Balance is everything. We humans spend our entire lives searching for balance, whether it's eating a balanced meal, balancing our checkbooks, or finding balance in how we spend our time. It just so happens that one of the most overlooked and arguably one of most important keys to health is balance. To have a truly functional body we must have balance. As we age it's imperative that we are working to improve our ability to balance.
Think about a toddler before learning how to walk. Most of the time spent prior to learning to walk is finding the balance point. It is only after gaining control of their movements - finding the balance point - that the toddler is able to put one foot in front of the other. Just as it is important for the toddler to maintain a certain level of balance, it is equally important that we as humans continue to work at building a body that can maintain balance for a lifetime.
The strength, control, and agility that comes from improved balance assists us in our daily lives more than we know. Whether it's athletics, playing with the dog, chasing down an Uber, or simply walking up a flight of stairs balance is essential. A good sense of balance and a strong awareness of one's body in relation to one's surroundings aid in reaction time reducing the risk of injury.
As a trainer I have often found that many people are not even aware that their balance is diminishing. A loss of balance can truly sneak up on people as we age.
I want to challenge you to try these simple balance exercises today!
1. See how long you can stand on one foot. A good goal would be 30-45 seconds.
2. Try walking on your tip-toes. Next time you find your self checking the mail give it a go!
3. Cross your legs while standing in one place. Try this for 60 seconds. To make it even harder try standing on the tip of your toes.
4. Walking heel-to-toe in as straight a line as possible.
5. Can you complete 5-10 walking lunges per leg.
5. How long you can hold a plank? Aim for between 45-60 seconds.
Core strength and balance go hand in hand. To build a strong core resulting in a healthy level of balance incorporate ground based exercises like variations of lunges, squats and deadlifts. After all we live on our feet! Don't be scared thinking these are exercises for massive weight lifters. These are movements that we all do in regular life and can be modified for anyone.
Give the challenges above a shot. If you notice a deterioration in your balance now is the time to address the issue! If you can begin an exercise program on your own, great! If not, a personal trainer even for a short period of time can make a big difference. Your quality of life and independence is worth it! Go find your balance!