The Easy Core Exercise You Can Do While Brushing Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is something you do every day, probably twice a day. Yet, often you don't pay much attention to it. You stand in front of the mirror, get some toothpaste on your brush, brush away till you think you've done a decent enough job, rinse, and leave the bathroom. 

But, turns out, there's something you can do when you brush your teeth every day to increase core strength — stand on one leg. Apparently, it also helps improve balance as you age. Talk about multi-tasking — doing something beneficial for your physical health while taking care of everyday personal hygiene. 

For a lot of us, losing balance as we age isn't something that we notice immediately; but the signs are there if we look, says  Dr. Anna Lowe, a chartered physiotherapist and specialist in physical activity and healthy aging (via The Guardian). "Maybe you used to be able to quickly stand on one leg to put a shoe on, and you've stopped doing that at some point. Maybe you used to get out of the bath onto a slippery floor without thinking, and now you have to hold on to something. It's easy to either miss the signs or just put it down to aging — but it really is something you can affect," she explained. Learning to balance yourself on one leg can improve your posture and bone health too, per group fitness instructor and active aging specialist at Life Time ARORA, Rosalind Frydberg (via Livestrong).

This core exercise can mean you are in good health

Being able to balance on one leg can be a sign that you're in good physical shape, added professor in aging and health at Glasgow Caledonian University, Dawn Skelton (via The Conversation). It can be indicative of a longer lifespan, less risk of falls, and brain health, according to the professor. "You are less likely to be able to stand on one leg without a wobble if you have a multitude of medical conditions such as Parkinson's disease, stroke or Alzheimer's disease," wrote Skelton. 

According to an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at New York University, Anat Lubetzky, balance is something that should be looked into when the basic vital signs (temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiration rate) are checked (via Healthline). "It is one indicator in a host of indicators on the general health of a person."

According to 2022 research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which looked at 1,702 participants with an average age of 61, not being able to stand on one leg for 10 seconds was linked with two times the risk of death from any cause within the next decade. "Typically, a person in their 50s should be able to balance on one leg for around 40 seconds. Someone in their 60s is looking at 20 seconds, and someone in their 70s is around 10 seconds," explained Lubetzky, per Healthline. 

Now that you know that being able to stand on one leg does more than just improve core strength, here's how you can do this exercise every day. 

Alternate between both legs morning and night

Since you will be brushing your teeth in the morning and at night, you automatically have two timeslots to practice balance and core strength while standing on either leg. "Doing this barefoot also helps work the tiny muscles in our feet and strengthen our ankles," added Frydberg (via Livestrong). 

Make sure you've got all you need to start brushing your teeth before you do this core exercise. In the morning, stand with your feet hip-width apart, per Mayo Clinic. Shift all of your weight to your right side for a little bit before slowly lifting your left leg up. You can use your free hand to hold on to the sink if you feel wobbly. Keep your core engaged; begin with just 10 seconds and try and work yourself up to more each time. Then at night, do the opposite leg. 

Some things to keep in mind include keeping a soft knee that isn't locked (on the leg that's doing the standing), and looking straight ahead into the mirror to make the balancing easy, shared Frydberg. The more you do it, the better you will become at it. Practice makes perfect. Don't forget the proper way to brush your teeth though. You don't want to compromise your oral health just so you can increase core strength and balance.