Exercises to Help Maintain Balance and Strength

Updated on August 31, 2016
We may become a little off-balanced when we rise suddenly to a standing position.
We may become a little off-balanced when we rise suddenly to a standing position. | Source

The Facts

The dictionary states balance is the ability to maintain the body's center of mass over its base of support. If balanced, one can see when mobile, gauge direction and speed while moving, and adjust accordingly to maintain balance.

The human body has six basic balance sensors working together to help us maintain our equilibrium (see picture below). The input from these sensors help the brain process information to aid in keeping us aright within our area of space.

How does climbing affect input in regards to balance? It is the pressure placed upon the front part of the foot (or sole) as a person leans forward signaling the brain on our whereabouts. We are then advised what motor output, what reaction and pressure, is needed to keep upright and moving. Out body responds and adapts.

A Doctor's Balanced Perspective

Earlier this Spring, an elderly friend of ours shared a piece of advice on aging well. At the time, he was having a bit of trouble standing up without tipping over in the mornings. He set an appointment with his family doctor out of concern. After a series of tests, Roger's results showed his sense of balance was indeed off.

Most interesting was the advice and prescription his doctor gave him. Through years of research and consultation, his physician believed Floridians were at a disadvantage with the flat terrain they walked upon. He suggested a simple exercise to strengthen the muscles to regain balance. It is quite simple and if practiced two to three times daily one can slowly feel the effects.

Balance Exercise

  • Stand against a table or wall for support
  • Place one foot in front of the other (this is called a tandem stance)
  • Close your eyes
  • Lift your hands up, parallel to the ground, slightly to the back of your body
  • Count how many seconds you can stay balanced without moving or falling.
  • Repeat, switching feet (left vs. right in front, etc.) for a total of four attempts

The first time I tried this exercise -- I stood for a total of three seconds without moving. Not so good. After four weeks, I can now stand for about ten seconds without tipping over. Ah, balance can be improved - even if there are no mountains to scale!


How Balanced Are You?

Number of seconds without falling while balanced with one foot in front of the other and eyes closed.

See results

Hiking for Health and Stamina

Because we were tucked away at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains during the 80's, hiking was a family activity almost every other weekend. Accompanied by the family dog (and the curious cat), we trekked into the wooded forest looking for adventure.

Endurance and balance were two important benefits we all derived from our hiking experience over the years. The challenge of walking up and down steep mountains and hills not only strengthened our muscles but developed our sense of balance.

We now reside in Florida and the tallest point is Britton Hill at 345 feet in Walton County. Unless you count Disney's Space Mountain in the category of height, there are no hills or mountains in Florida. This poses a problem for us as part of the aging Floridian population. It is the force of climbing that contributes to the body's balance control. In short, we are a little off-balanced without the challenge of climbing.

Age-Balance Averages (standing on one foot)

Source: Save Institute

Pirouettes of Joy

It is a glorious feeling when a body can balance on one foot without falling.
It is a glorious feeling when a body can balance on one foot without falling. | Source

Basic Exercise Tips

The video below has a small section on balancing with one foot in front of the other (around the 2:07 mark). It gives you an example of how it is done and what it is meant to improve. I found the video quite helpful in general for improving my sense of balance-control, strengthening my ankles and core leg muscles.

Simple Balance Exercise Tips

Steady as He Goes!

My son still hikes the mountains almost weekly (with his faithful dog). I like to believe it is making a difference in his life. Spiritually it  revives him and clears his mind.
My son still hikes the mountains almost weekly (with his faithful dog). I like to believe it is making a difference in his life. Spiritually it revives him and clears his mind. | Source

The Deeper Meaning

When I contemplated the possibility of losing balance due to lack of climbing challenges, being a person who loves to analyze truths, I found the whole experience spiritually moving. How so? Well, If you think about it ... mountains in life challenge us to climb upwards.

There are many heroic tales of adventure stemming from mountain top experiences. For example:

  • Noah's ark rested on the peaks of Ararat after facing the flood of destruction.
  • Moses talked to and saw God on Mount Sinai after climbing upwards over rocky terrain.
  • Edmund Percival Hillary, the first man to reach the top of Mount Everest, overcame hazardous weather, closed access, and frozen boots to plant a cross on its summit in 1953.
  • Lastly, in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King the climax centers around Frodo ascending Mount Doom to destroy the "one ring" to save the world.

If we are to gain stability in life, we must face the mountains in our path. It begins with one step on a journey which most undoubtedly promises to test our faith. Looking upwards, we view the terrible heights we must reach. Only the brave know the results of facing this fear. Yes, dear friend, we find balance in life when we discover mountain climbing molds our inner being to champion over adversity.

Goal Achieved!

When we reset our sense of equilibrium, we can rest assured standing up will not throw us off!
When we reset our sense of equilibrium, we can rest assured standing up will not throw us off! | Source

In Summary

Many of us lose our sense of balance as we age, due to different factors, but we may be able to build our sense of control through simple exercise. Our mental attitude can contribute to our external view of health. Our beliefs may affect how we face our personal fitness challenges. The following are some key pointers to keep in mind.

  1. Hiking hills and mountains are excellent ways to build muscles. While enjoying the outdoors, one can count on a well-balanced body and attitude over time.
  2. Pay attention to how your body sensors help your brain send important signals to help your body adapt as you walk or climb. For instance, when one has an inner ear infection standing and walking may become difficult without tipping over.
  3. Face the "mountains" in your life with courage. The prophet Isaiah writes "And I will make all my mountains a road, and my highways shall be raised up." Mountains were created and intended to lead us to better places, perfecting our faith.

