Staying in Balance

Staying in Balance

August 16, 2022

We here at GTS Financial are big proponents of living a balanced life, and that should extend to your physical balance!

According to Dr. Adam M Cramer, a physical therapist and balance specialist, "Everything we do relies heavily on our ability to balance, yet maintaining physical balance skills is one of the most underrated aspects of well-being and one of the easiest to improve upon."1

Whether you are sitting upright in a chair, walking, riding a bike, or floating on a paddle board, physical balance will only improve your experiences of daily life and help keep you safe.

No matter your age, read on for the 3 main reasons to prioritize balance (can it actually make you smarter?!), and tips on how to get started on improving your balance.

Injury Prevention

Whether you are a world-class athlete or a grandparent on the go, improving your balance is essential for staying healthy. For athletes, regular balance work can help you be more efficient in your movement and decrease your risk of an ankle sprain by nearly 40% and keep you enjoying the activities you love.2

For people aged 65 and older, improved balance could prevent a fall, which is the cause of over 90% of hip fractures.2 Falls cost our healthcare system an estimated $500 million per year,1 not to mention the potential for life-altering (or even life-span shortening!) costs associated with a bad fall for an individual and their family.

Performance Enhancement

Having good muscle control and coordination reduces the energy demand on your body to complete all sorts of physical tasks.1 Beyond injury prevention, this can translate to improved agility, quicker reaction times, and endurance for athletes and non-athletes alike.11 Whether your aim is to contribute more to your recreational soccer team or forgo the use of a cane on short trips, improved balance is the path to take you there.

Full-Body (and Brain!) Benefits

When you practice balancing, you are awakening muscles from your head to your toes to work in coordination with each other. Learning (or re-learning) how to use your muscles synergistically can help improve you posture and even reduce your chances of dealing with long-term health consequences such as arthritis and back pain.2

Balance exercises can help improve your bone density, circulation, and even your brain functioning.That's right, in a study involving elderly women with concerns of memory problems and confusion, incorporating balance training into their program resulted in significant cognitive function improvements!2

How To Get Started

It is important to take into consideration your personal comfort-level with balancing and find tasks that provide a realistic challenge for you. Whether you're a 'beginner' or an 'expert', aim to perform your balancing exercises for periods of 30 seconds to 1 minute, and repeating each exercise 3 to 5 times. Make sure you practice on both legs equally.2

Balance for Beginners

Start by balancing on two legs, on a stable surface, and within reach of something sturdy for support. As you improve, you can choose to rely less on your support, moving your feet closer together, closing your eyes, and perhaps eventually balancing on just one leg at a time.  

Balance for Experts

Start by balancing on one leg, and then progress towards more challenging variations such as closing your eyes, hopping on one foot, playing catch with a partner while standing on one foot, or standing on more uneven surfaces. You can even incorporate more balance practice into your strength training with single-leg squats, and lifting dumbbells over your head while standing on one foot. The possibilities are endless, so have fun with it!2