3 Great Balance Exercises

By Tammie Jo , last updated November 19, 2011

Balance exercises are great to practice no matter what your age or physical fitness level. Having good balance can prevent a serious fall, a particular concern for older Americans. In fact, the National Institute of Aging recommends performing balance exercises at least two days a week, as long as they are not repeated two days in a row. But you don’t have to be older to be concerned about maintaining good balance, nor should you wait until you are a senior citizen to address your balance. It’s easy to incorporate balance exercises with the rest of your physical fitness routine; simply include them in the warm-up or cool-down portion of your regimen. If you don’t already have a fitness routine, balance exercises are a safe way to get up and get moving.

Beginner’s Balance Exercise
The One-Foot Stand
Stand in back of a chair and place your left hand on the top to hold yourself steady. Lift the right foot and balance on one foot up to 10 seconds at a time. Let go of the chair if you can. Repeat 10 to 12 times. Place your right hand on the chair and repeat the exercise with the left leg. Practice the one-foot stand until you can do it easily without holding the chair for balance.
Intermediate Balance Exercise
The Airplane
Extend your arms out from your sides like the wings of an airplane. Keep them even with your shoulders. Bend your right knee and lift your foot off the ground. Keep your arms at shoulder height and shift them to extend in front of and in back of you. At the same time, extend your lifted foot to straighten your leg and lift it parallel to the floor. Stretch your left hand and right foot as far away from each other as you can while you maintain balance on your left foot. Hold for a count of 10, and slowly lower your foot to the floor. Repeat 10 to 12 times and alternate legs for another 10 to 12 repetitions. Concentrate on performing all the movements together fluidly as you keep your balance.
Advanced Balance Exercise
The Plank Pike-Up
This great balance exercise utilizes a stability ball and targets your abdominals, lower back and core. To stay balanced, these key zones must be engaged. Place a stability ball at the end of your exercise mat. Steady yourself with your palms placed flat on the mat in front of the ball while your shins rest on the ball. With arms shoulder-width apart, lift your body into an inverted V. Keep your head down, hanging between your arms and lift your bottom toward the ceiling. Hold the position for a count of one and resume the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 to 12 times, pulling your abdominal muscles in tight as you lift your body into and out of the inverted V.
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