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Eight Incredible Benefits of Balance Exercises for Your Health and Wellbeing

July 26, 2023 15 min read

Eight Incredible Benefits of Balance Exercises for Your Health and Wellbeing

This article discusses the importance of balance training and how it can improve your life in a variety of ways. Balance is the foundation upon which we perform all our daily activities, and maintaining balance is of paramount importance for several reasons. Balance exercises can have implications for multiple factors, including lifespan.

Whether you're an athlete aiming to maximize your performance, a consistent gym goer, or just someone who wants to feel better and age better, balance exercises can help. The benefits of balance training are indisputable. We will discuss how incorporating balance exercises into your daily routine can improve your life in ways you haven't thought of and some you may not have, from increasing core strength and preventing injuries to promoting mindfulness and reducing stress [12].   Balance can have implications for multiple factors, includinglifespan

Maintaining balance and stability in everyday life is of paramount importance for several reasons. First and foremost, balance is the foundation upon which we perform all our daily activities, from walking, sitting, and standing to more complex movements like carrying objects or navigating uneven surfaces. Good balance ensures that we can move confidently and without fear of falling, thereby reducing the risk of injuries and maintaining ourindependence as we age [15. Why is Balance Training So Important? 2023]. 

A well developed sense of balance contributes to improved posture by reducing muscle strain and improving the alignment of the joints. Beyond the physical aspects, balance also plays a crucial role in mental wellbeing. When we feel stable and in control of our bodies, it fosters a sense of confidence and boosts self-esteem [12]. Overall, maintaining balance and stability enhances our quality of life, promoting an active and fulfilling lifestyle while safeguarding our physical and mental wellbeing.

Balance exercises refer to a series of activities designed to develop or improve an individual's ability to maintain equilibrium and stability. These exercises typically involve challenging the body's balance through various movements, head positions, the eyes being open or closed, and weight distributions. 

The role of balance exercises in improving overall health cannot be overstated. By engaging the core muscles and fine-tuning proprioceptive abilities, balance exercises contribute to better body coordination and alignment, reducing the risk of falls and related injuries, especially among the elderly [15]. Moreover, incorporating balance exercises into a regular fitness routine strengthens the core and stabilizes muscles, which, in turn, can alleviate back pain and posture-related issues. 

In addition to their physical advantages, balance exercises have a good effect on cognitive processes, promoting increased focus and mental clarity. Exercises that focus on balance are essential for achieving maximum health and wellbeing for people of all ages because they encourage a holistic approach to wellness.  Maintaining balance has numerous advantages, such as increased core strength, better proprioception and body awareness, injury prevention and rehabilitation, greater sports performance, increased cognition, improved posture, and a decrease in stress.

 

 

Approaching Balance Training

It is possible to approach balance training from the center of the body.  A strong core contributes to improved posture and body stability (Richey, 2022). The abdominals, back muscles, and pelvic floor support the spine and pelvis like a corset, giving the body a secure base. A strong core increases balance and coordination, improving bodily stability. It improves movement control, especially during vigorous activity, reducing falls and injuries [10.]. Balance exercises engage the core by forcing the body to stabilise and maintain equilibrium. The core muscles—the abdominals, obliques, and spinal muscles—help stabilise the body during these workouts. In plank and single-leg stance exercises, the core muscles must work together to maintain the spine and avoid swaying. The addition of balance pads, wobble boards, or other equipment can further challenge the body as a form of progression [8.].  These workouts build core muscles by challenging the muscles that help maintain equilibrium. The core engaged throughout exercises and in daily life, improving posture, back pain, and stability. Balance training's core muscle activation improves physical health.

There are many intrinsic muscles in the feet. The foot though stiffer than the hand has similarities and the construction.  As a result of modern day living our feet may not be as strong, and as flexible/stiff as they could be to function optimally.  The function of the foot and how we activate the muscles of our feet is connected to the pelvic floor and core musculature [7a.].   Here is a video of Dr. Peter Attia performing a balance training exercise that incorporates activating the intrinsics of the foot with the addition of closed eyes, to train balance (Attia & Lewis, 2023).

Though Attia is demonstrating having the eyes closed while focusing on the small muscles of the foot, which is a similar approach to balance training discussed by Dr. Benno M. Nigg, professor emeritus of biomechanics at the University of Calgary, in an article published in Silver [13a.]. Nigg points out the importance of training multi directionally with the feet to ensure optimal stability, much in the same way we see with architecture.  A bottom-up approach means that a proper working foot may assist when it comes to slips and falls as well as provide a strong base to push from when walking.

