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Instructions for Exercises to Improve Balance

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick • edited by: Angela Atkinson • updated: 4/19/2011

Balance of the mind, body and soul are keys to living a more fulfilling and healthy life. Here, we’ll share some easy to follow instructions for a few outstanding exercises to help you achieve better balance in the physical sense.

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    Maintain Balance and Avoid Injury

    A few simple balance exercise instructions will help you achieve and maintain a vital sense of physical equilibrium. Good balance is a key to everything you do. When you practice exercises geared specifically for that purpose, you'll have improved coordination and maybe more importantly, possibly prevent future injury. Even when you’re just waiting in a line at the grocery store, standing on one foot is a good balancing exercise you can do while you’re simultaneously cultivating patience.

    It’s a good idea to incorporate the following exercises into your weekly regimen for the maximum benefit. For those of a certain age, reading The Importance of Balance Exercise for Elderly People will explain that as the body ages, it is even more important to strengthen balance.

    Before attempting to execute the following exercises, consult a physician to determine whether you're physically healthy enough to do so. If you have poor balance, have someone assist you until you feel confident doing them on your own.

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    Single Leg Balance Variations

    Ankle Work Start with the easiest balancing exercises to find out where you stand in terms of equilibrium.

    For single leg weight shifts, stand with your feet hip distance apart and shift your weight to one foot. At first, start with 10 repetitions on each side. Hold the pose for ten seconds to one minute. The longer you hold the pose and the more sets you do, the more balanced you’ll become.This exercise will make you conscious of the muscles in your feet and ankles that help you stay balanced.

    As you progress, all kinds of variations can be added.

    • The 'floating' leg can be moved out to the side or front.
    • You can use dumb bells to do curls with your arms while balancing on one leg and doing an alternating sequence.
    • You can start with one foot on the floor and the other leg bent, foot behind you. The arm opposite of your planted foot is extended out to the side of your body; the elbow bent 90 degrees, with your hand at about the level of your head. Bend down and cross the extended arm toward the planted foot, just like the forward motion of a pitcher's wind up (as seen to the right.)
    • Use a Bosu ball when you're more confident.

    When one conjures up visions of the most balanced human beings, ballerinas are on top of the list. Check out this list of exercises to improve balance in ballet to see how the pros do it.

    Image credit/Daniel P. McGoldrick

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    Yoga: The Tree Pose

    Tree Pose Yoga is one of the best regimens you can practice to help you achieve physical balance, as well as mental and spiritual balance. Taking a class will help you stay consistent, and with the help of an instructor, you can ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly and safely.

    Iyengar Yoga in particular is phenomenal for people of all ages and conditioning levels. That's because props such as blocks and ropes are used to help practitioners attain poses they might not otherwise be able to do. The outer balance you cultivate doing yoga poses helps achieve an inner harmony by quieting the mind.

    Here's a pose you can try.

    With both feet firmly rooted to the ground shift your weight to the left foot, bend your right knee. Reach down with your right hand and gently grab the right ankle. Draw the right foot up while maintaining a strong and balanced left leg. Place the heel as close as you can to the inner left groin.

    For an added challenge, raise your hands up above your head at shoulder length apart and look toward the ceiling. Be patient and take your time when starting out, it will take time and practice but you can learn to hold this pose for minutes at a time.

    Image credit/flickr.com/dgilder