Close your eyes. Lift up one leg. How long can you keep your balance for?
Having good balance may seem essential for circus performers, but is it really that important for the rest of us? Well, yes. Improving balance and building bone mass is a project we should undertake when we’re young to prevent a dangerous injury when we’re older.
Falling and, say, breaking a hip may seem ages away, but it takes time and practice to steel our bodies against that kind of injury—and it’s especially important for women to start early.
Why? Women tend to lose bone mass more quickly than men. Starting a targeted exercise regimen helps combat this. Strength training helps increase bone density and joint strength (to prevent broken bones), while balance training may help to prevent falls.
Try the following top exercises for both strength training and balance.
- Stand tall with both feet on the floor, and put your arms out to the sides.
- Slowly raise one foot off the floor, and place the sole of your foot on your other calf.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
Harder: Close your eyes.
Really hard: Stand on a BOSU ball placed dome side up (DSU).
- Place a large exercise ball in front of you, and place your torso over the ball.
- Slowly walk your hands forward with hands shoulder width apart. When you feel a little unsteady, stop!
- Keeping your core tight, slowly lower yourself down into push-up position, bringing your forehead toward the floor.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times.
Harder: Roll farther out to your feet.
Really hard: Place one leg on the ball and one in the air.
Plank Bent-Over Row
- Get into plank position with feet behind you and hands on the floor, with a dumbbell next to one of your hands. Flatten your back and engage your core.
- With one arm, grab your dumbbell and do a row.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times, then switch arms.
Easier: Go on your knees or alternate arms.
Harder: Increase the weight.
Really hard: Lift your opposite leg off the floor as you row.