There are many reasons to exercise: building muscle, increasing metabolism, improving energy, and feeling better are probably all on your list. But how about improving your balance? Though it may not be the first thing you think of, good balance is one of the hidden gems that you receive from regular workouts. Things that might seem second nature to you like a stationary lunge or side plank actually require balance and stability that many people who don’t exercise are unable to do. Improving balance is important for your overall fitness and everyday activities, but it is even more important to focus on as you age.
The Importance of Good Balance
Balance is one of those things where you might not realize the importance of it until you start to lose it. And for most of us, this loss comes with old age. For some seniors poor balance and falling can stem from medical issues that they have no control of. But for a good majority of these folks, it is simply a matter of losing strength and the natural ability to move the way you did when you were younger because you simply don’t do it anymore. And in case you don’t think you need to take it all that seriously, consider that falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older. And it only takes one fall to take you off your feet for weeks or months or possibly remove your independence completely.
Now before you get too bummed, let’s set the record straight about poor balance as you age: it does NOT just come with the territory. You do not have to accept it as a given. According to the National Counsel on Aging falling is NOT an inevitable result of aging. That’s right – you can do your part now to help prevent falling later.
Think of it this way: just like you shouldn’t wait until you are 65 to start thinking about saving money for retirement, you also shouldn’t wait until you are older to prepare your body for the strength and balance you will need to stay independent and strong for as long as possible! Nobody wants to depend on others for help with daily activities.
The good news is that there are countless ways to improve your balance. Some things are super simple that you can incorporate into your every day life:
Simple Ways To Improve Balance:
- Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth
- Sit on an exercise ball at your desk instead of a chair
- Squat one inch over the toilet seat rather than sitting (for short trips)
- Walk with a book on your head. (Old school but effective!)
- Take yoga classes!
- Stand still with your eyes closed. Pick up a foot, count to 10 then switch.
Improving balance can start with those simple every day tips and move into all-out workouts that zero in on core and stability training. That’s what we have for you here! Below are two workouts designed to help you improve your balance and work on good stability. If you are a fitness warrior who likes to work up a good sweat you’ll definitely want the first challenge: Bosu Balance Body Blast. In this workout, you’ll receive cardio, strength, core and balance all together! If you are looking strictly for core and balance without all the other “workout stuff”, then stick with workout number two: Basic Balance Challenge Workout. This is a series of stationary poses and some core strength exercises, all designed to give you the foundation of strength and balance that will last! Got 15 minutes? You can do this workout!
Bosu Balance Body Blast
This workout will get you sweating, make you stronger and improve your balance using a BOSU as your tool for success! Follow the directions for each exercise below remembering that sometimes you work with the flat side of the BOSU up and sometimes it is down. The exercises are placed in pairs so you’ll do two in a row with no break in between and repeat that pair before moving on to the next pair.
Note: If you have not worked out on the BOSU before, read our tips for the bosu following this workout!
Bosu Walk: (Flat side down) 1 minute
Begin by walking up and down the Bosu, alternating right and left.
Bosu Run: (Flat side down) 30 seconds
Move faster up and down.
Bosu Squat: (Flat side down) 1 minute
Sit back on your heels as you squat and get deep.
Bosu Hop: (Flat side down) 30 seconds
Move directly from your squat to a little hop up and down.
Bosu Push-Up: (Flat side up) 1 minute
Hold the edges of the flat side of the Bosu and do push ups on your knees or toes or a combo of the two. Lower your chest right to the center of the Bosu.
Bosu Jump Switch: (Flat side up) 30 seconds
Go directly from push-ups to a side-to-side switch with your feet. Hold the edges the same as the push up, bring right foot to right hand, then jump switch left foot to left hand. If you don’t want to jump switch, alternate feet right and left low impact.
Bosu Forward Lunge: (Flat Side down) 1 minute
Stand a few feet behind the BOSU and lunge right foot forward aiming for the center of the dome, bending the back knee as your front foot hits. Press back from the right foot and lunge left. Alternate for one minute.
Bosu Split Lunges: (Flat Side down) 30 seconds
Yes, a split jump on the Bosu. Start in a lunge position with right foot on top and back foot on the ground. Jump switch feet for 30 seconds.
Bosu Dead Bug: (flat side down) 30 seconds
This is harder than it looks. Place your back near the center of the ball, and hug your knees in your chest. Slowly let go of legs and reach arms to the side. If you are still stable, open legs a bit and move feet farther away as you are able. Try to hold and press your back into the ball of the BOSU.
Bosu Bird Dog: (flat side down) 30 seconds each side
Place right knee on the ball side, extending left leg behind you and right arm in front. Hold 30 seconds then switch arms and legs and hold again.
Tips For The BOSU Ball:
1. Keep your abs tight and proper spinal alignment at all times. Your balance will be challenged and you’ll wobble so stay strong in the core and don’t slump.
2. Whenever standing on the Bosu (squats, etc) keep feet hip-width apart. If you feel insecure, stand near a wall where you can hold on if needed.
3. Don’t jump if you feel insecure or are struggling.
4. Don’t use weights until you practice bodyweight exercises first. This workout is all bodyweight for that reason. Once you get the hang of it, there are tons of moves you can do with the weights for something different!
Basic Balance Challenge Workout
This balance workout is created from several balance poses and core strength exercises that help create strength and stability in your body. Perform each exercise as noted.
Stiletto Squat – 15 slow repetitions
Bird Dog – 16 Alternating right and left
Warrior 3 – Hold 30 seconds on right leg and 30 seconds on left.
Side Plank with Leg Lift – Hold 30 seconds right side, 30 seconds left.
Tripod – Hold up to 30 seconds.
Hand to Big Toe Hold – Hold 30 seconds right foot, 30 seconds left.
Dancer Pose – Hold 30 seconds right leg, 30 seconds left.
Tree Pose With Branches – Hold 30 seconds right leg, 30 seconds left.
Balancing Half Moon – Hold 30 seconds right side, 30 seconds left.
Stiletto Squat – Try to do 10-12 squats.
Single Leg Bridge – 12 Repetitions right side, 12 reps left.
Forearm Plank – Hold for 30 seconds. Place knee on the ground if needed!