Balance: Test, Trainings and Exercises

Balance exercises are a type of physical activity designed to improve equilibrium, coordination, and stability. They aim to strengthen the muscles that help keep you upright, including your legs and core. These exercises are crucial for enhancing performance in various sports and everyday activities, as they not only improve your ability to control your body’s position, but they also reduce the risk of falls and related injuries, particularly in older adults. From simple standing on one foot to complex sequences like Tai Chi, balance exercises can vary significantly in intensity and complexity.

These exercises also target and strengthen the vestibular system, which plays a vital role in maintaining balance. This system includes parts of the inner ear and brain that process sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. When people think about fitness, they often focus on cardiovascular health and strength training. However, balance exercises offer unique benefits and play a vital role in comprehensive fitness regimes.

What are Balance Exercises?

Balance exercise, as the term suggests, are physical activities designed to strengthen the muscles that help keep a person upright, including the legs and core. These exercises can improve stability and help prevent falls. A strong sense of balance can also aid in better coordination, joint stability, and muscle health, all of which are crucial for performing daily activities seamlessly and staying physically active.

How Does Balancing Work?

Balance is a fundamental aspect of our physiology that allows us to maintain our center of gravity and stay upright, whether we’re in motion or stationary. Balancing involves a complex interplay of sensory systems, including the vestibular system (responsible for spatial orientation and equilibrium), the visual system (which gives us a frame of reference for our surroundings), and the proprioceptive system (which provides us with a sense of the position and movement of our body parts).

How Does Balancing Work
How Does Balancing Work?

When you perform a balance exercise, your brain constantly communicates with these sensory systems and your muscles to adjust your body’s position and prevent you from falling. As you become more adept at balance exercises, your body becomes more efficient at this communication process, improving your overall balance. For example, if you’re standing on one foot, your brain is continuously receiving information about your body’s slight shifts and movements, and it’s responding by contracting and relaxing various muscles to keep you upright. This intricate process underscores the importance of balance exercises in strengthening these connections and enhancing your ability to maintain equilibrium.

What is the Importance of Balance Exercise?

Balance exercises offer a multitude of benefits that extend beyond the physical. In terms of physical benefits, they help improve overall fitness, increase strength, enhance agility and coordination, reduce the risk of falls in older adults, and can even alleviate certain forms of dizziness.

From a broader perspective, balance exercises can significantly improve quality of life. Improved balance leads to better posture, which can help alleviate common issues like back pain. Enhanced agility and coordination can improve performance in various physical activities, from sports to everyday tasks. Moreover, balance training often requires a level of mindfulness, as one needs to be acutely aware of their body’s position and movements. This can have a meditative effect, helping to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.

In the context of an aging population, balance exercises are crucial for maintaining independence and reducing the risk of falls. Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults and can significantly impact their health and quality of life. By incorporating balance exercises into regular fitness routines, older adults can significantly improve their stability and reduce the likelihood of falls. In essence, balance exercises are not just good exercises; they are essential for overall health and well-being.

How is Balance Tested?

Several methodologies exist for testing a person’s balance capabilities. These can range from simple observational techniques to complex clinical assessments and specialized equipment.

How is Balance Tested
How is Balance Tested?

One common observational method is the Romberg test. This involves having the individual stand with their feet together and eyes closed. Difficulty maintaining this position could indicate a balance issue. More advanced clinical assessments can involve the use of tools like the Berg Balance Scale, which rates performance on a variety of tasks, such as standing from a sitting position, turning 360 degrees, and standing on one foot.

In addition to these methods, technological solutions such as force plates can provide objective measurements of a person’s balance. Force plates measure the ground reaction forces generated by a body standing on them to quantify balance, movement, gait, and other parameters.

How is Balance Measured?

Balance is typically measured using a combination of clinical assessments and objective testing. As mentioned, clinical tests like the Romberg test or Berg Balance Scale can provide valuable insights into a person’s balance capabilities. However, these tests are often qualitative and dependent on the practitioner’s observation skills.

