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Don't Forget to Work on your Balance

You come to the gym for your regular workout. You know you need to do strength building exercises and that you have to get in an cardio workout, but what about your balance?

Sadly, as we age our balancing abilities diminish. And the fact is that without good balance, there will be no lifting weights or time on the elliptical. So, among the working with weights and exercising your heart and lungs while running or riding, add in some time for balance exercises.

Here are a few that can easily be built into a warm-up or cool down routine:

1. Stork Swim

This exercise improves balance by shifting your body weight and strengthens your stabilizing muscles.

  1. Balance your left foot, bend your right knee and raise it behind you to hip level.

  2. Reach both hands, palms up, straight out in front of you.

  3. Bend forward and extend your right leg behind you.

  4. Hold for 10 seconds, return to starting position, do 25 reps.

  5. Switch legs and repeat.

2. T-Slide

This one requires standing on tiptoes the entire time, forcing you to use your core muscles. Add to it by holding 2-lb dumbbells in your hands and closing your eyes.

  1. With your feet together, lift your heels off the floor and balance on your toes.

  2. Reach your hands out to the side, palms facing forward.

  3. Pulse your arms 1-inch forward and 1-inch back. Do 25 reps.

  4. Turn your palms towards the ceiling. Do 25 reps.

3. Russian Twist

For this one, you may want a mat or other padding depending on the surface you sit on.

  1. Sit on the floor, bend your knew and cross your right foot over your left foot at the ankle.

  2. Gently place your hands on your knees, lift your feet off the floor and lean back 45 degrees.

  3. With your hands loosely clasped in front of you, lower your elbow (first the right, then the left) toward the floor. Keep your legs and spine in the same position. Only your core will twist slightly as you move your arms.

  4. Repeat 25 times on each side.

  5. Switch sides, crossing your left foot over your right foot, and repeat 25 times.

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