Culturally, we talk a lot about balance in the metaphorical sense. How do we balance our careers and our families? Our needs and those of others? Our budgets?
Let’s talk about balance in the literal sense. The statistics are pretty grim on mortality following hip fractures, many of which are caused by falls. For many of us, the difference between living independently into our old age and living in a nursing home will come down to whether or not we can maintain enough balance and strength to use the bathroom by ourselves. In a more immediate way, good balance can keep us from turning our ankles, torquing our knees, and throwing out our backs.
It isn’t hard to work on balance. I suggest brushing teeth while standing on one leg. Waiting in line is also a great place to practice. If you don’t embarrass easily, you can pretend the lines on the sidewalk are tightropes or you can return your books to the library on the top of your head. Those are just regular life examples.
In workouts, we can improve balance by doing exercises on stability balls or BOSU balls (those things that look like half a stability ball, or maybe a turtle). We can do single leg squats and deadlifts. We can play one-legged catch. And, of course, we can work on our core musculature.