Staying steady and stable requires strength and endurance. These combo moves boost both!
“How often do you stand still on one leg? Not very often,” says SilverSneakers Master Trainer Andi Kwapien.
“But walking is actually a single-leg activity as you move from one foot to the other,” she continues. “You rely on single-leg strength to keep you steady and to catch yourself if you start to fall.”
In fact, we rely on our balance all day in ways we don’t even realize. Think about unloading the dishwasher, bringing the mail inside, going for a walk and spotting a cardinal in a tree. All of those movements require the ability to stay steady while moving and pivoting.
It’s what Andi calls active balance.
This workout combines balance with movement at various speeds to improve muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance — both of which factor into our ability to move through our daily lives without fear of falling.
That’s because preventing falls is key to staying healthy and independent as we age: One out of five falls cause serious injuries or broken bones in people 65 and over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And falling once doubles your chance of falling again.
Balance training is part of every SilverSneakers group fitness class! Check your eligibility and find participating fitness locations near you here.
Why Movement Is Important to Balance Training
Balance is more than the ability to stay on your feet. In fact, there are different types of balance.
Static balance is being able to hold a position and recover as you feel yourself start to sway, explains Andi, while dynamic balance is being able to recover when you’ve thrown your center of gravity off.
Active balance training combines both to counteract age-related changes that contribute to feeling wobbly. It’s the same principle behind tai chi, the ancient Chinese movement practice, which has been shown to reduce the risk of falls in older adults by as much as 50 percent.
“Active balance is a very practical skill to train,” says Andi, who created this 10-Minute Active Balance Workout.
Combining dynamic balance training with the coordination moves like the quick side steps in this video improves whole-body health, according to research presented in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. The study showed an active balance workout helped boost balance, cognitive functioning, and quality of life in older adults who lived independently.
How to Use the 10-Minute Active Balance Workout
The National Institute on Aging recommends older adults combine balance training with aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise 2–3 times per week.
This 10-minute active balance workout includes forward, backward, and side-to-side moves at various speeds—slow and fast.
“Because that’s how we move in life,” Andi says.
What’s more, the moves in this workout help improve stamina. With better endurance, you’re able to go for longer walks and keep up with the grandkids without worrying about falling.
“When you’re tired, it’s harder to hold your balance,” Andi explains. “When we improve our cardiorespiratory fitness, it helps our balance because we don’t tire out.”
For this workout, all you need are comfortable sneakers, open floor space, and water to stay hydrated. If you’d like support during any of the exercises, set up near a wall.
As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than your regular SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.
Ready to improve your active balance? Just press play and follow Andi’s lead!
Bonus Challenge: Try a SilverSneakers EnerChi Class!
In this beginner-friendly workout, you’ll perform modified tai chi movements in a slow, flowing sequence to progress balance and focus. It’s offered both in-person at participating fitness locations and online with SilverSneakers LIVE.
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