Balance Training

The three main components of a well balanced exercise program are aerobic or cardiovascular work, strength training, and flexibility. Those are the basics but there are certainly other elements you can add to enhance your overall fitness and health. Balance training is one of those add-ons worth considering.

Balance and coordination can indeed be improved and are very important. They are often gradually lost with age as well as certain injuries and medical conditions. Work on your balance and you will not only improve your sports and athletic performance, but also lessen your chance of falls-something especially important with advancing age, especially women with osteoporosis who are prone to fractures.

To improve your balance, try the following. Put your arms out to your side (like a "T") and balance on one foot. Close your eyes and try to hold for 20-30 seconds. If this gets too easy try it on the ball of your foot, or on a small pillow. Try doing this on each foot. The yoga "tree pose" is also terrific for balance.

There are also commercially available devices like the "wobble board" or "bosu trainer" that allow you to work on balance, coordination and proprioception (that fine tune coordination mechanism in your joints that sometimes does not function optimally). Proprioception is especially important in the rehabilitation and prevention of many lower extremity injuries.

Fun ways to achieve great balance, and get a terrific work-out include Tai Chi, martial arts and ballet. It's never too early or too late to work on this important area. Give balance training a try and you'll see a big difference-in sport and in life.