As one ages you start to get a respect for how important balance and flexibility is for overall health. Younger adults usually don’t worry about it because their body is so resilient, it just isn’t a priority. But as you age, your muscles seem to become tighter, and you are not as agile as before due to loss of speed and quickness.
Did you know however, that you can change that? While stretching is always taught to be a great way to warm up before you start exercising, balance exercises are almost always neglected. This is why seniors, and even juniors alike, can slip, trip or fall.
It is far wiser to start incorporating balancing exercises in your routine now rather than later due to an accident or injury.
To me, balance is doing things in a three dimensional plane rather than two dimensional. Doing an exercise on gym equipment machines is an example of doing two dimensional training. The machine itself dictates the path the muscles will take with little to no deviation. This completely removes important stabilizing muscles and fibers out of the equation. Those that help with balance.
When you perform exercises with free weights, you are now incorporating a little bit more of three dimensional training since there is nothing guiding the path of the exercise but you are still not quite there.
In order to maximize the use of balancing muscles, you must do just that, balance! This is why simple exercises such as standing on one leg and lifting the other for a set period of time are quick and easy ways to start adding balance in your life.
Even doing something as simple as closing your eyes while performing a free weight exercise kicks in balancing muscles since loss of sight eliminates a reference point that your body normally zeroes in on when performing the lift. This loss of reference forces your body to work a little harder to maintain balance.
This is one reason why I love the TRX Suspension bands. They work every part of the body in a three dimensional plane. But there are other exercises that help in balance and flexibility. Tibetan Morning Rituals are a perfect example of starting out the day fresh and only takes a few minutes.
One of my favorite balancing moves involves using an inverted Bosu ball and nothing else. Beginners can start by placing both feet on the inverted ball and try doing squats. You will see how badly you need to work your balancing muscles because most people will fall off or become greatly unstable when they reach the half squat position.
The key is to keep your balance. When starting, once your legs start to shake as you go down, stop and hold that position. This will force your stabilizing muscles and fibers to work extra hard to maintain balance. Gradually you will get to the point where you can perform full squats without a problem.
Once you have reached that level, next try doing the exact same exercise with your hands raised straight up overhead. This takes your arms out of the equation in balancing your body which makes those same balancing muscles and fibers work even harder. Once you have mastered that, next try doing it with your eyes closed.
After you can perform them with eyes closed and hands overhead, you are now ready to start doing them with one leg! This is not an audition for Cirque du Soleil! The video below depicts doing just that. All it takes is just once a week, several sets to create and maintain an incredible sense of balance.
Other fun balancing exercises is roller blading, paddle boarding, even riding a bike! So put some balance in your life and get….Fit Forlife!