What’s Balance?

Take a guess: which of these activities requires balance?

  1. Hanging wet clothes out to dry
  2. Getting out of a sofa
  3. Standing in a moving MRT train

You guessed it: all these activities require balance! Balance is the ability to maintain control of your body's position whether stationary or while in motion. Balance is essential for us move through day-to-day activities safely. 

How to Improve Flexibility and Balance

Like strength training, balance training involves working our muscles. In this case, we focus on the muscle groups that keep us upright: our leg and core muscles.

You may feel that balance training is not effective, especially for those of us whose primary goal is to achieve a healthy weight or build muscle. Perhaps balance training is not the total body workout routine you were looking for that helps with calorie burning. But balance training is important. Think of it as building a stable foundation for all physical activities.

What do we gain from balance training? We’ll have better coordination and form, which reduces our risks of injury when we exercise.

As we age, having good flexibility and balance also helps prevent falls and improves our functional performance.

Start Slow With a Simple Home Workout

Ready to go steady? Here are some exercises to improve balance that you can do in your living room while watching your favourite TV shows. Plus, you don’t need any special equipment or a personal trainer!

Here’s a tip: If you haven’t quite found your balance, try standing behind a chair and holding on for support!

Balance on One Foot

  1. Stand up straight, bend your right knee, and raise your right foot behind you (towards your buttocks).
  2. Try to maintain your balance on one leg or foot for 30 seconds.
  3. Switch to the other foot and repeat.

Up for a challenge?

Try balancing while doing chores like washing the dishes.

Raise Your Heels (i.e. Tiptoe)

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift your heels off the floor, balancing on the balls of your feet with your weight evenly distributed.
  3. Slowly lower your heels back to the floor. Do three sets of 10 raises.

Raise Your Toes

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Lift the toes and balls of your feet off the floor, resting your weight equally on both heels.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position. Do three sets of 10 raises.

Side Leg Raises

  1. Stand up straight and raise your right leg to the side at 45 degrees. Keep your leg straight from hip to heel.
  2. Lower the leg. Repeat 10 times.
  3. Repeat the same movement with your left leg, 10 times.
  4. Do three sets of 10 on each leg.

Level Up

Once you’ve gotten the hang of the basic balance movements, turn up the difficulty by letting go of the chair, and holding the raised positions longer before releasing.

For example, instead of balancing on one foot for 30 seconds, try to maintain that position for one minute.

Closing your eyes (removing the visual stimulus) it challenges your vestibular and proprioceptive senses. For most people, balancing with their eyes closed can be extra challenging, it is important to be mindful of your own safety as you attempt to progress, ensure your surrounding is free from obstacle as you add a challenge to your vision.

And as you get more confident, why not increase instability to test your balance even more? Stand on a pillow, cushion, or your child’s foam play mat while you practise those moves.

Do consult your doctor before starting any exercise regime, and practise caution when exercising. Remember, safety first!

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