If you are working on your physical fitness, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about your strength. But do you ever give much thought to your balance? Believe it or not, balance is an equally important aspect of your health, and you should take steps to work on it with each workout. This is because your balance is a “use it or lose it” quality; if you are not working on your balance now, you are not going to make any improvements when you really need it as a senior to prevent falls. Both today and in the future, good balance helps you move in a more controlled motion, which improves your athletic performance and reduces your risk of injury. Fortunately, there are ways you can better your balance, starting today.
Balance on One Leg
This is a simple exercise that you can do anywhere; try it while you’re doing the dishes or watching TV. Stand on one leg for thirty seconds, then switch and balance on the other. For more of a challenge, try it on an unstable surface like a pillow. For even more of a challenge, close your eyes while you do it. Practice this three to five times a week.
Try Walking Heel to Toe
You may recognize this as a sobriety field test given to suspected drunk drivers, but it is also a great way to improve your balance. Walk in a straight line, heel to toe, for 20 steps. Then, repeat the same exercise backwards.
Don’t Skip Squat
Squats aren’t just great for booty gains; they also help your quad strength, making your knees more stable. Incorporate a simple squad into your exercise routine. Stand with your feet hips-width apart, then bend your knees and slowly lower your rear like you are sitting back in a chair. Make sure to keep your back straight and your core engaged. Stop when your thighs are as close to parallel to the floor as you can get, then stand back up and contract your glutes. Do three sets of ten, resting for one minute between each set.
Try Tai Chi or Yoga
Research shows that the ancient Chinese martial art of tai chi may improve stability. One study of seniors who practice tai chi were in the 90th percentile in measures of stability from the American Fitness Standards. If tai chi is not your cup of tea, yoga has also shown balance-improving properties. One study out of Temple University of women older than 65 who attended yoga classes twice weekly had more flexible ankles and were more confident walking than the women in the control group who didn’t do yoga.
Lack of sleep is directly related to slow reaction time, which impacts your balance. Therefore, you want to make sure you are getting enough sleep. Make sure you are getting more than seven hours of sleep a night.
At Fit in New England, we have a great facility where you can work on your balance. If you are looking for a gym in Medford, contact us today!