As we grow older, one of the most common physical skills that deteriorates is our balance. We become unsteady, partially as a result of muscular weakness or imbalances. This loss of balance can be prevented by a few basic exercises and a regular workout schedule. Perform these simple exercises and maintain your balance skills for a lifetime. Here are the five best exercises to improve balance:
1. Single Leg Balance
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and place your hands on your hips. Stabilize your core and lift one leg off the ground and hold it right beside the balanced leg and squeeze your buttocks. Keep your hips level and hold for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat with other leg. If this is too difficult, support yourself by holding onto a chair.
2. One Legged Alternating Stands
This is an effective exercise you can do at home while looking in the mirror. Stand alternatively on one leg and then the other. Balance for 20-30 seconds on each leg. To add difficulty and additional challenge, pick up and set down a small hand weight while balancing on one leg. 20-30 seconds on each leg, and steadily increase the time as your balance improves.
3. Single Leg Balance Reach
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, place hands on hips. Lift one leg off the ground and and hold it beside the balanced leg, squeeze your buttocks throughout the exercise. Keep your hips level and reach your leg to the front and hold for 5 seconds. Return leg back to start and reach to the side and hold for 5 seconds. Return your leg back to the start and reach your leg behind your body and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. If reaching to the front is difficult, work on that before moving to the side or back.
4. Single Leg Hip Rotation
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and place hands on hips. Lift one leg off the ground and hold it right beside the balanced leg. Squeeze your buttocks throughout the exercise. While keeping your hips level, rotate at the hips to the side opposite of the balanced leg and hold for 5 seconds. Return back to start and repeat with other leg. Sequence is balance, twist, balance, twist.
5. Standing On Your Toes
Stand on your toes and balance for as long as you can. While easier than one legged stands, toe stands are effective, particularly with those who are struggling with balance. This exercise also helps strengthen your calf muscles, which are important for balance and overall mobility as well.
Perform each exercise a 2-3 days per week, you will notice significant improvement within two to three weeks.