So much of life is about balance. Sure, that could be the beginning of a Zen article but the sentiment also holds true for physical and functional fitness. Every step you take requires you to perform subtle movements that are empowered and enhanced by a sense of balance. You may be dashing across the street before the light changes. It could be about reaching up to the highest shelf in the supermarket. Carrying a basket of laundry up a flight of stairs is another overlooked example. Whatever your daily life is like, you can move through it more safely and smoothly when your body is in balance.
Maintaining stability is fundamental self-care. If you don’t work on your balance, you will lose it— especially as you age. A sedentary lifestyle doesn’t help either. The good news, however, is that effective balance training doesn’t have to look like a circus high-wire act. For example, you might start by simply standing on one foot while doing the dishes (if that feels safe for you).
Of course, there are some very specific methods you can employ on a daily basis. The suggestions described below are easy and very adaptable to each person’s fitness level.
Note: For the first two options, practice by holding onto something with both hands. Over time, this can be switched to one hand and, eventually, no hands.
3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Balance
Basic Balance (Beginner)
Stand with your feet as close together as possible. That’s it. Since your balance is more stable with a wider stance, this may be enough of a challenge for some of you. And that’s fine. Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. Rest and repeat. If this feels okay, try closing your eyes to test your balance a little more.
One Leg at a Time (Intermediate)
Once again, start by standing with your feet as close together as possible. Next, lift your right foot off the ground by raising your right knee up to waist height. Hold for 20 seconds and lower that foot back to the floor. Switch legs. If you feel up to a greater challenge, you can also try this with your eyes closed. Reminder: Hold onto something until you become comfortable with this position.
One-Leg Curls (Advanced)
You’ll employ the same starting position as #1 and #2, only this time, you’ll be holding dumbbells — one in each hand, hanging at your sides, palms facing forward. The weight of the dumbbells is up to you but this not some kind of power movement. Most people will use somewhere between 2-pound to 10-pound weights, at most.
Lift your right foot off the ground by raising your right knee up to waist height. While holding that leg up, maintain your balance as you perform a set of bicep curls. To do so, you lift the dumbbells up by bending your arms at the elbows and keeping those elbows tight to your body. Slowly return the weights to the starting point and repeat until you’ve done 10 curls. Return your right foot to the ground, lift your left foot up, and do another 10 curls. This movement will improve your balance while toning your arms.
Note: The exercise advice presented above is not meant for anyone with contraindicated health problems. Please consult a medical or fitness professional.