Fitness and health experts often emphasize the importance of having a well-balanced body.
We look at why it is important to have a good sense of body balance and the natural ways in which to improve balance.
Why balance is important
Probably the first and foremost reason to try and optimize one’s sense of balance is to prevent falls and injury.
If you’re well balanced, you are less likely to fall and hurt yourself. This becomes vitally important as a person ages, because falls are the number one cause of disability and infirmity among seniors.
Better balance keeps you fitter and stronger for longer. Better body balance means improved coordination between the different parts of the body.
This is because as your sense of balance improves the body’s equilibrium is being challenged and your sensory receptor systems are required to perform some rather skilled movement patterns.
Balance training is often vital to improving sports performance.
For instance athletes involved in sports such as basketball and tennis find that their muscle stabilizers are strengthened due to balance training and hence their sporting performance. Better balance also means fewer sporting injuries.
Balance training also helps to ease symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis and helps in managing the disease better.
The posture also improves with balance. This means that you are less likely to suffer pain and degenerative problems as a result of bad posture.
How to improve balance
Exercises to improve balance can range from the simple to less simple. One simple exercise is to move from sitting position to standing position and then back; first with your eyes open and then again with your eyes closed.
Yoga and tai chi are recommended exercises to improve balance. These exercises consist of low impact gentle and slow movements. They not only improve balance they enhance core strength as well. This makes them suitable for older people as well, so long as they are performed in a safe and supervised manner.
For younger people, it is possible to improve balance by doing single leg jumps on a box or elevated step. A balance ball can also help improve balance. Weight shifts are another good exercise.
However remember that if you are an older person or if your balance has been impaired or affected by disease, injury or trauma, then you should do balance training only under medical supervision or expert supervision.