Whether you’re an athlete or just trying to stay healthy and in shape, your balance has a major impact. Including balance exercises in your workout helps keep your deep core muscles engaged and strong. It also helps you when you’re not working out, like when you need to catch your balance unexpectedly or lift heavy items without injury.
Begin with your core abdominal muscles tight and engaged and a chair or wall within reach. Stand with your feet together, and then raise one knee forward or to the side. Hold the position with your eyes open, and then closed, and then put your foot back down. Switch feet, and repeat for five reps on each foot.
Visualize a clock where your arms are the hands. Stand on one foot with your core engaged and your hands on your hips. Hold one arm straight up, pointing at 12:00, then move to 3:00, 6:00, 9:00, and back to 12:00. Go nice and slow, and hold your balance. Switch to the opposite arm and repeat. For an added challenge, have someone call out different times to you out of order or try on an unstable surface like a BOSU ball.
Stand on one leg with your abs engaged, and raise your other leg three to six inches off the floor. Keep your arms at your side, and slowly swing your leg forward and backward. Touch the floor for balance if you need to, and work up to just swinging your leg without letting it touch the ground. Next, swing your leg to the side with the opposite arm extended. Repeat on the other leg.
Single-Leg Dead Lift
Holding a 5- to 10-pound weight in your right hand, balance on your right foot, and bend forward at the hips. Reach toward the ground with your left hand, keep your back relaxed, and don’t lock your knees. As you return back to standing, tighten your buttocks. Switch legs, and repeat for 5 reps on each side.
Standing with your feet hip-width apart, point your right foot out with your heel touching the floor slightly. Tighten your core, and sit down into your hips and lower yourself into a squat. Keep your left knee bent, chest tall, and arms out front. Raise your right foot off the floor completely if you can. Slowly raise yourself back up to your starting position. Switch feet, and repeat for 5 reps on each side.
Consider adding balance boards or a lateral trainer to your balance exercises for more challenge. Lunges and planks are ideal for working balance and increasing core strength, especially if you’re a dancer or gymnast. Just start slow, and keep building confidence.