginners to advanced trainees, and from athletes to not-so-young. When I workout at the gym, I will be on 1 leg and do a shoulder press or I will be standing on a Bosu Ball, again on 1 leg, and focus on another exercise.
So often, I see guys with big muscles but with terrible balance! The problem is they focus so much on developing their muscles on benches that they forget to work on the importance of adding balance exercises to their program. When I have male personal training clients, balance is one of the fitness aspects I will evaluate and often add to their fitness program.
When was the last time you had a fall? Have you had one since the beginning of this year? Each year, 1 out of 3 Canadians, 65 years of age and older, will experience a significant fall. Falls are also one of the leading causes of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors.
If you practice balance exercise regularly, it will also help you to:
- Gain stronger core stability.
- Improve proprioception (the ability for the body to know where its limbs are in space).
- Improve quality of life.
- Improve over-all fitness and performance. Experts say that people can jump higher, walk and run quicker.
- Reduce risk of falls and injuries such as hip fracture and head trauma.
- Improve coordination. When a balance exercise is added with balance, more muscle fibers are recruited to create a control movement.
- Get stronger joints. Balancing on 1 leg helps to get stronger at the ankle, knee, hip, lower back, shoulder, and neck.
- To Improve reaction time. When I work with older adults, I focus on keeping or improving their reaction time. If someone loses its balance, their first reaction should be to recuperate from falling by putting a foot down quickly.
- To build better posture. When you practice balance, your body must adjust to the gravity force by using core strength, contracting and relaxing muscles to stay nice and tall.
- To improve or maintain your confidence. If you have good balance, you will be more active and will stay independent longer. Your confidence will glow by the way you walk.
Here are more exercises you can do to improve your balance other than just standing on 1 leg. You can also:
- Practice Tai Chi.
- Dance. Get 60-minutes Zumba video here.
- Walk from heel to toe.
- Walk backwards.
- Practice yoga. Use my videos here.
- Shift your weight from 1 leg to the other.
- While standing on 1 leg, with the other foot, spell the alphabet.
- Stand on 1 leg while you are behind the counter or brushing your teeth.
- Use equipment such as a Bosu ball.
Recently, I have been working with a frail 86 years old man. When I have met John, he was using a walker. After a few weeks of strengthening and balance exercises, he was forgetting to use his walker! He now walks without any aids. What did I do with John? I helped him with exercises, which stretched his lower leg muscles (soleus and gastrocnemius) to improve his ability to lift his toes when walking. I also gave him some balance exercises and focused on routines that improved his leg strength. You should see him now; he walks much better and with confidence. Watch his testimonial video here.
If you want to start practicing your balance today, here are a few exercises to give a try.