Objective measurements of balance often involve biomechanical analysis, which can provide more quantifiable insights. For instance, posturography is a test that measures how well you can maintain steady balance under different conditions. It usually involves standing on a platform that records shifts in weight and body movement. Force plates are another common tool for measuring balance objectively. By analyzing the forces exerted on the plate when a person stands or moves on it, practitioners can glean information about the person’s balance, weight distribution, and movement patterns.

What are Effective Exercises to Improve Balance?

Various exercises can effectively improve balance, catering to different fitness levels and requirements. Some of these exercises that improve balance are standing leg lifts, heel-to-toe walks, Tai Chi, yoga, and balance ball exercises.

  • Standing leg lifts: This exercise involves standing on one leg while lifting the other leg to the side or to the back. It strengthens the legs and core, both essential for maintaining balance.
  • Heel-to-toe walk: Walking in a straight line while placing your heel directly in front of your toes can help improve balance. It mimics the act of walking on a tightrope.
  • Tai Chi: This ancient Chinese martial art involves slow, deliberate movements, deep breathing, and meditation. It is particularly beneficial for older adults to improve balance and coordination.
  • Yoga: Various yoga poses, particularly those that involve standing on one leg, can significantly improve balance.
  • Balance ball exercises: Performing exercises on an unstable surface like a balance ball can provide a challenging workout for your balance and core stability.

What are the Benefits of Balance Exercises?

Balance exercises offer various benefits, these include improved overall stability, increased muscle strength and coordination, injury prevention, improved focus and concentration, and better posture.

  • Improved overall stability: By enhancing your ability to control your body’s positioning, you can become steadier not just during exercise, but in daily activities as well.
  • Increased muscle strength and coordination: Balance exercises often require the involvement of multiple muscle groups working in coordination. This can help increase overall strength and improve muscular coordination.
  • Injury prevention: Good balance can help prevent falls and accidents, reducing the risk of fractures and other injuries.
  • Improved focus and concentration: Balance exercises require a significant amount of focus, which can lead to improved concentration and mental acuity.
  • Better posture: By strengthening the muscles used for balance, you can improve your alignment and posture, helping to prevent back and neck pain.

Whether you’re an athlete looking to enhance performance or an older adult seeking to maintain independence, balance exercises can provide substantial benefits.

What Balance Trainings are Included in a Fitness Routine?

Integrating balance training into a fitness routine does not have to be a complicated process. Most balance training exercises can be performed with minimal or no equipment, making them easy to incorporate. Here’s a basic structure you can follow.

  • Warm-up: Start with a brief warm-up to get your muscles ready for the workout. This could involve light aerobic activity such as jogging on the spot or skipping rope.
  • Balance exercises: Follow the warm-up with a series of balance exercises. This could include standing leg lifts, heel-to-toe walks, or exercises using a balance ball or balance board. Aim to perform these exercises for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Strength training: Incorporate some strength training exercises into your routine. By improving muscle strength, particularly in your core and lower body, you can enhance your balance.
  • Flexibility training: End your routine with some flexibility exercises or stretching. Good flexibility can contribute to better balance by allowing a greater range of motion.

How Does Balance Training Improve Athletic Performance?

Balance training is fundamental to athletic performance as it enhances body awareness, better coordination, increased power and injury prevention. These improvements can be beneficial across a range of sports and physical activities.

How Does Balance Training Improve Athletic Performance
How Does Balance Training Improve Athletic Performance?
  • Improved body awareness: Balance training helps athletes become more aware of their bodies in space, which can help improve technique and prevent injuries.
  • Better coordination: Many sports require complex movements that involve multiple body parts working together. Balance training can enhance this coordination, leading to more fluid movements and better performance.
  • Increased power: The improved stability from balance training can provide a solid base from which to generate power during movements, such as leg workouts. This can be particularly beneficial in sports where jumping or quick changes of direction are required.
  • Injury prevention: Better balance can reduce the risk of falls and other sports-related injuries. Furthermore, balance training can strengthen the muscles and ligaments around joints, providing further protection.

What are Great Balancing Activities?

Some great balancing activities include yoga, tai chi, dance, paddle boarding and surfing. Balance activities can range from simple exercises to more complex movements. They can also be fun and engaging, making them a great addition to a workout or even a social activity.

