Taking for granted your sense of balance? For many adults, being able to walk and stand upright and complete a full range of motion without falling over seems utterly commonplace. At its core, however, balance is anything but simple.
Balance is the result of an intricate networking of the eyes, inner ear, muscles, bones, and brain. As your eyes take in your surroundings and convey your place in time and space to your brain, nerve fibers in your inner ear help maintain your uprightness, all while your bones and muscles send signals back to your brain.
Refining and strengthening your balance in your early to mid-life adult years plays an important role in helping prevent mobility issues and debilitating falls later in life. Looking for easy balance exercises you can do at home? Don’t miss these top 8:
Use a Balance Disk
Hop on a balance disk, or wobble cushion as they’re also known, and practice balancing on a not so steady surface. Balance cushions are inflatable rubber disks that wobble slightly when you stand on them, helping your muscles correct, adjust, and strengthen to hone your balance.
Stand on One Leg
Washing dishes? Working at your standing desk? Brushing your teeth? Try doing your everyday standing chores and tasks while utilizing only one leg. Not only does this strengthen leg muscles and bones, but it gives your sense of balance a workout as well.
Try Yoga (or Tai Chi)
Combine stress-relieving deep breathing and meditation techniques with stretches and postures that sharpen your sense of balance. Yoga practice and tai chi have both been shown to reinforce strong balance and coordination skills as well as enhance flexibility and reduce stress.
Practice Walking OFIFOTO
OFIFOTO, or walking ‘one foot in the front of the other’, indicates a heel toe walking pattern that makes for great balance exercise. Think about how a police officer might ask a suspected drunk driver to walk a line – do this with your hands at your side or on your hips.
Walk the Curb
Taking your daily walk around the neighborhood? Spend some time trekking the curb. The average 4 to 8 inches of curb surface on the side of the road offers somewhat of a safe “balance beam” for you to practice walking and balancing without falling off.
Do Some Squats
Standing and balancing is one thing, squatting and staying balanced is another. With your legs shoulder width apart and your spine straight and lengthened, bend at the knees and squat down as far as you can without sticking your rear end out.
Sit on an Exercise Ball
Take your sedentary activities to a healthier level by incorporating balance techniques. Stability balls, or large inflatable rubber exercise balls, make for great ‘chairs’ for activities like watching TV, playing video games, or working on your computer.
Bend and Balance
Picking up around the house? When you bend over to pick something up off the floor or a table or counter, use one leg instead of two. Overtime, lift your free foot higher and higher up in the air behind you to really test your coordination and balance.
Absolutely crucial to your sense of balance is understanding and having a strong center of gravity. Not only can balance exercises help, but regular physical fitness that helps you maintain a healthy weight can keep your center of gravity stable as well. For people who are overweight and especially carry extra weight around their midsection, the center of gravity can actually move forward making it harder and harder over time to nail really strong balance and coordination skills.