We’ve all heard that balance is important for seniors to prevent falls, but it is equally important for people of all ages. Did you know that people who can’t stand on one leg for over 20 seconds are at increased risk for dementia, according to research in the journal Stroke? Or that balance training at any age can improve your memory and spatial cognition?
I love adding balance moves into my workout. Most of the time I’m in Warrior mode and like to focus on martial arts, which requires a lot of balance training. However, I also love strength training, and I find that challenging my center of gravity during my workout forces me to focus mentally and enhances the concept of a mind-body workout.
How’s your balance? Take this quick test then try the following three exercises to improve your balance…and boost your brain.
Take the Balance Test
(Safety tip: Stand near a wall so you can reach out in case you need support.)
- Stand on a hard, level floor.
- Lift one foot about 6 inches off the floor.
- Close your eyes.
- Hold this position for as long as you can.
If you can’t balance for 20 seconds, it’s important to incorporate balance training into your routine.
Try These 3 Balance Exercises
The Flamingo Trick
- Practice standing on one leg—I call it the “flamingo trick”—as described above with your eyes closed when you’re in a safe environment.
- You can also try this by standing on one leg without closing your eyes in everyday situations—in the checkout line at the grocery store, while talking on your phone, etc. Don’t close your eyes until you feel stable and balanced doing it with your eyes open.
Wobble Board Balance
- Stand on a wobble board with legs hip-width apart.
- Try to keep it horizontal for 30 seconds.
Plank with Arm and Leg Raises
- Start in a plank (push-up) position with arms extended directly below your shoulders and feet about hip-width apart.
- Keeping your core stable, raise your right arm straight in front of you in line with your body at the same time you raise your left foot a few inches off the ground.
- Hold for 15 seconds.
- Switch sides, raising your left arm and right foot while keeping your core steady.
- Continue alternating for a total of 10 times on each side.
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