You don’t have to be an aerial gymnast to reap the benefits of balance-boosting exercises. In fact, good balance is important for people of any age and fitness level—from young weekend warriors, to parents of squirming toddlers, to active senior citizens.
The problem? In the fitness equation, balance is often overlooked. “Most people don’t address balance until they find themselves injured or in some sort of a deficit,” says Cris Dobrosielski, a spokesperson for the American Council of Exercise and the owner of Monumental Fitness Results, in San Diego, California. As we age, we naturally lose some of our flexibility and core strength, which further hampers our sense of balance, Dobrosielski explains. When that happens, we become more likely to suffer from an injury—or, when we’re older, a potentially dangerous fall.
The good news: Balance is a learned practice. Even if you’re prone to occasional clumsiness, integrating balance-boosting exercises into your routine (and sticking with them) can lead to a noticeable improvement. At minimum, Dobrosielski says, you’ll offset the natural decline in balance that you can experience as you age. “The question isn’t what are you born with,” he adds. “It’s what can you do today that will help you improve tomorrow.” Start by adding these exercises to your weekly workouts.
BUILDING BALANCE IN YOUR 20s:
Single-Leg Balance With A Biceps Curl
1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a pair of dumbbells at your side. Raise your right knee until it forms a 90-degree angle (or as high as you can without losing your balance).
2. Rotate the dumbbells until your palms are facing the ceiling and curl the weights up, toward your chest.
3. Lower the weights to your sides, then return your right foot to the floor. Repeat with the left leg. That’s one rep.
Rolling Side Plank
1. Begin in the plank position, with your core braced and your forearms resting on the ground.
2. Rotate your body to the right side, raising your right arm up toward the ceiling and placing your right foot on top of your left foot. Lower your arm and rotate your right side down to the starting position.
3. Repeat on the left side by rotating your body to the left and raising your left arm up toward the ceiling, placing your left foot on top of your right. Return to the starting position for one rep.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift with Dumbbells
1. Start from an upright position, holding a dumbbell in each hand with an overhand grip, directly in front of your thighs. Keep your knees slightly bent and your back straight as you perform the exercise.
2. Push your hips back and lower the dumbbells until your back is almost parallel to the floor.
3. Push your hips forward to the return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
KEEP BALANCE IN YOUR 40s:
1. Holding a dumbbell at your chest, stand up straight with your shoulders back and your feet shoulder-width apart. This is the starting position.
2. Shift your weight onto your right foot and take a wide step back and to the right with your left foot, as if you were going to sink into a curtsey.
3. Lower your left leg until it’s roughly parallel to the ground then push upward through your left heel. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other foot. That’s one rep.
1. Begin in a push-up position, with your arms straight and your palms beneath your shoulders.
2. Keeping your core braced, bring your right knee forward, so that your right foot is just outside your right palm. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg. That’s one rep.
1. Lie on your back with your knees pointed toward ceiling and your feet flat on the floor.
2. Brace your core muscles and, driving through your heels, lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
MAINTAINING BALANCE IN YOUR 60s:
1. Stand behind a sturdy chair and hold the back of it with both or one hand.
2. Raise your right knee off the ground, until your right leg forms a 45-degree angle. Lower your leg for one rep.
3. Do a total of 10-15 reps with your right leg, then repeat with the left.
1. Start from a standing position and put the heel of your right foot directly in front of the toes of your left foot.
2. Step forward with your left foot and put your left heel directly in front of the right. (Your heel and toes should touch or be nearly touching.)
3. Repeat the movement for 20 steps.
Leg Raises With a Chair
1. With your feet about hip-width apart, stand behind a chair and grip the back for support.
2. Keeping your left leg slightly bent, slowly lift your right leg out to the side and hold the position for one second.
3. Return to the starting position, and repeat for a total of 10 times. Then, switch to the other leg.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.