Step By Step: How to Improve Your Balance
Approximately 15 percent of adults in the U.S. struggle with some kind of balance issue.
There are a variety of health problems that can contribute to these issues, from blood pressure and inner ear conditions to musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis and general muscle weakness.
If you suffer from balance problems — or if you just want to avoid them in the future — it's a good idea to start working on improving your balance now.
Not sure where to begin? Read on for some simple but effective tips that will help you learn how to improve your balance.
Why Does Balance Matter?
If you have good balance, you'll be less likely to fall (and experience injuries from those falls) as you get older.
There are lots of other health benefits that come from regular balance training, though, including the following:
- Improved posture
- Increased agility
- Increased strength
- Better coordination
- Increased body awareness
- Reduced back and joint pain
If any of these health benefits appeal to you, it's definitely time to make balance training a priority.
How to Improve Your Balance
Where does one start when it comes to balance training? How can you work on your balance without compromising your safety?
There are lots of different exercises and techniques you can use to improve your balance that are safe and effective, including the following:
Stand on One Foot
One of the easiest ways to start working on your balance is to lift one foot off the ground and try to stay upright.
If it's been a while since you've tested your balance in this way, it's best to do it while standing next to a chair or a wall for extra support. See how long you can hold this position without wobbling.
Over time, work on adding more time to your balancing position, or move away from your support object to give yourself an additional challenge.
Close Your Eyes
Once you've mastered standing on one foot, you can up the ante a bit more by closing your eyes while you do it. This simple change can make it much more difficult for you to maintain your balance (definitely stand by a wall or chair the first time you try it).
If you can stay upright and centered without the help of your vision, your overall balance will improve quite a bit. You'll also feel more confident going about your day-to-day life, even in situations when your vision isn't great (such as when you have to get up in the night).
Stand on a Balance Board
Another option for challenging your balance is to use a balance board or balance disc.
Standing on these tools requires more engagement of your core muscles in order for you to stay upright and avoid falling off or tilting to one side.
Start by standing up straight on the board or disc with both feet. Later, you can progress to standing on one foot or doing exercises like calf raises or squats on it.
Take Up Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a great form of exercise for older adults and anyone who wants to work on slowing down and improving their balance.
The exercises performed during a typical Tai Chi class help to strengthen your core and improve your ankle strength and stability.
Because the movements are performed in a slow and controlled way, there's also less of a risk of injury involved.
Get Your Om On
If Tai Chi isn't for you, you might want to try yoga instead.
Performing yoga poses will also help to strengthen your core, improve your posture, and improve your stability.
If you've never done yoga before, it's best to start with a class geared toward beginners so you can avoid injury.
For those who want to work on their balance but want to do something a bit faster paced, pilates is a good alternative.
Pilates exercises require a lot of core engagement, so they're perfect for improving balance and stability.
They're also a bit more engaging that Tai Chi exercises and yoga poses, but they still yield similar benefits.
Walk This Way
Have you ever paid attention to the way your legs and feet move when you walk?
If you don't want to take an exercise class but still want to improve your balance, try slowing down and walking in a more deliberate way.
Exercising care while putting one foot in front of the other will help you improve your body awareness and, in turn, improve your ability to stay balanced.
Strengthen Your Lower Body
A strong core is important for maintaining balance. Don't forget about strengthening your lower body, too, though.
Strong ankles, calves, quads, and hip muscles can all contribute to better balance.
Add exercises like squats and calf raises into your exercise routine to strengthen these muscles. You don't need any equipment to do them, and you can hold onto a wall for support when you're first getting started.
Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that insufficient sleep has the potential to impair your balance and slow your reaction times?
If you often worry about losing your balance and falling, you can reduce your risk quite a bit by making sure you're getting enough quality sleep at night.
This isn't a replacement for the other balance-improving tips listed above, of course. It can help to make them more effective, though.
Getting adequate rest each night will also help you avoid many of the other health issues to which poor sleep is linked.
Improve Your Balance Today
As you can see, it's imperative that you start working on your balance if you want to live a long life and age safely.
If you have no idea where to begin, keep these tips on how to improve your balance in mind.
Add them to your regular exercise routine so you can start strengthening your muscles, enhancing your spatial awareness, and minimizing your risk of falls and other injuries.
Do you want to purchase some tools to help with your balance training?
If so, we've got a whole collection of products available on our site. Head to our online store to check them out or place an order!