Whether you’re stepping off a curb, picking up that pen you dropped on the floor, or simply twisting your body to navigate close quarters in a store, you’re using muscles. And if your muscles — and balance — aren’t performing like they should, the tiniest wrong move could result in an injury or fall.
Doing simple strengthening exercises can have a big impact on your ability to do daily tasks, while helping to build muscle and reducing chronic disease symptoms. But adding exercises to your routine that also focus on balance, coordination and alignment can have even more benefits.
Here are 3 easy strength and balance exercises to add to your daily routine.
1. Stepping Over the Suitcase
This exercise incorporates movements that focus on strength, balance and coordination. (And there are no actual suitcases involved.)
How to do it: Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Moving slowly, lift your knees high and your right foot up, to the side and down — as if you’re stepping over an imaginary suitcase. Repeat this movement 10 times on your right side, then switch to your left and repeat 10 times.
2. Reach Down and High
This movement helps with coordination and can be used anytime you need to reach up high or bend down to pick something up.
How to do it: While standing, place one foot behind the other, bend both knees and reach down to pick up something off the floor. Then, reach high to place something on a shelf or in a cupboard.
The one foot in front and one foot in back stance helps you maintain your balance and makes it easy to catch yourself if you fall.
3. Strike a Pose
You don’t have to be Madonna to try this one. This movement is only limited by your imagination.
How to do it: Sitting or standing, do 10 sharp, big freestyle movements in different directions (anything you want). Move with expression and have fun.
Don’t Forget About Posture
While the above exercises can help keep you active and healthy, proper posture is another way to improve balance and strength. But having proper posture isn’t necessarily “standing up straight.”
Try these easy tips to assess and adjust your posture:
Know good posture: This doesn’t mean standing up straight with your chest pulled in and up and your head pulled back. Instead, while standing, make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both feet. You might feel like you’re leaning, but you’re not.
Use a mirror for alignment: Proper bodily alignment means your ears are above your shoulders and your shoulders are above your hips in a straight line. Stand sideways or sit in front of a full-length mirror and see how these areas are aligned.
It’s important to keep in mind that while the areas are aligned in a straight line, that doesn’t mean your spine has to be straight. You should still maintain the natural curves at the base of your head and base of your spine.
You don’t have to hit the gym or invest large amounts of time in an exercise routine to reap the benefits. These simple additions to your day — and tweaks to your posture — can have you moving with ease.