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Keeping your fitness in balance

Keeping your fitness in balance

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OK, so you probably know about the importance of strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance. But what about balance?

Balance is an often neglected component of fitness, and can be defined as the ability to maintain your body in proper equilibrium. This is important while standing (static balance), and during movement (dynamic balance).

Good balance can help to prevent fall related injuries while you run, or during sporting activities. It can also improve your running efficiency on uneven surfaces, and may even boost your overall performance.

Balance involves the integration of several body systems including your muscles, nerve receptors, vision and the inner ear. Your body uses information from all these systems to sense where it is in space and makes adjustments to hold the ideal posture or movement pattern.

There are training strategies you can adopt to improve balance in the same way you can train to improve the other aspects of fitness. Following are some training tips to maintain and develop better balance.

  • Get stronger – Stronger muscles allow your body to better correct itself and can increase a person's balance
  • Stretch – Improving flexibility decreases resistance to movement around your joints and contributes to better balance. The movements practiced in yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi are ideal
  • Develop your core – A stronger core will help stabilize the body, which is the centre of all movement
  • Use rubber – Exercise using an unstable training environment helps to develop balance. Include fit balls, Bosu balls (half balls), rubber resistance bands and other rubber training aids to engage more core and stabilising muscles during movement
  • Build on what you already do - Integrate balance training into your existing workouts. For example, you can perform standing strength training exercises on one leg
Do you include balance training as part of your fitness routine?