Top Down Balance Training

Conversely, Dr. Emily Splichal argues that balance training is best performed by training the eyes [9b.].  A study examining balance and eye-movement exercises for people with Multiple Sclerosis (BEEMS) training showed improvements in postural sway, dizziness, fatigue, and quality of life in persons with MS [6a.]. Dr. Splichal demonstrates some exercises below that combine eye movement and balance.

There are the options of a central, bottom-up, or a top-down approach to balance.  A Cochrane review on exercise to improve balance suggests that functional exercise of any kind is the best approach to helping with fall prevention.  Exercises may be functional and balance-specific with resistance, though Tai Chi may also be effective [9a.].  Individuals that do not participate in any form of exercise are at a greater risk of falling, thus being at a greater risk of injury and even death.  Weak or unbalanced muscles can cause poor posture, increased spine pressure, chronic back pain, and injury. Exercise can improve balance, reduce falls, reduce risk of injury and improve quality of life and a sense of wellbeing.

Improved Proprioception and Body Awareness 

Proprioception is the ability to know where your body is in space. Proprioceptive receptors are found in muscles, tendons, and joints. The brain receives real-time information from the proprioceptive system [15]. Hence, people may easily move, alter their posture, and coordinate their movements. Walking, reaching, typing, dancing, athletics, and fine motor abilities all require proprioception [12]. This internal sense helps us avoid risks and maintain balance and stability, making it essential for injury avoidance and work efficiency.

Balancing exercises challenge and refineproprioception. Balance exercises activate muscle, tendon, and joint proprioceptors by placing the body in unstable situations or forcing weight distribution [7]. These exercises train the brain to record and respond to proprioceptive data, improving body awareness and control. Balance exercises promote coordination, agility, and physical performance in daily life, sports, and fitness [12]. Balance exercises can improve proprioception and movement, improving your body's natural feedback system.

Balance and targeted training improve coordination and reduce fall risk. First, balance exercises challenge and improve proprioception [15]. Balance exercises, including single-leg stands,balance boards, andstability balls, improve coordination [8]. Functional actions like walking on uneven ground or jumping over obstacles can also improve coordination. Strength training for the lower body and core will stabilize the body during movement,minimizing the risk of falling. Tai chi and yoga improve coordination and balance by increasing body awareness. Finally, a clutter-free, safe home reduces the danger of falls [2, 10]. These techniques increase body coordination and lessen the chance of falling, boosting confidence and independence in daily life.

Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation 

Balance exercises improve stability and coordination, reducing common injuries. These exercises develop the core and stabilizers, improving muscle power, posture, and alignment [15, 11]. Balance training improves proprioception, allowing people to react quickly to environmental changes and avoid slips, stumbles, and falls [10]. Balance exercises help athletes avoid twists, sprains, and ligament injuries by improving agility, reactivity, and balance. Balance exercises can helpsedentary people avoid injuries.

Balance exercise as part of rehabilitation can provide a safe and consistent recovery process. An injury can weaken and create imbalance within thestructures of a joint [7]. Balancing activities can strengthen these muscles without straining the damaged area. Balance exercises gradually help the body regain proprioception, bodily coordination, and stability, preventing subsequent injuries [11]. Balance exercises also boost confidence and motor control, which can aid those with injuries [15]. Individuals can adjust balancing exercises to their injury and recovery goals with aphysical therapist or rehabilitation professional. These exercises strengthen and stabilize the body, helping patients regain functionality and balance and can reduce the chance of re-injury.

Targeted workouts can repair musculoskeletal abnormalities by targeting weaknesses. Focusing on these vulnerable areas builds strength, stability, and flexibility, relieving strain on other body parts that may be compensating. Strengthening weak glutes can relieve lower back pain, and enhancing core strength can reduce the chance of falls and injuries [8]. Strength training, balancing exercises, and flexibility routines can help prevent injuries by targeting weak regions. By proactively strengthening weak regions, people can avoid injuries and live a more active and rewarding life. 

Better Athletic Performance 

Athletes' success depends on balance, agility, and sports performance. Sports require balance and agility. Athletes can avoid falls and execute precisely with good balance. Nevertheless, agility allows athletes to quickly shift directions and avoid obstacles. Balance exercises increase proprioception, bodily coordination, and agility on the field or court [7]. Balance improves agility in sports like soccer, basketball, and tennis that need quick direction changes. Balance exercises help athletes generate force and maintain good posture during explosive movements, improving their sports performance [15]. Hence, by maximizing the relationship between balance, agility, and sports performance, athletes can obtain a competitive edge and improve their performance.

