We don't tend to think much about balance until we're actually falling over, but the prime time to train and improve your balance is in your 30s and 40s. Thankfully, it doesn't take that much work.
Photo by: rosmary
Our sense of balance starts deteriorating around the age of 40, but a few exercises done for 5-10 minutes a day can keep that from happening. The good news is that you can work most of these exercises into your daily life without setting aside any extra time. The Wall Street Journal has a few suggestions you can work into your routine:
For people in cities with public transportation, avoid clutching tightly on to the poles in subway cars. A lighter grip will challenge your body to maintain stability on its own. Another option: Walk on many differences surfaces, says Mr. Jackson of Mount Sinai. When at a park, for example, alternate between walking on the pavement and the grass because the unstable surface will make the muscles work more...
For office workers, simply getting up from a chair 10 times in a row can be useful, says Mr. Jackson. Alternate between getting up with your feet in wide stance, which provides more support, and getting up with a narrow stance with your feet touching.
Those are great for when you're out and about. If you're looking for a more structured training regime, there are also some good suggestions:
- Walk in a circle or oval. Make the circle or oval smaller and smaller so the curve becomes tighter.
- Stand on one leg (hold on to a counter if you need to) and do leg lifts to the front, side, back, and up like you're marching. This exercises four groups of muscles in your hips, which are important to preserving balance.
- Get up from your chair 10 times in a row without leaning on arm rests. Alternate between your feet in wide stance and close together. Make it more difficult by closing your eyes.
- Put five cones (or other objects) in a straight line and weave between them.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Put your right foot in front of your left, and shift your weight onto your right foot so that the left heel is off the ground. Do this 10 times. Repeat with left foot in front of the right foot. Variations: Do the exercise alternating feet or stepping backward or with your eyes closed.
The good news is if you start paying attention to to your balance in your 30s and 40s it should keep you steady into old age. Head over to the full article for a lot more balance training exercise ideas.
Boost Your Balance; Avoid Falls [The Wall Street Journal]