Person balancing on one leg

How to improve your balance and long-term health without tools

Why is it important to have a good balance?

As you get older, it becomes more and more important to have good balance. As an older person, good balance can prevent you from falling and help you maintain your independence for longer. Start at a young age to practice good posture and good balance will benefit your everyday life and your future. Balance exercises should be done with strength, endurance and flexibility exercises. This variety of exercises can help you keep your body fit and healthy.

Things that will help improve your balance

  • Lower body exercise
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Walking

Simple walking exercises to get you started

  • See how long you can stand on one foot.
  • Have stable furniture next to you so you don’t fall.
  • Walk heel to toe across the room, walking in a straight line like on a balance beam.
  • Place your right heel in front of your left toe and vice versa as you walk.

Balancing exercises for beginners

The following exercises can help you challenge your balance. Feel free to modify these exercises to suit you! If these are too difficult, have a sturdy object nearby for support. Gradually work on not using an object to help you balance by holding on with your hand, then just a finger, then not at all. If these drills are too easy for you, check out this blog post to see more difficult balancing challenges.

One leg lift

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips or hold onto something sturdy for support.

2. Slightly bend your right leg, letting your body weight rest on your left leg.

3. Stay here until you find your balance.

4. When ready, straighten your right leg and lift it in front of you, then relax.

5. Do 3 sets of 10 on both sides.

One leg squat

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips or hold onto something sturdy for support.

2. Slightly bend your right leg, letting your body weight rest on your left leg. Stay here until you find your balance.

3. When you’re ready, lift your right knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor, then sit back down.

4. Do 3 sets of 10 on both sides.

Calf Raise

Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Have a sturdy object next to you to help you if you need it.

Raise the soles of your feet and rest.

Do 3 sets of 10.

Alternate options: As you lift the soles of your feet, bring one arm in front of you. If this is too easy, try sticking both arms out in front of you. You can also try to stay up for as long as you can without holding on to any support object.

Tree pose

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips or hold onto something sturdy for support.

2. Slightly bend your right leg, letting your body weight rest on your left leg.

3. Stay here until you find your balance.

4. Bring your hands close to your chest.

5. Lift your right leg so that the bottom of your right foot rests on your left thigh. If this is too difficult for you, let your foot rest on the side of your calf. By practicing, you will be able to do more difficult versions of this pose.

6. When you are ready, raise your arms to the sky and look up. Try to hold this position for 30 seconds. Rest. Do this on both sides.

Half squat

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Keeping your knees at or behind your toes, squat about 10 inches or halfway squat. Place your hands in front of you for balance. Hold the squat for 3-4 seconds, then stand up, pushing your heels out and thrusting your hips forward at the top.

References 

Crockleton, E. (2019, March 22). 13 exercises for balance. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/exercises-for-balance

Heart. (2020). Balance exercise. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/balance-exercise.

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Balance exercises. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/balance-exercises/sls-20076853

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