Shayna Schmidt | Oct. 18, 2018
There are tons of great reasons to challenge your balance during your workouts. First and foremost, we all want to live long, healthy lives without injury. Improving balance prevents falls in the later years of our lives. Second, a controlled “wobble” activates deep core muscles to help tighten our tummies. And finally, if you’re an athlete, balance massively improves ability with speed, agility, and quickness, preparing you for that quick jump or lunge.
When you try any of our suggested tips below, make sure that you engage your abdominal muscles by “bracing” or tightening them. No need to hold your breath, but imagine that you’re preparing to take a punch in the tummy. This is called bracing, and it means that you’re activating the core muscles surrounding your spine, which will in turn protect you as well as help to tone your entire midsection. Who doesn’t want that?!
Here are some tips on moves that will help you embrace the wobble, and in turn strengthen your core.
Balance exercises can be done without a bosu ball-- think standing on one leg! If you can’t stand on one leg for 30 seconds or more, you have no business standing on a bosu ball. Try alternating balancing on one leg (bending the standing leg slightly at the knee will help, as will staring at a non-moving object or point in front of you). Got that down? Now try with closed eyes! It’s typical to be stronger on one leg than the other, so don’t be alarmed. These single-leg moves will strengthen the weaker side.
Aging is associated with a progressive decline in overall muscle strength. Loss of lower limb strength leads to an increased risk of falls a well as a sedentary lifestyle. A 2013 study that examined the balancing effects of strengthening certain muscles concluded that, “Improvement in lower limb strength may lead to balance enhancement in neurologically intact older people.” That’s enough reason to start squatting in our book.
Bodyweight exercises such as lunges and squats will help to make you stronger, increase your range of motion and challenge your balance. Good form is important to maximize benefits. For a squat, stand with feet hip-width apart and turn toes out slightly. Think about sitting in a chair as you slowly bend your knees and shift your weight back and down into your heels. Keep core engaged and only go as low as you can without knees traveling over toes. Pause for a moment, and then drive up through your heels back to standing on an exhale. For lunges, try a reverse lunge (stepping back with one foot) first if you’re new to the move, and progress to a front lunge (stepping forward with one foot) for a slightly greater challenge.
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