Add Balance to Your Life With 4 Simple, but Challenging Exercises
Our bodies naturally decrease in balance and muscle tone as we get older; these exercises can help reverse that process.
Life can be a real balancing act. Balance can become an even bigger issue as we, let’s say, have birthdays. As we age, our bodies slow down in some fairly crucial ways. It takes more time to build muscle, yet it atrophies much faster. Our coordination takes a hit, as does our equilibrium and agility.
Before you get fretful for the future, there is great news. By staying active through your 30s, 40s and 50s, you can set yourself up to have fewer issues in your 60s, 70s and beyond.
“People definitely lose their sense of balance as they get older,” said Fitness expert Russell Streetman, who is based in Royal Oak. “It’s more than just the muscles; it’s neuromuscular and also what you have between your ears – your sense of equilibrium. If you don’t play sports that require a lot of coordination and agility, you can start to lose those.”
Losing that coordination is a big thing. It can increase your risk of falling, tripping, dropping things and just plain not feeling as sure on your feet as you once did. Just watch the children in the neighborhood playing tag. They stop, start, turn, twist – and they don’t fall down! Many of us would crumble under the same sort of speed and movement. They don’t because they still have that agility and neuromuscular control.
But fear not. There are some very simple exercises you can do in the privacy of your own home to help increase your balance. They require no special equipment and do not involve any sort of impact. If you are unsure of your ability to do these, make sure you have a stable object, such as a chair or table nearby to help you maintain your balance.
- Single leg balance squat: Standing tall, slightly raise your left foot off the ground and move it behind you a bit. Slightly bend your right leg so that you are in a modified sitting position and hold for 5-10 seconds. Stand up straight and repeat 3-5 times. Then switch to your right leg.
- Single leg dead lift: Follow the same process as in the first exercise, except this time when you lift your left leg, slightly bend your right leg and lean forward, allowing your left foot to lift behind you. Extend your arms down toward the ground, then bring them back up, raising up your body to a standing position at the same time. This will bring your left leg back to its starting position on the floor. Repeat this 3-5 times, then switch to your right leg.
- Single leg hip extension: Using the same technique, this time lift your left foot and extend your left leg out in front of you, lifting it as high as you can without bending that leg. Allow your right leg to bend as far as possible, while still keeping your upper body erect. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 3-5 times, then switch to lifting your right leg.
- Single leg hip flexion: This time, lift your left foot off the ground and tip forward with your body so that it is parallel to the ground. Extend both arms out in front of you, creating length from the tips of your fingers to the toes on your left foot. Hold 5-10 seconds or longer, if you can; return to your starting position and repeat 3-5 times. Then switch to the other side.
By doing these exercises every other day, you will give yourself a chance to live a happy and balanced life.