Improving Balance

Previously, the importance of balance for all adults, both young and old, was discussed on the blog. Today we are going to tell you about some ways you can work on improving your balance through a variety of exercises.

 

Yoga:

Yoga, specifically hatha and lyengar yoga, is very beneficial in improving strength, which helps improve posture. Yoga is an activity that doesn’t target a specific area but instead focuses on the body as a whole. Hatha and lyengar yoga are low-intensity and very relaxing.

The following video is a short demonstration of Hatha Yoga.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaSZteagDAU

Tai Chi:

Tai Chi is a very dynamic type of exercise. It is weight-bearing, low-intensity, and aerobic. It involves slow and gentle movements, deep breathing and some meditation. Some of the benefits of Tai Chi include:

  • improved strength, conditioning, flexibility, and coordination
  • reduced pain and stiffness throughout the body
  • improved balance and a reduced risk of falls
  • improved sleep
  • greater awareness, calmness, and overall sense of well-being

Tai Chi is especially beneficial for older adults. Below is a short demonstration of Tai Chi.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym4Urlf9kPg

Airex Pads:

Airex pads are foam pads that you can stand, kneel or sit on that take away the proprioception that you receive from the ground. You can do many of your daily exercise with the airex pads or you can just stand on the pad and step on and off the pad either forward/backward or side to side. The airex pad forces you to concentrate more and your strength and balance. To make this
exercise harder, you could stand on one leg, close your eyes, or do core twists with a medicine ball.

Bosu Balls:

Bosu balls are half of a stability ball that can be used two different ways.

The first way is to set it on the flat side and stand on the ball side. This is the easier way of using it. You can stand on the ball with one or two feet and tighten your core and try to balance. This is also good for people with weak ankles because as you try to balance, the muscles and ligaments in your ankle must work hard to stay stable and over time they become stronger.

The second way that you can use the bosu ball is to place the ball side down and stand on the flat side. This is the more difficult way to do it. This way requires much more balance and strength. Use caution when attempting to use the Bosu ball this way because it’s easy to fall off or get injured.

Standing on the Floor:

Even something as simple as standing can help improve your balance.

  • Walk heel-to-toe: make sure the heel of one foot and the toes of the other foot are touching.
    *to make this easier, use one hand against the wall to help balance
    *to make it harder, close your eyes
  • Stand on one foot, alternating feet
    *to make it easier, hold onto a chair or countertop
    *to make it harder, close your eyes

For the older population, a good exercise is to sit down and get up from a chair without using your hands to help. This not only helps with balance, but with leg strength that is needed for everyday activities.

 

By: Samantha Lawton

Sources:

“How To Improve Your Balance.” Sample Exercises-Strength/Balance Exercises. National Institute on Aging, 31 Jan
2008. Web. 23 Sep 2011. <http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/ExerciseGuide/chapter04b.htm>.

“The Health Benefits of Tai Chi and Qigong.” Health and Balance. WebMD, n.d. Web. 23 Sep 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/health-benefits-tai-chi-qigong>.

“The Health Benefits of Yoga.” Health and Balance. WebMD, n.d. Web. 23 Sep 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/balance/the-health-benefits-of-yoga>.

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