When I was a gym newbie, I enlisted the expertise of a personal trainer to help me learn which exercises were best for my goals. His verdict? Start balance exercises ASAP! Years of bearing weight on my right leg and overloading my handbags meant my first balance diagnostics results were a disaster — I couldn't last a full minute standing on my left leg.
As I learned, balance is an important skill that needs to be maintained. Since we start losing our sense of balance after 25, doing exercises to maintain it is an essential part of your fitness routine. And with ski and snowboarding season just around the corner, perfecting your balance should start now.
- If your gym has a BOSU, try using it for some very effective exercises: balance on one foot on the top of the BOSU while doing bicep curls, or start with both feet on the floor and alternate toe taps in quick succession, aiming for the top point of the BOSU.
- All of these balance ball exercises are a great way to challenge yourself. My favorite is the Balance Challenge; it's an easy way to take notice of your progress, and it's fun to have a friendly competition with a gym buddy about who can stay on the longest.
- Take a few minutes every day while you're brushing your teeth or watching TV to stand on one foot, with your other foot raised just barely above the ground. Sounds easy, but if you haven't been maintaining your balance it can be hard! Once you've mastered that, add some arm circles into the mix, and close your eyes.
- Invest in a balance board. If you're serious about your balance, keep one of these around and pull it out when you have a few minutes for an effective lower-body muscle strengthening and balancing session.
- Up your Pilates or yoga routine. Yoga poses and Pilates exercises are great for working on your balance and strengthening your core. We like the leg pull back from Pilates mat class and the Warrior 3 pose.