How to Maintain and Improve Physical Balance


How to Maintain and Improve Physical Balance

There are a lot of ways we try to maintain balance in our lives—work/life balance, a balanced checkbook, a diet that has the right balance of macronutrients, and more. Even with all this focus on maintaining proper balance, many of us overlook an essential element in our lives: physical balance. Even those of us who work out regularly to build our cardio and muscle strength often don’t spend enough time maintaining balance. This is a mistake and it becomes even more essential to pay attention to maintaining and improving our balance as we age.

Why is Balance Important?

When you’re able to stay in control of your body’s movements even when you’re on unstable ground it will help you prevent injuries. Better balance helps you maintain agility as you’re going about everyday activities whether you’re walking up the stairs with a laundry basket, tripping over toys, or running down the sidewalk and then onto the grass. You will be able to respond and react quickly and not sustain an injury if you have good balance. Balance is important throughout all stages of life from the wobbly toddler learning how to walk to the senior citizen who wants to remain active and prevent falls and broken bones.

What Influences Balance?

It’s important to stay active to maintain your balance. Your body relies on these systems for balance:

  • Vision: Eyesight is the most used sense for most people and it helps the brain understand movement. Eyes provide critical input regarding your environment including space, orientation, the stability of surfaces you’re standing on, and your relationship to objects in the area.  
  • Vestibular: Your inner ear and the network called the vestibular system is where your body can sense an imbalance.  
  • Proprioception: Your feet and joints give feedback regarding what type of surface you’re trying to traverse. If you sense imbalance, signals are quickly sent from your brain to your body to get you back in balance. The more you work on balance, the more you challenge your balance the more proprioception improves.

When vision, hearing, and muscle strength deteriorate as we age, this can impact balance. There are also health conditions such as menopause and medications that can make you less stable. Deep breathing to get oxygen to your brain and proper musculoskeletal alignment are also essential for good balance.

How to Improve Balance

Balance is a “use it or lose it” ability, but the good news is that balance can be improved. And, as you age, you’ll need to improve your balance just to maintain normal activity. Here are some ideas to improve balance:

  • Practice standing on one foot whenever you can. After you master balance on one leg, make it more difficult by moving your arms around. Then, try to balance on one foot will bending over to pick something up. Don’t shift your weight to one side, rather lift your weight off of one leg. To make it more challenging, close your eyes.
  • Make the surface underneath you less stable to engage your balance. You can do this by standing on a towel or a yoga mat or a balance ball.
  • Take a yoga,  pilates, tai chi, or functional fitness class to work on core strength and stability.
  • Doing traditional squats and lunges builds strength in your legs and activates the core—essential for proper balance.
  • Mix up your workouts. Use balance tools when working out such as doing push-ups on an exercise ball.
  • Walk heel to toe for 20 steps and then back in a straight line.
  • Sleep deprivation slows reaction time, so be sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep at night.


Our Favorite Tool for Improving Balance: The OOV

At Taylor Pilates and Fitness, we use the  OOV, an apparatus designed to train balance in all planes of movement. The OOV’s unique shape and material create an unstable environment that requires the body to constantly adjust to find center/equilibrium. Since the OOV provides a ton of feedback to the user’s nervous system, it’s very effective at improving balance in the moment and long term. We offer individual, duet, and group classes for all fitness levels on the OOV. There is no experience necessary. Check out the video on our OOV page to see the OOV in action.

Our mission at Taylor Pilates and Fitness is to help you move well, feel well, and live well so that you always take part in the activities you enjoy.

If you want to improve your balance and overall fitness, we invite you to call or text Taylor Pilates and Fitness at 303-472-6743 to schedule your introductory session.