Why Balance Exercise Should Be Part Of Your Workout Routine

When's the last time you thought about the balance — both physically and figuratively — in your life? While most of us go about our days standing, walking, and reaching for things without giving it a second thought, good balance is required to do each of these normal activities — and practically everything else — safely. Strengthening the ability to balance is not just something that stroke survivors or the elderly can benefit from, although they are certainly at a higher risk for falls. Everyone, from athletes to busy parents, can improve their health and fitness level by including balance exercises into their normal workout routine.

Balance, according to Body in Balance Rehabilitation, is the ability to control (and maintain) the body's position. Think of the balance and control necessary for something as simple as standing on your toes and reaching an item at the top of a high shelf. 

Balance exercises are important for overall health

We're all aware of the importance of strength, endurance, and flexibility exercise. Balance exercise is often less well-known, but is actually the fourth type of exercise that's important for overall health and fitness. Amanda Butler, a personal trainer and fitness instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York, notes "It's as important as cardio, strength and flexibility" (via Redbook).

Balance exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles that help keep you from falling over — especially the legs and core. They usually involve slow, methodical movements like leg raises, lunges, or movements as simple (but challenging) as walking heel-to-toe in a straight line or getting up from a chair without using your arms. The good news is that incorporating balance exercises into your routine doesn't require any special equipment or circumstances. They are easy to incorporate into many normal day-to-day activities. Just standing on one leg while talking on the phone will help. Robbie Ann Darby, an ACE-certified personal trainer in New York City, says "Basically anything that challenges your center of gravity will improve your balance" (via SELF).