Sports-specific balancing workouts can improve performance and reduce injury risk. Single-leg stance exercises promote stability throughout each stride for runners, while lateral movements improve agility for sports like soccer and basketball.Ladder and cone workouts can help volleyball players improve court movement. Balance exercises that emphasize impact stability can benefit martial artists. Plank workouts can help swimmers streamline. Gymnasts can use beam exercises for precision, and golfers can use balance exercises to replicate their swing. Balance exercises can help athletes developsport-specific skills, improve body coordination, and improve performance.

Balancing training improves athletes' performance and physical ability. Athletes can better control quick direction changes and complicated motions with improved balance and stability. Tennis, soccer, and basketball, where split-second judgments can decide a match, benefit from this advantage. Balance training helps athletes create greater force and transmit energy efficiently, allowing them to execute powerful motions with precision [15]. Athletes can maintain their training regimens and make more long-term improvements by lowering the danger of falls and injuries. Balance training increases proprioceptive awareness, helping athletes react swiftly and adapt to unusual competition scenarios. This improved body coordination can help players surpass their opponents and realize their full athletic potential.

Cognitive Benefits of Balance Exercises 

Physical and cognitive functioning have a complex interplay that affects health and wellbeing. Physical activity and exercise improve memory, attention, and problem-solving skills, as well as health. Physical activity boosts brain oxygen and nutrient flow, increasing neuronal and neural connection growth. Positive changes increase the brain's neuroplasticity, helping the brain adapt and learn. Exercise releases neurotransmitters and neurotrophic factors, which improve brain clarity and reduce stress. Cognitive functions help us plan, perform, and maintain physical activity [14]. The brain's executive function, decision-making, attention, and impulse control influence our ability to set fitness objectives, follow training plans, and stay disciplined during workouts. Hence, physical and cognitive functioning support and improve each other. An active lifestyle that combines physical and cognitive pursuits can increase physical fitness, mental sharpness, and quality of life.

Balancing exercises improve brain health by improving cognitive capacities. Balance training requires the brain to process and integrate proprioception, visual, and vestibular information. Neuroplasticity and cognitive improvement result from this increased brain processing demand [9]. Balance exercises boost memory, attention, problem-solving, and executive functions, including decision-making and multitasking, according to research [9]. Balance exercises can stimulate stress-reduction and emotional-regulation brain regions through mindfulness and focused concentration. Balance exercises promote cognition, helping us stay intellectually agile and resilient throughout life.

Balance exercises push our brains to integrate sensory input and coordinate movements, increasing neural connections and neuroplasticity. Brain activity increases memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. [10] Balance training also promotes stress reduction and improved emotional wellbeing through mindfulness and focused concentration [14]. Balance exercises reduce the risk of cognitive decline and help people adapt to age-related cognitive changes, according to research [9]. Balance exercise improves our balance and brain health, helping us to live a lively and mentally bright life as we age.

Enhanced Posture and Alignment 

Balance exercises activate and strengthen the core muscles, particularly the abdominals and back. Stronger cores support the spine and avoid slouching. Balance exercises also improve proprioception, body awareness, and mindful movement, which are essential for excellent posture [15]. Balance exercises strengthen postural muscles, helping people stand taller with their shoulders back and spine straight. This enhanced posture lowers chronic pain and strain and exudes confidence. Consequently, balance exercises improve posture and musculoskeletal health, improving beauty and wellbeing.

Targeted balance practices can change posture and musculoskeletal health. Muscle imbalances cause poor posture and alignment difficulties. Tailored balancing workouts engage specific muscle groups and align the body to correct these abnormalities. Strengthening the core and stabilizing muscles can help improve posture and posture-related muscles. Balance exercises stress the proprioceptive system, increasing body awareness and fostering mindful alignment during movement. Balance exercises can help patients improve their posture, reducing back pain and joint tension [15]. This proactive alignment correction can create a balanced, pain-free, and functioning body that supports everyday activities and improves physical health and confidence.

Maintaining musculoskeletal health and wellbeing requires addressing the posture-damaging consequences of sedentary lifestyles. Sitting or inactivity weakens the core and postural muscles, causing slouched shoulders, rounded backs, and forward head posture. Poor posture strains the spine, causingchronic back pain, neck stress, and other musculoskeletal disorders. Regular physical activity and specific workouts like balance and strength training can mitigate these effects. These exercises develop core and postural muscles to support the spine and improve posture. Walking,stretching, andtaking frequent breaks from sitting can also reduce stiffness and maintain muscle mobility. By taking a proactive approach to addressing the sedentary lifestyle's effects on posture, people can improve their musculoskeletal health, lower the risk of postural issues, and live a more active and pain-free life.

