How to Improve Your Balance and Stability

Female working out.
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Improving your balance may not be number one on your priority list, but maybe it should be. Balance falls into the same category as flexibility, core strength, and mobility.

These are all things our bodies need to function efficiently, but many of us don't actually do exercises to improve them. If you exercise regularly, you already work on your balance without even knowing it. But, just because you exercise doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement.

Easy Ways to Improve Your Balance

Here are a few ideas to get started on improving your balance:

  • Adjust your stance: Incorporate unilateral exercises (one arm or one leg at a time) or changing your stance allows you to work on your balance during your strength training routines. For example, using a split stance requires more balance than a wide stance. Even harder, stand on one leg.
  • Do yoga: Yoga accomplishes lots of things in one shot: you increase your balance, stability, flexibility, and muscular endurance.
  • Engage your stabilizer muscles: When you're using machines to lift weights, sit away from the pad to work on your stabilizer muscles.
  • Get an exercise ball: Among the multitude of exercises you can do, you can also simply sit on it while you watch television or work on the computer. You'll work on your balance and burn a few more calories.
  • Incorporate balancing moves all day: While you're standing in line, try to balance on one leg for as long as you can. To make it harder, close your eyes!
  • Walk with a book on your head: It'll improve your balance and your posture.

Check out these new-fangled balancing tools to really help you remain stable in an unstable environment. Playing around with fitness tools like the ones listed below can also help you gain more stability and balance, as well as help you strengthen your core. 

The Bongo Board

The Bongo Board is great for improving balance and coordination. It looks like a skateboard but has a rotating wheel underneath that allows you to maneuver it in any direction whether your indoors or outdoors. The grippers on top keep your feet in place so you won't fall off.

The informational packet that comes with the board warns you to use a spotter the first time and that's because it is difficult to find your balance at first. Without help, you may find yourself flying headfirst into the wall. Once you get the hang of it, you won't be able to stop using it. Some basic exercises you can do include pushups, squats, and upper body weight training exercises while standing on it.

Exercise Balls

Another great tool for balance is the exercise ball or stability ball. The stability ball is great because of its versatility. You can use it to strengthen your core muscles (abs, back, and pelvic floor) and, meanwhile, you're automatically working on your balance and internal stabilizers.

You can also use your ball for stretching exercises, and you can even use it as a weight bench to perform upper body exercises like chest presses and pushups.

Wobble Boards 

The wobble board is another popular item on the market these days. Like the Bongo Board, the wobble board is used to help improve balance and agility. Most wobble boards are circular and have a sphere underneath that adjusts to different angles according to your skill level. You can do squats, lunges, or upper body exercises while standing on it to add a balance challenge to your workouts.

DIY Stability Tools

There are also ways to make your own stability equipment at home. The next time you lie down for weight training exercises, place a rolled-up towel lengthwise under your back and try to balance on it while lifting.

Or, stand on a couch cushion while doing standing exercises, such as bicep curls or overhead presses. The key when it comes to balance training is to start slowly. It's easy to hurt yourself if you don't take your time and allow your body to get used to being in an unstable environment. 

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."