Balance is fundamental to all bodily movement. Put simply, the act of standing on two feet requires balance, even if you’re no more conscious of it, as you are of breathing. If you’ve ever watched a baby emerge from crawling to become a toddler, when they pull themselves up onto two feet and try to walk, you’ll notice how much balance is a challenge.
There’s more to balancing than having good muscle tone and leg strength. We use many muscles in our body for stability, as well as our skeleton, vestibular system (the inner ear) and our brain. Balance is one of those essential skills which deteriorates with age, but you don’t have to lose it. Doing exercises regularly help you maintain this key skill we learnt in infanthood.
Why does balance deteriorate with age?
We take balance for granted throughout much of our lives, but the coordination between the brain, muscles and inner ear can deteriorate over time. The common indicators for losing your sense of balance are developing poor posture or feeling fatigue while standing upright.
Doing balance exercises slows this process, keeping your brain, muscles and inner ear working as if your body were younger. While it may not be the Fountain of Youth, balance exercises are proven to stave off some of the effects of getting older.
Preventing and minimising the impact of falls
Balance exercises do more than just work the muscles we use for balance. They allow us to maintain control of our core and limbs. Have you ever watched a dancer walking and thought how gracefully they move? This is because dancers have excellent balance.
This controlled elegance of movement allows your body to react, adapt and change quickly to any hazards threatening your ability to maintain balance. If you slip, you’re more likely to remain standing than fall, which in turn builds confidence when leaving the house. If you do fall, you’re far less likely to suffer physical damage like a broken hip.
Building good posture
We have an increasing problem in society with bad posture. The two main causes are limited movement patterns and leading a sedentary lifestyle. These cause problems like hunched shoulders and poor back mobility. We simply aren’t giving our bodies the type of exercise it needs.
Balance exercises are ideal for building better posture. They help you reconnect to skills natural to the human form. As you build better balance, you build better posture, and in turn, better posture helps you build better balance!
Improving your coordination
Have you ever wondered at the marvel of a cat walking along a fence without a care for the idea it could fall? All animals in their natural habitat develop excellent coordination. Human beings were once like this too, but our modern lifestyles have narrowed the scope of the tasks we would have done to maintain good coordination.
Balance exercises help to restore your involuntary responses to stimuli, allowing you to adapt intuitively to differing physical challenges. Like the cat walking along a fence, you’ll feel like physical challenges are pathways, not an accident waiting to happen.
Balance exercises complement any workout
Anyone, of any fitness level or fitness regime can incorporate balance exercises into their workout routine. Balance exercises are low-intensity, meaning they don’t interfere with, or interrupt, muscle recovery from other forms of exercise.
In fact, balance exercises are known to improve the benefits you get from other forms of exercise. For example, if you run, developing better posture and coordination to support your centre of gravity reduces potential injuries and gives you a better workout.
Balance exercises strengthen muscle groups that don’t normally get used, which fine tunes your body and gives it greater overall strength. No matter your age or fitness level, balance exercises will only promote better health. Using an app like Nymbl is a great way of tailoring exercises to your physical ability and takes you through each exercise step-by-step. If you are finding it too hard, you can opt for a simpler version, or perhaps you want to make it harder? Nymbl allows you to increase the difficulty a notch, helping you to improve faster!