Improve Your Balance & Strengthen Your Core With These Fun Exercises!

Your ability to balance gives you a world of knowledge about your level of fitness. Is your core strong? How tight are your hamstrings? Is your posture correct? Are you overweight? Are you feeling grounded or flighty, focused or distracted? Are your joints strong and mobile?

Testing your balance will help you answer the above questions and more. Moreover, balance is essential not only for activities of daily living and functional movement, but also to preserve the strength of your bones, muscles and joints over time.

According to the CDC, one in every three adults age 65 years and older falls, which can lead to moderate or severe injury. But don’t stop reading if you are under 65! The younger you are, the easier it is to develop a fitness program that incorporates balancing as a key component. It's time to establish a lifetime of strength and health.

*These balancing exercises make for fun competition! Get your family or co-workers and start a challenge!

Starting Position For All Levels

  1. Stand with your feet hips' width apart and straight. Make sure that your knees line up behind your second toes.
  2. Place your hands on your hips.
  3. Make sure that your pelvis is aligned over your legs in a neutral position (neither tilting forward nor backward).
  4. Engage your core by drawing your navel in and up toward your chin.
  5. Align your shoulders over your hips and make sure they're facing straight forward.
  6. Situate your neck evenly between your shoulders and in space back to front.
  7. Keep your head directly on top of your neck and facing forward evenly.
  8. Feel the crown of your head rising toward the ceiling.

Beginner

  1. Visualize a rectangle beneath the soles of your feet. Feel your weight pressing evenly into each of the four corners of the rectangle.
  2. Shift your weight onto your right foot. Focus your gaze on a single point ahead. Lift your right heel off the ground balancing on the ball of your foot only. Make sure that your left arch is lifted, ankle stable and knee in a micro bend.
  3. Elevate your toes off the ground as you bend your knee to about 45 degrees.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds and if you are totally stable, elevate your knee to 90 degrees at hip height, keeping it directly in front of your hip. Build gradually to a 1-minute hold.
  5. Repeat standing on your right foot and elevating your left leg.

Progression 1 Beginner Intermediate

  1. Follow steps 1-4 of the beginner variation.
  2. When you achieve a solid balance with your knee at hip height, extend your elevated leg until it is straight (if knee is bending, lower it until it is straight). Hold for 5 seconds. Bend your knee to starting position.
  3. Straighten your leg to the right and bring it back to starting position.
  4. Extend your leg behind you (directly behind your hip) and bring it back to starting position.
  5. Repeat standing on your right foot, elevating your left leg.
  6. Note: As your balance improves, hamstrings open and your ankles, knees, quads, core, and hips get stronger, you can lift the elevated leg higher.
  7. Do 3 full sets: 1 set = all directions front, side and back.

Progression 2 Intermediate

  1. Follow all steps of the intermediate variation only as you extend your elevated leg, bend your standing leg keeping your knee aligned behind your 2nd toe. Always come back to center with your knee at hip height before starting the next direction or set.
  2. Do 3 full sets: 1 set = all directions front, side and back.

Progression 3 Intermediate Advanced

  1. Follow all steps for the intermediate variation, only now add arm extensions as you extend your elevated leg and bend the standing one. Before your start, make a fist with your left hand and wrap your right hand over it. Hold your fisted hands at the center of your chest (manubrium). With each leg extension, press your hands forward until your arms are completely straight. Do the same arm action (pressing forward only) for every direction. When you switch legs, also switch your hand fist so that you wrap your left hand over your right fist.
  2. Do 3 full sets: 1 set = all directions front, side and back.

Progression 4 Advanced

  1. Do the exact moves you did in the intermediate/advanced progression, only now do them while holding a 3- or 5-pound dumbbell. You will start holding the dumbbell vertically against your chest
  2. Do 3 full sets: 1 set = all directions front, side and back.

For more fitness and yoga challenges, you can try my planking challenge or core challenge!

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