As we age, our ability to balance on our own two feet diminishes. Training yourself to balance when you have a spare moment can prevent falls, greatly reducing the chance of injury such as broken hips and head injuries. There are several ways you can begin to do this, and most have the added benefit of giving a full body workout.
Practicing yoga improves your overall core strength and flexibility. Many poses require you to stand on one foot or in similar positions that require holding the mass of your body weight in a balanced manner for a number of seconds. Regularly stretching these core muscles, as yoga lengthens and strengthens them, will give you a stronger body overall and improve your ability to keep your balance.
The simple act of sitting on a yoga ball instead of a desk chair slyly improves your balance by engaging your core muscles as you constantly (and unconsciously), roll with the ball to keep yourself centered on it. Employed and accepted in many ergonomically conscious offices now, they are a cheap and easy solution to keep you on your toes. Also, it will eventually help tone your abs and will burn more overall calories than just sitting in a regular chair.
Have you ever looked at someone riding a horse and said “That looks easy. You just sit there. I could do that.”? Well put your money where your mouth is and go saddle up. Horseback riding is one of the most popular forms of physical therapy out there. Many riding schools specialize in rehabbing those with injuries or impairments that have affected their central nervous system. Horseback riding engages the body and mind, and you use virtually every muscle in your body to stay up on the back of the beast. Not only will riding improve your balance, it will improve your posture as well.
Stretching With Light Weights
Many strength training exercises can be useful for improving balance when done correctly. Adding in light weights (two to five pounds per hand), is an excellent way to practice training the muscles needed to catch yourself the moment before a fall. Standing one leg while doing arm lifts forces you to multitask and strengthens foot and leg muscles.
Bongo or Indo Board
Feel like getting extreme about practicing your balancing abilities? Get a bongo or indo board. Both of these boards were invented to help athletes that rely on balance in their sport to train when they couldn’t be on the mountain or in the water. These boards have a cylinder that an oblong board balances on, with lips on either side to catch the board before it shoots off into living room furniture. Be aware, however, that these bongo boards can be addictive, and before you know it, instead of couch surfing while watching tv, you will be surfing your bongo board in the living room.
There are many options available for maintaining and retaining your balance as you get older, whether it be to ski until you are eighty, or train for an athletic competition in your twenties. The simple act of balancing on one leg in the grocery store line is a small regular step towards improving your balance. Go swap your desk chair for a yoga ball!
Will writes for Fellow, purveyors of the finest quality board shorts and surfing accessories. At Fellow we believe in making the highest quality products which last. Learn more about our products by visiting our website or connecting with us on Facebook.