The Importance of Balance Exercises
Balance training is something that most of us don’t consider to be an important part of our exercise routine. However along with strength, endurance and flexibility, balance exercises should be included. And for good reason: Balance is control.
Think of toddlers learning to walk and the process they go through trying to gain the balance to be able to move freely. Once they learn to balance their body, they have control over their movements. The importance of balance doesn’t really change as we get older. Better body balance makes it easier to move and helps prevent injury. But it really is a “use it or lose it” kind of thing, which means it’s important to practice balance at all ages.
It’s important to note that you don’t need to do all your exercises every day, but variety does help keep the body fit and healthy, and makes exercise interesting. You can do a variety of exercises to keep the body fit and healthy and to keep your physical activity routine exciting. Many different types of exercises can improve strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. For example, practising yoga can improve your balance, strength, and flexibility. A lot of lower-body strength-training exercises also will improve your balance.
If you feel you that you have a severe balance problem then you should speak with us before trying any of these exercises.
How much do I need?
Balance exercises can be done every day, or as many days as you like and as often as you like. You can’t overdose on them, so do them as often as you like! Preferably, older adults at risk of falls should do balance training 3 or more days a week and do standardised exercises from a program demonstrated to reduce falls. It’s not known whether different combinations of type, amount, or frequency of activity can reduce falls to a greater degree.
Tai chi exercises also may help prevent falls. Balance, strength and flexibility exercises can be combined.
Try these balance exercises:
- See how long you can stand on one foot, or try holding for 10 seconds on each side.
- Walk heel to toe for 20 steps. Steady yourself with a wall if you need a little extra support.
- Walk normally in as straight a line as you can.
- If you find standing on one foot very challenging at first, try this progression to improve your balance:
- Hold on to a wall or sturdy chair with both hands to support yourself.
- Next, hold on with only one hand.
- Then support yourself with only one finger.
- When you are steady on your feet, try balancing with no support at all.
- Once you can stand on one foot easily for 30 seconds, you can try it on a folded up towel. This makes it more unstable underfoot, and will help to increase your balance and stability. If you are really keen, close your eyes!
Try to incorporate a few of these exercises into your routine. Also, try to find different ways to add them to your everyday activities. For example, brush your teeth while standing on one foot!