Can you hop on one foot, walk on a beam, or sit on a ball without toppling over? These exercises may sound like child’s play, but they’re actually sophisticated movements that improve physical balance—a skill that’s essential as you move into adulthood. Balance is a beautiful, often practiced harmony between your brain and your muscles. It keeps you strong during exercise and daily activities, while guarding against hazardous falls. Here’s how to practice and improve your balance, and why it’s so important for maintaining good physical health.
Why Good Balance Is So Important
Balance might not have the mainstream cachet of flat abdominals or a six-minute mile, but it’s remarkable all the same: the result of your brain, eyes, sense of touch, inner ears, and every joint and muscle in your body working in concert. Great balance facilitates great posture, whether you’re sitting still, exercising, or lifting heavy objects. When you’re balanced, your left and right sides—and front and back—are all exerting equal effort. No one part of the body is overcompensating for another, and because of this “you suffer from fewer aches and pains,” says Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City, and the author of several fitness guide books. Whether you spend your free time doing Pilates, taking ballroom-dancing classes, or gardening, balance helps you do it better.
Excerpted from Real Simple