Are you well-balanced? Most of us don't consider the consequences of poor balance until we fall. One misstep is all it takes to impact your quality of life and independence. Luckily, there are easy exercises to help keep you on your feet and reduce the risk of fall-related injuries.
To sharpen your stability skills and improve your overall balance, perform this circuit for 10 minutes a day, three days a week.
Single-leg stand. It may not seem like it, but you spend a lot of your day on one leg. Daily activities like walking, running, and stair-climbing require a powerful core, strong stabilizer muscles such as those surrounding the hips, and total body control. One of the best ways to strengthen this skill is by, you guessed it, standing on one leg.
Stand near a wall for support. Take a deep breath, keep your shoulders back and core muscles engaged.
Slowly elevate your right leg so your knee is bent at about a 90-degree angle. Hold for 20 seconds. If at any point you feel unsteady, use the wall for balance or simply lower your leg. Repeat on opposite side.
Single-leg stand progression. Once you master the single-leg stand, increase the challenge by incorporating movement. By doing so, your muscles must work harder to control and balance your body.
Resume position 2 from above.
With your right leg elevated, bend at the waist touching your right hand to the outside of your right foot. Practice this 10 times then switch legs.
Plank. Powerful core muscles are the foundation of a balanced body. Planks are an effective exercise for isolating and targeting these muscles, as well as the key stabilizer muscles surrounding the hips, back, and glutes.
Start in a prone position with your hands resting below your shoulders and your toes curled underneath you.
Using your core and chest muscles, push through your palms, elevating your body into a high plank position. Your shoulders should be stacked over your wrists with a straight spine, neutral neck, and feet positioned about hip-width apart.
Carefully lift your right hand and extend your right arm out in front of your body. Hold for one count, then move your arm out to the side to form a 90-degree angle at your armpit. Hold for one count, refraining from rocking at the hips. Lower your right arm down to the starting stance and repeat on the left side. Alternate sides for a total of 10 arm lifts.
Grapevine. Foot-eye coordination is an important fitness factor when working to improve balance. Fancy footwork keeps your brain on its toes as it works with your muscles to keep your body properly aligned.
For beginners, stand near a wall for support. Keep your shoulders back and gaze forward as you step the left foot over the right, then step the right foot out.
Continue this step-over sequence for 10 counts, then return to the starting point by stepping the right foot over the left for 10 repetitions.
It takes only a few minutes to improve your strength and stability. Don't let your body's safety hang in the balance.
Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach with a focus on movement and mindfulness. To learn more, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.