Balance is essential at any level of fitness and age. From helping you walk and run normally to preventing the risks of falling, balance plays an important role in regular life.
Balance exercises, meanwhile, can help improve your walking and boost your overall health. By including some balance exercises in your walks, you can train your body to better maintain its agility and balance when you have to make quick moves or respond to slipping and tripping.
Regular balance workouts are a must for everyone, especially for seniors, as they are more prone to falling. However, people of all ages and fitness levels should consider adding balance training to their daily walking routine to improve their overall health, posture, flexibility and most importantly, balance.
On that note, here are some fun and effective ways to include a few balance exercises in your everyday walks:
1) Balance walk
This balance exercise provides a great level of challenge, as it includes a pause while requiring you to be on a single foot throughout the walk.
To perform it:
- Start by standing straight. Keep your arms at your sides at your shoulder height.
- Keep your gaze at a spot a few feet away from you. Make sure to keep your chin up throughout the exercise. Do not look down.
- Now as you begin to walk, lift your back leg and keep it forward. Pause for a second with your knee raised up before lowering it down to the ground.
- Do the same with your other leg. Bring it forward, and hold the position with your knee up before putting that foot in front of you.
- Repeat at least 20 steps.
2) Heel to toe walk
Heel-to-toe walking is one of the basic balance exercises you can do both outdoors or indoors.
To do it:
- Stand, and stretch your arms from your sides to maintain a steady balance.
- Make sure to keep your chin up so that it is parallel to the ground. Keep your gaze forward.
- Now take a step by placing the heel of your right foot in front of the toe of your left.
- Walk in a straight line, and feel your body swaying from side to side.
- Take at least 20 to 30 heels-to-toe steps.
3) Standing on one foot walk
This is a single leg balance exercise recommended for all fitness levels.
To do it:
- Stand near a pole or a wall so that you can place your hand on it for stability.
- Lift one leg, and try to balance yourself for a few seconds.
- Once you can balance yourself for a minute, do it with your eyes closed.
4) Backward walk
Walking backwards is quite challenging. It is best to do it with a friend to avoid any tripping hazards.
To do it:
- Select a place away from traffic and street crossing.
- Turn around.
- Start to walk in a straight line.
- Take a few steps ahead in the backward direction, and return to the forward position.
5) Zigzag walk
A zigzag walk can be done by walking in the figure ''8 around two points that are approximately six or seven feet apart. Or you may simply do it by zig sagging forth and back.
To do it:
- On a safe sidewalk, start to walk two steps angling to one side, and switch to angling for four steps towards the opposite side.
- Repeat the move several times.
- The zigzag walk is a good technique to use when walking downhill or making short switchbacks.
6) Side steps
Side steps are a good technique that can help build your balance and agility while you move sideways.
To do it:
- Start to walk. Step sideways with your outer foot, and bring your other foot to meet it.
- Now take four steps right and then four steps back to the left.
- Repeat several times, and make sure to keep your eyes forward.
- Also, keep your head facing towards the direction of movement.
- Continue to sidestep in your original direction by leading with your forward foot and bringing your back foot to meet it.
- Repeat for at least ten steps, and turn to switch legs. Continue again.
Adding the above-mentioned balance exercises to your everyday walks will help ensure you achieve two major components of fitness activities, i.e. balance exercise and cardiovascular exercise.
Moreover, if you want other activities to help improve your overall balance, you may try considering tai chi or yoga.