If you make time in your schedule for a regular fitness routine, you’re already doing a lot of very important things right. Perhaps you’ve even embraced a workout schedule that combines heart-pumping cardiovascular activity with muscle-building strength training. But even so, is your fitness routine as “balanced” as it could be?
You’ll have to forgive us for the above pun, but the one key component to a well-rounded fitness routine that you may be missing is—you guessed it—balance training.
Unless you’ve suffered a fall or make frequent use of a balance beam, maintaining your balance is probably something you rarely think about. But your body is constantly relying on balance with every step you take, every time you stand up from a chair, each time you climb a flight of stairs and even every time you turn your head.
What does it actually mean to be “well-balanced”?
Your balance is a combination of three different functions of your body: your vision, your muscles and joints and your vestibular system, located in the inner ear. This means that each time you maintain your balance, it’s due to a joint effort from your eyes monitoring your movement, your musculoskeletal system sensing how your body needs to navigate a certain space and the structures of your vestibular system communicating all of this information with your brain.
Seems fairly complicated, right? Luckily, our bodies are trained to handle small balance challenges—like a taking a step, which briefly requires standing on one foot—without requiring a great deal of focus. However, with increased distractions (like texting and walking) improving your balance should be an even bigger priority. Enhanced balance helps prevent falls, improves posture and can help prevent athletic injuries.
How can you work on improving your balance? Here are five ways to add balance exercises into your regular fitness routine.
Take up yoga or tai chi
Both practices are known for improving balance and can be a great complement to your usual cardio and strength training routine. If you don’t have the means or accessibility to sign up for a class, try watching YouTube videos or downloading an app to learn new poses.
Focus on core
A stable core is crucial to good balance, so consider adding a few of these core exercises to your strength training routine and focus on engaging your core muscles throughout the day—whether you’re sitting, standing or even during your favorite cardio activity.
Try a Bosu Balance Trainer
You may have seen Bosu Trainers at your gym before and wondered what purpose they served. The vinyl half-dome adds an extra challenge to your workout by forcing you to focus on stability and balance. Check out this list of exercises to get ideas for how to incorporate a Bosu trainer into your routine.
Stand on one leg
It might seem rudimentary, but practicing standing on one leg can help you improve your overall balance. Keep a chair or other stabilizing surface nearby to prevent injuries and kick it up a notch by trying one-legged squats.
Walk the line
Practice walking heel-to-toe while engaging your core muscles to test and improve your balance. You can even put a strip of tape down on the floor to give yourself a visual marker.
Adding balance training to your fitness routine is a great way to improve your daily safety and get a truly “complete” workout. Try some of the above exercises today and let us know in the comments below how they work.
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