Bikers and boaters need good sitting balance or they can topple over onto hard pavement or into the water. Balance is the ability to reach and maintain equilibrium while still or in motion. By responding quickly to changes in your environment, you can function well in daily life and during demanding physical activities. You can improve your sitting balance by progressively increasing the difficulty of various exercises.
While seated, you can improve the control of your center of gravity by practicing weight-shifting balance exercises. By moving your pelvis in different directions -- forward, backward and side to side -- and away from a centered position, you can work on your balance as well as strengthen your core musculature and lower body. You can also increase the flexibility of your hip joints. For example, sit on a stability ball with your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart. Slowly move your hips forward, holding the peak position for a count of three, then return to the starting position. Next, shift your weight backwards for a count of three. Repeat the exercise again with your eyes closed.
Upon mastering basic weight-shifting exercises, you can advance balance training from a seated position in various ways. Change arm positions or introduce movement -- reaching out to grab an object -- to make balance exercises more difficult. Change the surface you sit on by using balance exercise tools, such as foam pads, inflatable balance trainers or stability balls. You can also change the way you use vision, transitioning from having your eyes open to wearing dark glasses to closed eyes. You can transition from single tasks requiring simple movement to multi-tasking exercises and games.
When bouncing on an exercise ball, you’re forced to control your center of gravity in a dynamic way. You can bounce up and down, forward and backward, side to side or diagonally. While honing your balance, bouncing exercises also strengthen the muscles in your lower body -- hip flexors, thighs and ankles. For example, sit upright on a ball with feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground. Lock your gaze on a target at eye level. Start by bouncing vertically, increasing the height of your bounce incrementally until your sitting bones lift off the ball. Perform 10 bounces, then close your eyes and repeat the exercise. If you experience discomfort in your knees or hips or start feeling dizzy, stop bouncing.
By adding resistance, such as a medicine ball, to an exercise while sitting on a stability ball, you'll build core muscles and the upper body. For example, sit on the ball with only your toes touching the floor. Have a partner also sit on a ball across from you. Perform a game of catch in which your partner tosses a medicine ball to you at different angles. The more you have to move in different directions to catch the ball, the more you hone your sitting balance. To decrease the difficulty or load of the exercise, replace the medicine ball with a smaller and lighter rubber ball.
- Conditioning for Outdoor Fitness: Functional Exercise and Nutrition for Every Body; David Musnick and Mark Pierce
- Fallproof!: A Comprehensive Balance and Mobility Training Program; Debra J Rose
- American Council on Exercise: Designing Balance Exercise Programs for Older Adults
- Balance on the Ball: Exercises Inspired by the Teachings of Joseph Pilates; Elisabeth Crawford
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