Integrating Balance Exercise

Balance Activity = Healthing Out

I created this week's video about a month ago, just to highlight one of the ways that we integrate balance training at HealthOut.  Just this past week, I was checking to see what is new in Cochrane reviews and low and behold there is a new review on the benefits of balance training for preventing falls.  What I found interesting was how the benefits of balance training (in people >65) were enhanced when they were integrated with a more robust training regime that included strength training of a functional nature - AKA Healthing Out. 

Balance Activity Works

  • Prevent Falls

    • Much of the literature around balance training is around preventing falls in the elderly (>65) - and it works.

  • Prevent Injury

    • Balancing on one foot is a great way to prevent ankle sprains. 

  • Decrease Pain

    • Balancing biases the small muscles in the body that protect your joints

  • Stimulate Metabolism

    • Balancing sometimes causes more muscles in the body to be activated, which in turn leads to more metabolic activity when exercising. 

  • Better function for everyday

    • I love putting on my socks with ease, while balancing on one foot.

  • Improved performance for sport

    • Want to ski better or improve your short game for golf?  Train balance.

  • Prevention of embarrassment

    • Going for a hike with someone you want to impress?  Don't end up cold and covered in mud for the car ride home :). 

Where does Balance come From?

Balance can be thought of as coming from 3 different systems:

  1. Eye Sight

    • Your vision constitutes roughly 80% of your balance.  Close your eyes and see how much more challenging a balancing activity is without your sight.

  2. Proprioception

    • You have mechanical receptors in your limbs that feed your nervous system with information about where you body is.  10% of your balance comes from this 'feeling' system, and closing your eyes is a great way to improve this ability.

  3. Vestibular

    • This system is complicated - it involves both your inner ear and your brain, and it is the system that is often affected when someone gets a concussion.  Targeting this system usually involves very precise movements of the eyes and/ or small movements of the head while balancing.

So, by integrating simple activities that involve not only balancing on something unstable, but also integrating hand-eye coordination and tracking of the head in different planes, you are maximizing your efforts to improve balance.

Integrating Balance

Here are some tips to integrate balance into your daily and exercise routines.  Always make sure you choose the right level of challenge and that you are free from any obstacles you can fall onto:

  • Balance on one foot

    • Take exercises you would normally do at the gym, and do them on one foot instead.  At HealthOut, we do the single leg deadlift, single leg squats, and many other full body activities like shoulder exercises or bicep curls and make them more interesting and challenging by integrating balance. 

    • Waiting for the bus?  Stand on one foot and practice moving your head or eyes to watch cars go by.

  • Close your eyes

    • Balance on one foot with your eyes closed every day at home for 1-2 minutes per foot.  Want to make it even more challenging?  Put a pillow under your foot.

  • Use Toys and Play

    • Playing sports is great for balance.  If you are working out, integrate balance devices like balance boards, toss balls with a partner, or do ladder drills and other activities that involve coordination. 

  • Challenge yourself in multiple planes

    • Use cable resistance from the side, rotational movements, or full body movements in which you are holding weights in one hand only - these are ways to load your body in an uneven way to cause you to balance more.

  • Don't just sit there for your rest periods, balance!

    • At HealthOut, we often integrate balance during your rest periods to make the most of your time, especially for training periods in which larger rest periods are required. 

Balance at HealthOut

Every HealthOut has balance training - come to HealthOut 2-3 times per week and you have checked your recommended balance/ week off your list. 

See you at HealthOut!

Dr. Ryan Oughtred, ND

- HealthOut is an Exercise and Lifestyle Clinic located in Downtown Vancouver. It looks like a Gym but it is more thoughtful and professional, promoting your health and helping you reach your goals in the safest most effective way.