Stress Reduction and Wellbeing 

Balance exercises and stress reduction have a surprising synergy that can improve wellbeing. Balancing exercises, which frequently include mindfulness and concentrated concentration, help relax and clear the mind [3]. These activities help people focus and release their worries. Balance exercises boost the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing the body and lowering stress hormones. Balance training's meditative nature helps people relax and manage stress. Balance exercises can reduce stress, improve physical and mental health, and help people cope with life's problems.

Balance training can become a very enriching mind-body practice by adding mindfulness. Mindfulness means being totally present and non-judgmental of one's thoughts, sensations, and emotions in the moment. Balance exercises let people focus on their body, breath, and balance modifications. This awareness improves proprioception and physical coordination, improving balance and stability [10]. Mindfulness in balancing training helps people relax and connect with their bodies. Balance exercises relieve stress and improve mental health due to their contemplative nature [2]. Balance training can be transformed into a holistic exercise that promotes health, self-awareness, and harmony by incorporating mindfulness.

Balance exercises can improve your mind [2]. These exercises require full attention to the body's actions and sensations [10]. This heightened awareness helps people let go of distractions and problems, generating a contemplative and calming impact. Balance exercises boost the parasympathetic nervous system and induce calm. This reduces stress and calms the mind [10]. Balance training's repetition deepens relaxation and calms the mind. Balance exercises reduce anxiety and mental tiredness by improving attention and concentration. Balance exercises can help people find inner peace and relax.

Suitable Balance Exercises for Different Fitness Levels 

There are many beginner-friendly balance exercises for fitness newbies. When balance improves, people can stand on one leg for a few seconds.

Heel-to-toe walking, like tightrope walking, is another simple exercise that requires stability and coordination [15].

Sitting on an exercise ball with flat feet and activating the core is the seated balancing exercise.

The wall push-up is a good, low-impact option for people who prefer it. The beginner-friendly yoga tree posture requires balancing on one leg with the other foot against the inner thigh. These easy balance exercises help novices gain confidence and stability over time. Starting gently and listening to one's body is key to a safe and joyful journey to balance and wellbeing.

Intermediate and advanced balance exercises challenge coordination and stability. The single-leg deadlift involves balancing on one leg and reaching the other hand to the ground. Planks with leg lifts require more core strength and balance [7]. Experienced trainers might use abalance pad orbalancing board to provide instability and dynamic movement.

Single leg plank with extreme balance board

The pistol squat requires great balance and lower body strength.

pistol squat

The advanced yoga crow position balances on the hands with the knees on the elbows. These exercises are appropriate for advanced balance training since they demand more proprioceptive control, body awareness, and muscular strength [7]. Nonetheless, safety and appropriate technique are key to success and preventing injury; therefore, it is important to move gradually and master the foundational exercises before trying more advanced variations.

Adapting balance exercises for people with various constraints is a compassionate and inclusive way to make balance training accessible to everyone. Sitting on a firm platform, seated balance exercises can help those with mobility issues or lower body weakness focus on core and upper body stability [12]. Standing balancing exercises can be made more secure for people with joint or balance impairments by holding onto a chair or wall. To gain confidence before single-leg balance exercises, try balancing on both feet [7]. Auditory or tactile clues can help vision-impaired people balance. Balance exercises can also be tailored to each person's comfort level. Customized balance exercises can increase stability, coordination, and wellbeing while supporting and empowering fitness journeys.  General strength and balance training are both beneficial for fall prevention.

Conclusion 

Balancing exercises provide many physical and mental benefits. First, they strengthen the core and stabilize muscles, improving posture and reducing back pain. Balance training also improves proprioception, coordination, and falls and injuries. Agility and sports performance can help athletes compete. Balance exercises improve memory, concentration, and cognition. They also help avoid and recover from injuries. Balance exercises relieve tension and relax through promoting mindfulness. Finally, balancing training can be adapted for people with disabilities, making it accessible to everyone. Balance exercises are a holistic way to improve life and wellbeing.

Balance exercises can alter your mental and physical health. It improves core strength, body coordination, injury risk, and cognition, making it a great fitness complement. Balance exercises can improve your health and performance, whether you're an athlete or not. Challenge yourself with these exercises. Start small, progress slowly, and be consistent. Balanced exercise boosts stability, posture, confidence, and inner calm. 

