Life without trips and tumbles requires strength, stability, and coordination. This routine delivers on all fronts.
“A balanced body is a healthy body,” says SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack.
Yet aging has a way of zapping our sense of stability. True, your chances of falling do go up as you get older, but trips and tumbles are not inevitable.
Your best line of defense is balance training. The more you can do to challenge your balance, the steadier you'll be on your feet and the more confident you'll feel in your day-to-day movements, Jack says. Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.
This balance training circuit is made up of seven moves that build muscle while improving your coordination and stability.
How the 10-Minute Better Balance Workout Works
Balance exercises aren't about speed. In fact, moving slowly and taking time to hold each position is how you'll see gains.
The National Institute on Aging suggests doing balance exercises as often as you can. Do these exercises together as one routine two or three times a week. You can also weave your favorites into other workouts, or split the moves up and do them at different times of the day.
Before you get started, make sure you have plenty of room to move. You'll need a mat or some pillows for a few of the exercises. And don't forget to keep water handy to sip as needed. If you'd like support during any of the exercises, set up near a wall or counter.
All you need to do is press play and follow along. Be on the alert for Jack's tempo and pattern changes in certain moves. When you ask your body to do something unexpected, Jack says, it serves as a brain challenge and a coordination test.
If you’re performing the workout on your own, do the warmup and seven exercises below in order, and then repeat the whole circuit before doing the cooldown.
To keep tabs on your effort, use a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest. You can ramp up or dial down as you need, but you don't want to go higher than 7. As you move, keep breathing, and prioritize good form.
As always, safety is key. These exercises may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Do for 2 minutes
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms in front of your chest, palms together. Open your arms wide to the side, then return to start and bring your hands together. As your arms move, gently rock your body forward and backward.
You can continue this pattern, or try lifting your heels a bit higher with each rock forward. You can also switch up your arm movements and try pressing your hands behind your back and then bringing them forward.
Finish your warmup by slowly stepping side to side. As your feet come together, pause and tap the floor with the toe of your inside foot. If you're comfortable, try lifting the inside foot.
Make it harder: During the arm swing portion of the warmup, challenge your coordination by adding alternating single and double shoulder taps. Ready for more? Each time you tap, switch up your top hands.
Exercise #1: Squat with Side Balance
Do the move for 1 minute
How to do it: Stand with your feet wide apart. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes. Push your hips back, as if you’re sitting down in a chair, and do a full squat. As you come up, bring your feet together and tap one foot on the floor. Return to start, and repeat the move, this time stepping in with the opposite foot. Continue alternating side to side.
Make it harder: Once you’re comfortable with the pattern, try lifting the inside foot off the floor as you step together. Remember, you can use the wall or a chair for support.
Exercise #2: Split-Stance Reach
Do the move for 2 minutes
How to do it: Stand tall in a split stance. A wider stance will give you more stability, while a narrow stance will be more of a balance challenge. Keeping your feet firmly planted, squat down.
As you come up, reach both arms up and to one side. Let your eyes follow your hands. You can extend your arms and reach as far as you comfortably can. Pause, repeat the squat.
This time as you come up, reach up and to the opposite side. Continue the pattern for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
Once you have the movement down, do your reaches in a clock pattern, using the 9:00 and 3:00 positions as your range.
Exercise #3: Glute Bridge
Do 8 to 10 reps
How to do it: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, and heels a few inches away from your buttocks. Press your arms into the floor for support, and brace your core to minimize the arch in your lower back.
Push through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips up until your body forms a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Pause, then slowly lower your hips. That's one rep. Do eight to 10 reps, or as many as you can with good form.
Exercise #4: Bird Dog
Do 8 to 10 reps
How to do it: Start on all fours with your hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Engage your core, keep your spine neutral, and gaze down or slightly forward.
Lift your right arm in front of you and extend your left leg, keeping your toes on the floor. Your head should stay in line with your back. Pause, then lower back down, and repeat on the opposite side with left arm and right leg extended. That's one rep. Do eight to 10 reps, or as many as you can with good form.
Make it harder: As you extend your leg, lift your foot off the floor.
Exercise #5: Squat to Star Reach
Do the move for 1 minute
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides. Engage your core and squat down. As you come up, reach both arms up above your head, forming a Y.
Keeping your arms up, step each foot out to the side, moving one foot at a time. The pattern is: squat, reach, step, step. Think of touching the points of a star with each limb. Pause, return to start, and repeat the move.
You can continue that pattern. Or if you feel comfortable, make the movement more dynamic by reaching your arms up and stepping your feet out at the same time. Pause at the top of the movement to extend your arm reach and go up on your toes. The pattern is: squat, reach-and-step. Return to start and continue the pattern.
Make it harder: After the squat, hop your feet out to the side, trying to land on your toes and keep your heels lifted.
Exercise #6: Alternating Split-Stance Step
Do the move for 1 minute
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet close together, but not touching, knees slightly bent and back flat. Engage your core and lean forward slightly. Hop your feet apart into a split stance, letting your arms swing naturally. Pause, return to start, repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating.
If you’re following along with the video, listen for David Jack’s switch commands.
Make it easier: Skip the hop and simply step your feet into the split stance position.
Make it harder: Challenge yourself to do two or more split stances on one side before switching to the other leg. You can also vary the tempo or come up with your own pattern of switching. For example: left, left, right, right, right, left, and so on.
Exercise #7: Arm Raises
Do the move for 30 seconds
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms down in front. Engage your core. Slowly raise your arms to chest level, pull them apart and out to the sides, as far as you comfortably can. Slowly return to center front, and lower your arms to starting position. Continue the pattern.
Make it harder: Hold light dumbbells in each hand.
Do for 2 minutes
How to do it: March in place to bring your heart rate down, then finish with your favorite stretches.
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