The Art of Balance
Cross Training for Fitness & Life
|A well-balanced exercise program should focus on all of the following:
» Cardiorespiratory (aerobic) exercise
» Muscular strength & endurance
» Body composition
» Balance & agility
No matter what your age, better balance enhances enjoyment of many activities, from dancing and hiking to boating, or even walking to the back of a moving airplane.
It’s easy to add balance activities to your daily routine. Try standing on one leg while brushing your teeth or waiting in the checkout line. For a balance beam you can’t fall off, walk a grout line on a tiled floor, or the stripes in a carpeted hallway. Kick a small stone or pinecone as you hike – it’s a fun way to maintain balance, and gives you a great excuse to act like a kid again!
For a greater challenge, try tying your shoes while standing on one foot. If your balance is uncertain, exercises in the pool reduce the risk of injury from falling. Try walking backward in the shallow end, or even skipping.
Regular exercise allows you to enjoy a balanced, active life. Fitness and stability are requirements, not electives, says Michael. “Failing to frequently use your current physical capabilities is guaranteed to result in a gradual loss of those skills.”
If hitting the gym daily doesn’t appeal, explore new possibilities for exercising your whole body and staying in balance. Paddle a kayak or bike a beautiful trail. If you’re visiting Canyon Ranch in Tucson, enjoy the exhilaration of tackling the 36-foot climbing wall, or challenge your mental and physical balance on the newly built High Ropes Challenge Course, long a favorite in Lenox.
“Real” activities offer significant balance bonus, says Michael. Riding a real bicycle or hiking requires a balance element that the stationary bike and treadmill do not – and it’s always fun to get outside and play!