Balance can be the canary in the coal mine of overall health. Because it’s such a complex skill that involves the coordination of multiple musculoskeletal, nervous, and cognitive systems, good balance means your body is doing a lot of things right—which is why it’s a technique you might want to actively hone with practice. balance.
“You’re really looking at the body’s overall ability to function and coordinate its activity,” family physician Denin Fruge, MD, medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center, previously told Well+Good about the connection between balance and longevity.
The experts in this article
- Ben Lauder-Dykes, trainer at Fhitting Room
- Denin Fruge, MD, board certified family physician and medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center
- Katie Austin, fitness personality, recipe developer, app creator Katie Austin, TV host and Sports Illustrated model
- Michael Roizen, MD, chief health officer at the Cleveland Clinic
Why is balance so complicated?
“Keeping your balance requires more complicated relationships than a family of 60,” internal medicine doctor Michael Roizen, author of Rebooting the Great Age, previously told Well+Good about balance. “You have sensors throughout your limbs that communicate with position sensors in your ears and others in your eyes, all of which are integrated into an area at the back of the brain called the cerebellum and into the motor nerves that send messages to all of your skeletal muscles. to keep you upright.”
“Keeping your balance requires more complicated relationships than a family of 60 people.” – Dr. Michael Roizen
In addition, you must also have the muscle strength and control to carry out those instructions.
So when you exercise for balance, you are working to strengthen both the body and the mind. In general, repetition can build muscle memory and strengthen connections in your brain, including those responsible for coordinating balance. So expect a balance workout to involve doing the same sway-inducing moves over and over again.
What muscles does balance exercise work?
1. The core
In terms of muscles you can actively strengthen for balance, the core is key.
“Our balance comes from our core,” certified fitness trainer Katie Austin previously told Well+Good about ways to improve balance. “Your core encompasses the center of your body, including your pelvis, lower back, hips and stomach. When we train our core muscles, they help other muscles work cohesively and harmoniously, leading to better balance and stability.”
2. Feet and ankles
You might not think of your feet and ankles as powerhouses, but the little stabilizers at the base of your body do a lot of work to keep you upright. Building solid strength in your feet and ankles can stabilize your body from the ground up.
3. The muscles around major joints like the hips
The joints are the point where your balance is tested, so making sure they have the necessary backup in the muscles that support them is critical to balance. For example, your hip joints help you stand up straight, so to create stable hip joints, you want to work your glutes, inner thighs, and core.
“We can work on our balance and our stability simply by building more strength in the muscles that surround those joints,” says Ben Lauder-Dykes, a Fhitting Room trainer, in a new 20-minute kettlebell-based balance workout he created for Well. +Good’s coach of the month club.
Lauder-Dykes also points out that one side of our bodies can be more stable than the other, so when doing balance exercises, expect moves you make one side at a time to uncover and improve those weaknesses.
“We often have a side that’s better at creating stability and a side that’s better at creating power,” Lauder-Dykes says. “We don’t necessarily need them to be exactly the same, but we want them to be similar in their capabilities.”
Try this 20-minute kettlebell balance workout
Regular balance exercise can help improve your overall quality of life. “Balance isn’t just important when we exercise, it’s also essential in our everyday lives,” says Lauder-Dykes. “Working on our balance throughout this workout will help improve the way our hips, shoulders and arms move so you can make the most of every second of your day.”
His 20-minute kettlebell balance workout will test and build your balance by taking you through multiple variations of exercises that build your core and stabilizer muscles. For example, a lateral lunge will ensure you’re driving your hips through 360 degrees, and adding pulse “will help us really work the inner thigh muscle and the outer glute muscle,” Lauder-Dykes says. “These will help us when we do these lateral movements to create stability in the hip and knee.”
Later, the leg deadlift will challenge your hamstring strength, and then it becomes an even greater feat when progressing to the single leg deadlift. Shoulder taps, knee raises and more also round out the core section.
“Finding balance isn’t necessarily about one specific part of your body,” Lauder-Dykes says. “It’s about being able to organize all the different parts of your body so that we can shift our center of mass over a certain point, and the more successfully we can do that, the more successfully we can move in different ways, shapes.” , and no-fall positions.”
Ready to put your balance to the test? Grab a white bel and get ready to sweat, focus and have fun.
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