Balance training is important for people of all ages engaged in various exercises and athletics, but it is especially important for baby boomers and older adults. Why? These exercises can help people strengthen their core muscles and be stable in any situations. Experts agree that balance exercises are important for preventing against falls.
Basic balance exercises
Here are some exercises that healthy adults can include in their daily fitness routine or a few times a week to improve balance:
- Weight shifts: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Shift your weight to one side and slowly lift the opposite leg off of the floor. Hold for up to 30 seconds, before returning to the starting position and shifting your weight to the other leg. This one is fairly easy and is a good starting point to gage your balance.
- Heel-to-toe walking: Start with putting the heel of one foot just in front of – or slightly touching – the toes of the other foot. Walk this way in a straight line for 20 steps, keeping your heels and toes aligned as you walk. Put your arms out for balance if necessary.
- Back leg raises: Stand behind a solid chair and hold it for balance. Lift one leg straight behind you without bending your knees or leaning forward on the chair. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower your leg. Repeat this 10 to 15 times and then switch to the other leg.
- Single-leg balance: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. Lift your right leg off the floor and bend it back slightly at the knee. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then do the same for the left leg. Do 10 repetitions. Vary this exercise by reaching your foot out in front of you as far as you can without touching the floor, and hold for up to 30 seconds.
Advanced balance exercises
Once you’ve mastered the basic balance exercises, you can move on to more difficult exercises that incorporate strength training. For these, you’ll need one three- to ten-pound hand weight, depending on your current strength.
- Bicpes curls + balance: With your feet hip-width apart, hold the weight in your right hand with your palm facing up. Lift your left leg off the floor and bend it back at the knee. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side, and do up to 10 repetitions. You can add difficulty by lifting the same leg that is holding the weight.
- Shoulder press + balance: With your feet hip-width apart, hold the weight in one hand and press your arm upward so your forearm is perpendicular with the floor. Lift the opposite leg and bend it back at the knee. Hold for up to 30 seconds, and then switch sides. Like the biceps curls, you can add difficulty by lifting the leg and weights on the same side.
Always check with your doctor before doing a balance routine. Have a sturdy chair nearby during all exercises so you have easy access to support if necessary.