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In Search of Balance

balance boardStrength. Aerobics. Flexibility. Balance.

If you read any articles on physical fitness, attend any fitness classes, or watch any shows on TV about fitness, you’ve undoubtedly heard how we need to work on all of these aspects of fitness.  Focusing on one isn’t enough.

I’ve always been flexible, and yoga practice has simply enhanced that. I long ago gave up my attempts to run for aerobic exercise, but am very fond of walking, so that one has been easy for me to do, either outdoors (a definite preference) or on a treadmill when the weather turns chilly. And as for strength training, while I’m still pretty puny, I’ve worked hard to increase the amount of weight I use for various arm strengthening exercises. But balance? It continues to be a struggle. However, thanks to professional help, that aspect of fitness is looking a bit more promising for me.

After knee surgery a few months ago my surgeon recommended that I begin physical therapy. The therapists initially worked on rebuilding strength in that leg as well as stretching out various things (most notably the dreaded IT band). We’re still working on on all of those, but a few sessions ago they also began working on my balance. I’m not sure exactly what the connection is between balance and my knee injury, but I’m not arguing. I clearly need help.

So now several times a day I do some simple balance exercises that primarily involve standing on one leg doing various things. One that reminds me of juggling is passing a small ball (or can of soup) from hand to hand around my body while standing on one leg. After doing it 20 times clockwise and 20 times counter-clockwise I get to switch legs. I find myself concentrating so much on passing the object around my body that the balance part isn’t too hard. Much harder for me is simply standing still for two minutes on one leg; there’s a lot of wobbling going on with that one. And my therapist has indicated that we’ll gradually increase the time on that one.

But my favorite balance exercises, and ones I currently can’t do at home, involve various balance boards at the therapy center. Have you ever tried using a balance board? For me, it’s a real challenge. But I also find it rather fun. Trying to keep the board stable, or moving it in a controlled manner, is a lot of work but is more interesting than standing on one leg for two minutes. I’m planning on buying a board for my home to keep up with these exercises on a more consistent basis.

Do you have issues with balance? Do you work on it? If so, any favorite exercises or tips you’d like to share?


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