Balance exercises can help you attain your best potential on and off the mat as you develop and change. Balanced exercise improves general health. Balance exercises build strength, stability, and body awareness. Strengthening the core and stabilizing muscles improves posture, reduces back pain, and lowers injury risk. Coordination and agility improve sports and daily performance, enhancing confidence, reducing falls, and improving self-esteem. Improved memory, attention, and stress reduction also sharpen and strengthen the mind. Balance training reveals the body's plasticity and resilience, leading to a more balanced life. Balance training is a joyful and ongoing process that empowers people to overcome physical problems and achieve equilibrium in their bodies and lives.

Resources for Fall Prevention

For further information on current statistics, balance training, and fall prevention, here are some resources.



References

Attia, P., & Lewis, B. (YouTube). (2023). How and why to train balance with eyes closed. [Online video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8zKayyvdQE

[1.] Balance Exercise (2018) Retrieved July 25, 2023, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/balance-exercise

[2.] The body and Brain Are Crucial for Good balance. Harvard Health (2021, June 18) Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/body-and-brain-are-crucial-to-good-balance

[3.] Brabaw. (2021, October 7). How Balance Training Impacts Brain Health | Well+Good Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.wellandgood.com/balance-training-and-brain-health/

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[5.] Edwards, D. (2019, August 19). 8 Benefits of Balance Training Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.primalplay.com/blog/8-benefits-of-balance-exercises

[6.] Feytag (2022, October 5). 5 Balance Exercises to Boost Stability and Performance Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.verywellfit.com/exercises-for-better-balance-3498203

[6a.] Hebert, J. R., Corboy, J. R., Vollmer, T., Forster, J. E., & Schenkman, M. (2018). Efficacy of Balance and Eye-Movement Exercises for Persons With Multiple Sclerosis (BEEMS).Neurology,90(9), e797–e807. https://doi.org/10.1212/wnl.0000000000005013

[7.] Minnis. (2021). Proprioception Exercises for Better Balance and Body Awareness Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness/proprioception-exercises

[7a.] Moreno-Barriga, O. S., Romero-Morales, C., Becerro-de-Bengoa-Vallejo, R., Losa-Iglesias, M. E., Gómez-Salgado, J., Caballero-López, J., Vidal-Valverde, L. C., et al. (2023). Effects of Foot Structure Type on Core Stability in University Athletes. Life, 13(7), 1487. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/life13071487 

[8.] Richey. (2022). Core Stability Exercises: Targeting Progressive Core Training Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://blog.nasm.org/progressive-core-training

[9.] Schedler, S., Tenelsen, F., Wich, L., & Muehlbauer, T. (2020). Effects of balance training on balance performance in youth: the role of training difficultyBMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation,12(1) https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-020-00218-4

[9a.] Sherrington, C., Fairhall, N., Wallbank, G., Tiedemann, A., Michaleff, Z. A., Howard, K.,  . Lamb, S. (2020). Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community: an abridged Cochrane systematic review.British Journal of Sports Medicine,54(15), 885–891.https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2019-101512 

[9b.] Splichal. (2021, April 19). Balance & the Basal Ganglia | The Power of Eye Movement Exercises. Retrieved October 28, 2023, from https://barefootstrongblog.com/2021/04/19/balance-the-basal-ganglia-the-power-of-eye-movement-exercises/ 

[10.] Stutzman. (2021, August 8). Fall Prevention: Balance and Strength Exercises for Older Adults Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/fall-prevention-exercises

[11.] The Connection Between Core Strength and Better Balance Kinetix Physical Therapy (2019, February 20). Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://kinetixpt.com/the-connection-between-core-strength-and-better-balance/

[12.] The Importance of Balance and How to Improve It, WPH Physio. (2021) Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://wphphysio.com.au/sports-physiotherapy-treatment/importance-balanced/

[13.] The Key to Good Health: Balance and Injury Prevention | OSR Physical Therapy (2018, July 20). Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.osrpt.com/2018/07/balance-and-injury-prevention/

[13a.] Vestergom. (2023). Balance Training Tips. Silver Magazine.

[14.] Village (2021, April 5). What Are the Benefits of Balance Training? Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://bethanylutheranvillage.org/what-are-the-benefits-of-balance-training/

[15.] Why Is Balance Training so Important? (2023). Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://body-works.ca/

[16.] Williams (2018, June 18). Simple Exercises to Restore Proprioception. Retrieved July 20, 2023, from https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/general-injuries/simple-exercises-restore-proprioception