  • Yoga: Many yoga poses challenge your balance while also improving flexibility and strength.
  • Tai Chi: This Chinese martial art focuses on fluid, controlled movements and has been shown to significantly improve balance.
  • Dance: Dancing not only tests your balance but also improves your coordination and strength.
  • Paddleboarding or surfing: These sports challenge your balance while you’re on a moving surface on the water.
  • Slacklining: Walking along a narrow, suspended length of webbing can be a fun and challenging balance activity.

Remember, always ensure safety when engaging in balance activities. Start with simpler exercises and gradually progress to more difficult ones as your balance improves.

What are the Factors of Balance Problems?

Balance problems can occur due to various reasons such as age, medical conditions, medications, ear problems, and vision impairment. Identifying the underlying factors is key to addressing the issue.

  • Age: As people age, they might experience a natural decrease in balance and coordination due to diminished muscle strength and joint flexibility.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain diseases and health conditions can affect balance. These include stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and some types of heart disease.
  • Medications: Some medications can cause balance problems as a side effect. For instance, certain antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and sedatives can impair balance.
  • Ear Problems: The inner ear plays a crucial role in maintaining balance. Conditions like Meniere’s disease, vertigo, or infections can result in balance issues.
  • Vision Impairment: Our eyes provide essential information to help maintain balance. Vision issues, therefore, can impact balance.

What Role Does Nutrition Play in Maintaining Balance?

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining balance and preventing falls, particularly among the elderly. Certain nutrients are essential for maintaining muscle mass, bone health, and overall strength—all crucial for balance. The most important nutrients to consider when it comes to nutrition and maintaining proper BMI for better balance is protein, calcium, vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and hydration.

  • Protein: Adequate protein intake is essential for preserving muscle mass, which is vital for maintaining balance and strength.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D: Both of these nutrients are key to bone health. Strong bones can prevent falls and related injuries.
  • Vitamin B12: A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to nerve damage, which can affect balance.
  • Hydration: Dehydration can lead to dizziness and balance problems. Drinking enough water is essential, especially during workouts.
Do Age Affect the Balance of a Person?

Yes, age can significantly affect a person’s balance. As people age, physical changes, health conditions, and even certain medications can impact their ability to maintain balance. Muscle strength and flexibility often decrease with age, which can lead to instability and a greater risk of falls. Additionally, the sensory systems that help maintain balance might not work as efficiently. However, regular physical activity, especially balance, strength, and flexibility exercises, can help counteract these age-related changes and maintain good balance.

Does the Stretching Exercise Improve Balance?

Yes, stretching exercises indeed improve balance through improved muscle coordination, enhanced posture, and increased muscle control. Stretching helps improve flexibility, which is a critical aspect of good balance. When your muscles are more flexible, they allow a greater range of motion, which can enhance your stability and prevent falls.

  • Improved Muscle Coordination: Regular stretching can help your muscles work together more effectively, which can improve your balance and coordination.
  • Enhanced Posture: By loosening tight muscles, stretching helps correct imbalances that might affect your posture and, consequently, your balance.
  • Increased Muscle Control: Stretching exercises can help enhance your control over your muscles, which can be beneficial for maintaining balance, especially during movements.
Is Yoga the Best Example of a Balance Exercise?

Yes, Yoga is an excellent example of a balance exercise as it provides full-body engagement, strength and flexibility, mind-body connection and variety of poses. Yoga poses aim to strengthen the body, enhance flexibility, and improve balance.

  • Full-Body Engagement: Many yoga poses require you to engage multiple muscles simultaneously, encouraging a better sense of body awareness and balance.
  • Strength and Flexibility: Yoga poses build both strength and flexibility, which are key components of good balance.
  • Mind-Body Connection: The mindful aspect of yoga, focusing on your breath and being present, can also enhance your sense of balance.
  • Variety of Poses: There are many yoga poses specifically aimed at improving balance, such as Tree Pose, Warrior III, and Half Moon.

Remember, when beginning a yoga practice for balance, it’s advisable to start slowly, possibly with the assistance of a yoga instructor, to ensure that poses are performed correctly and safely.

Athletic Insight

Athletic Insight Research


The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.