by Dr. Karen Wonders

I have a new hobby. And as a self-proclaimed “I’m-too-busy-for-hobbies” person, this is a big deal in my life. A few months ago, I felt like I needed a change of scenery for my daily workouts. So I went on my very first trail run.

I’m not what you would call “outdoorsy”.  I don’t like bugs. I’m scared to death of snakes. I once called the actual police because there was a bird stuck in my house. Why I thought trail running would be a good idea is beyond me.

But, as it turns out, I loved every minute of it!!!

Maybe because I spent so much time dodging rocks and tree roots and looking out for bears, I didn’t notice the physical exertion…who knows! After my first trail run, I was hooked!

This new hobby of mine has highlighted the importance of balance. I am very keenly aware that if I have one slip-up, I’m toast. 

Maybe you’ve never tried trail running – that’s okay. Balance still matters to you, too! 

Balance is simply the ability to control your body’s position, whether you are stationary or while moving. It is a key component of fitness that you shouldn’t ignore. Here are just a few benefits to incorporating balance training into your workout:

1)      Body Awareness – Body awareness is the sense of how your limbs are oriented in space. The main benefit of this is that it reduces your risk of injury!

2)      Coordination – Balance training requires your entire body to work together, keeping you from falling or stumbling. Improved coordination during balance training will be transferred into coordination in everyday life.

3)      Joint Stability – Balance training promotes stables knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. This can prevent a large array of injuries including sprained ankles and serious knee problems.

4)      Reaction Time – Balance training can improve your reaction time. If you happen to slip or stumble when performing balance exercises, your body needs to re-balance immediately or you will fall. This in turn will improve your reaction time in everyday life!

5)      Long-term health– Incorporating balance training into your exercise routine helps to maintain or improve your balance, which is needed to prevent falls and fractures. As we age, our balance can deteriorate, something we want to avoid.

Incorporating balance exercises into your daily routine doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are a few examples of balance exercises:

  • Shifting your weight from side-to-side
  • Standing on one foot (if this is a challenge, use a sturdy chair for support)
  • Walking heel to toe
  • Using a balance board or stability ball
  • Do tai chi, yoga, or Pilates. 

For more help with balance exercises, check out our free give away this month! And let me know if you want to join me for a trail run