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Health and Fitness News

A Balanced Workout

What place do balance workouts have in the world of fitness?

Balance—it’s vital to navigating your daily routine, but how often do you work on your balance in the gym? If you’re like most, you take your balance for granted. You know you need cardio and strength training and maybe some flexibility exercises thrown in every once in a while, but you may not think of balance exercises as an important aspect of being fit.
But it is!

Here’s why you should include balance exercises in your workout routine, along with a few of the best intermediate balance exercises to get you started.

All About the Core

When it comes to balance, your core does most of the heavy lifting. Balance exercises will work all your muscles, but they focus on your core, which consists of your abs, sides, glutes, neck, and back muscles. When your core is strong, everyday activities become easier, athletic performance improves, your risk of injury decreases, and your abs appear more toned.

Balance exercises, also called off-balance or stability exercises, improve body awareness, coordination, and stabilization. As you make your body do unnatural poses and movements, it requires focus, which challenges your brain and body to work together in new ways. Since they’re a form of exercise, balance exercises also burn calories and build muscle.

A Few Examples

To do the flamingo stand, stand on your right leg, lift your left leg and extend it forward in front of you. Hold for several seconds and then return to standing. Add challenge by reaching toward your left foot with your right arm. Repeat several times, then switch sides. Keep good posture during the exercise.

Try a lateral lunge by standing with your feet placed hip-width apart. Lunge to the right side and lower into a squat. Keep your left leg straight. Now push off with your right foot, come back to standing position, and bend your right knee while you balance on your left leg. Repeat and switch sides.

For a standing crunch with under-the-leg clap, stand on your right leg, lift your left leg in front of you, and bend your left knee at a 90-degree angle. Raise your hands over your head then bend forward and bring your arms under your left leg and clap. Lift your arms back over your head and clap again. Repeat and switch sides.

A rolling forearm side plank requires you to start in a side forearm plank position. For this, lie on your side and then prop up your entire body using your right forearm and the side of your right foot. From this position, raise your left arm toward the ceiling. Hold for several seconds. Now, roll your body toward your other side so you’re supported on your left forearm and the side of your left foot. Raise your right arm toward the ceiling. Continue rolling from side to side.

To do the single-leg deadlift, stand with your feet placed hip-width apart. Place your weight on your right leg and extend your left leg behind you, while lowering your upper body and left arm toward the floor until your chest is parallel to the ground. Return to standing and raise your left knee toward your chest. Repeat, then switch sides.

The single-leg squat touchdown is another great option to build your balance. From a standing position, lift your right leg off the floor and squat down like you’re going to sit in a chair. While keeping your right foot off the floor, reach down with your right hand and touch your left foot or the floor. Return to standing. Repeat and switch sides.