The simple practice that’s missing from your exercise routine
Whether you’re just begging to add some movement into your schedule or are a longtime gym rat – good for you! There are countless benefits to exercise, with strength training and cardio at the center of most workouts. But if your exercise routine is solely made up of sweaty cardio sessions and weight lifting, you’re missing out on something major: A balance practice!
A good sense of balance helps align your muscular system, which is important for stability. Without good balance, you can easily fall off that bike, trip while jogging, or pull a muscle doing jumping jacks. An exercise-related injury can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it means you have to put your health goals on hold.
You don’t need any fancy equipment, a gym membership or very much time to work on these balance exercises. Consider sneaking in some stability-strengthening movements in those idle moments of the day: The perfect opportunity could be when you’re waiting in line, talking on the phone or even sitting at your desk.
Before we get to the actual balance exercises, here are some general pointers to keep in mind:
- Keep your head neutral: Focus on a still point at eye level to keep everything aligned.
- Relax your shoulders: Remind yourself to release your shoulders throughout the movements.
- Don’t arch your back: You might need to reposition throughout your practice to ensure your spine is neutral.
- Tuck your hips under: You want to create a nice, straight line through your body.
Now, on to the movements.
- No-hands chair. Try getting out of a chair and sitting down without the use of your hands. You may find it harder than you think. Without your hands you have to work your core (abs and stomach muscles) as well as your thighs. This is a great exercise you can do anywhere.
- Shoe tie. Tie your right shoe by standing on your left leg and raising your right knee. Switch feet, then do 2 to 3 times on each side. Another variation is to stand on one leg for a few seconds, with arms stretched out. Gradually Increase the seconds every day.
- Baby Tree. Stand on one leg and bring the sole of your other foot onto your shin (never on your knee!). Start at your ankle if your balance is still developing. Bring your hands together at your chest. Hold for 10 seconds and rest, then build up time gradually. This exercise is based on the more difficult yoga pose known as the “Tree” pose, which brings the sole of the foot to the opposite thigh. Keep that as your aspiration!
Give these exercises a try every Monday and throughout the week. After practicing them for a few months, you’ll feel stronger and more balanced in your body. Connect with us to learn more Move It Monday tips on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.