Fitness in Focus: The Balance Challenge

  • Everyone is programmed to survive. We have a “fight or flight” instinct that is capable of extraordinary feats of death-defiance. We also have a primal instinct to maintain balance because falling down is not a good option when running from a lion. Capitalizing on the basic reflexes that maintain balance is an excellent way to tone muscles, muscles you might not even know you have.


    These muscles include deep spinal muscles called multifidi and abdominal wall muscles called the transverse abdominis. But without a well coordinated nervous system, these muscles are not very effective at maintaining balance. Thus, a balance-challenging exercise program fine tunes the nervous system reflexes and activates key muscle groups in a coordinated fashion.

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    One simple way to introduce balance-challenging exercises into your program is to simply stand on one leg. Sounds easy but for many adults it is not. If it is too easy, then try standing on a couch cushion, a pillow or a wobble board. If this is still too easy, close your eyes. Yes, challenging your balance can progressively get more and more difficult.


    Another way to challenge your balance while doing traditional exercises is to do the same exercise on an unstable object like a wobble board or a ball. Sit-ups, push-ups, bridges, and planking, all get much more difficult to do when done on an unstable surface. If you are not sure how to safely introduce balance-challenging devices to your workout, ask a personal trainer or physical therapist.


    Before such devices existed, millions of people practiced the martial arts as a way to improve health, wellness, and balance. Tai Chi is a very user friendly martial art that is practiced by people of all ages. Qigong is another martial art that can improve your balance. These ancient forms of exercise help to create balance in your life in more ways than one.


    In fact, improved balance will improve your life in more ways than one. You will be less likely to fall down. You will be more likely to enjoy going for walks with less pain. You will have better core strength. There are too many benefits to count and too many benefits to ignore your need to challenge your balance.

Published On: August 31, 2014