Find your way over the mountain!


The medical information included in this article is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The responsibility for results or consequences falls upon the reader if there is an attempt to use or adopt any of the information presented in the post.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Dianna Mendez


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • jo miller profile image

        Jo Miller 3 months ago from Tennessee

        Just the type of information I need Dianne. Bookmarking this for later use.

      • nikkikhan10 profile image

        Nikki Khan 3 months ago from London

        Thanks for sharing dear,, I would balance up myself more better now after reading this hub.Lol.

        An amazing and informative one to do balance up exercise.Good job Dianna.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 3 months ago

        Thank you, dear friends for your comments on this article. As it is today, I am still doing well using the balance methods listed here. I hope they prove useful to you as well.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 4 months ago from England

        Came back for another read, and just to say that now my foot is better (long story!) I can balance better! lol!

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 6 months ago from Brazil

        I have already shared this information with a couple of people. I have had occasional balance issues and wondered what the heck was going on. Because of where we live, I put it down to too much heat or not enough water.

        However, I can see how balance related issues can be something else. I will need to begin your exercises shown in the video.

        I'm glad the doctor who saw your friend, gave him that advice and explanation and not medication.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 8 months ago from England

        How fascinating about Florida being flat and messing up your balance! I have graves disease (thyroid) so my balance went out the window for a while, but I do exercises now in the mornings to keep fit and I do a lot of balancing on each leg, and yes it does make a huge difference, great article Dianna!

      • jo miller profile image

        Jo Miller 14 months ago from Tennessee

        Great article. I'm fairly active and live on a hill, but I have noticed as I age that my balance is not as good as it once was. Will come back to check out these exercises to improve it. Thanks for this wonderful information.

      • profile image

        NadineMay 15 months ago

        Great article. Love the images. Both me and hubby do our regular yoga exercises in the morning and our garden happens to be on eight levels, so that keeps us fit.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 16 months ago from USA

        I use to take ballet and had excellent balance. But now I am 62 years old and I have noticed my balance is not as steady as it use to be. These are great exercises to help me get back in balance.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 16 months ago from USA

        I'm back to take another look at this great article. Particularly as the population ages, it's important to share this type of information. Gotta stay mobile and independent as long as possible.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 18 months ago from Queensland Australia

        Hi, Dianna. I found this all very interesting. It makes sense that climbing helps you keep your sense of balance but I had never thought about it. I managed to keep my balance for six seconds doing the exercise suggested. I found that when I started doing some yoga exercises that required you to stand on one leg..at first I could only do it for a few seconds but after doing it for a week could balance for ursine 25 seconds. It shows balance can be improved with practice. Good article. I was surprised to see it at CalorieBee..but so be it.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Thanks for coming by, Larry. May your week be filled with lots of adventure.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Deb, any exercise that gets your core muscles moving against force will work. The hills and mountains are best but the stairs serve exactly the same purpose. Have a great week, dear lady.

      • Larry Rankin profile image

        Larry Rankin 19 months ago from Oklahoma

        Interesting read.

      • profile image

        Deb Hirt 19 months ago

        Would climbing stairs help in this respect? Or is it related specifically to differing g terrains in order to keep balance in perspective?

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Hello, Vellur! I'm glad you found this post inspiring. With the coming cooler fall temps, I plan on getting out to hike the park trails as an alternative balance exercise. Enjoy your adventure.

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 19 months ago from Dubai

        Interesting and informative post about balance and how to maintain it. Hiking helps to maintain balance, after reading this, I now have a reason to start hiking. Thank you for sharing.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Christy, so nice to see you today! I agree, any age is a great way to start keeping balanced. I only wish I would have started much much earlier. Enjoy your day.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Hey CC, I'm with you on staying fit to the end. I'm doing well enough for an aging person -- Thank God. Keep balanced and well, dear friend.

      • ChristyWrites profile image

        Christy Birmingham 19 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Great advice here for improving balance, even in the face of the challenges brought on by aging. Thank you for the helpful details here, including how hikes can be helpful. It's about challenging ourselves at any age, to improve ourselves, and I like that :)

      • cclitgirl profile image

        Cynthia Calhoun 19 months ago from Western NC

        I never would have thought about the lack of hilly terrain to be a factor in exercise and aging. Huh. But as I get older myself, I love the idea of staying in shape - I'd love to still be able to walk, bike, even do yoga all the way 'til the end,' haha.

        Hope you're well. Thanks for a great article!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        ChitrangadaSharan, I believe in practicing good health and keeping fit but I value the spiritual aspect of balance even more, as you point out. God bless you, sweet lady.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        RTalloni, you are so ahead of me on the balancing act! I wish I would have known this about balance much earlier. Thank you for your support of the article, dear friend.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 19 months ago from New Delhi, India

        You define and describe 'Balance ' in such an interesting way, emphasising the greater balance of body and mind.

        This is an important read for everyone. Thankfully I have taken special care in this regard.

        Thanks for the remainder in the form of this well written hub! Very good selection of pictures too!

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 19 months ago from the short journey

        An important post on maintaining balance and strength. Thanks for highlighting the topic for us. For some time now I've practiced standing on one foot while bringing the opposite foot up behind me anytime I waited in line and around the house. I wanted to work on balance and strengthen muscles and I've been able to make progress in how much time I can do it and in being able to balance without having to wave my arms about. :) Pinning to my Solve It: Senior Citizens… board. As always, a neat read.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Peggy, I've been to Texas visiting relatives and do know you have neither hills or mountains. However, all the open space is impressive. Gregory is my nephew. He is a sculptor of metal. I did an article on him awhile back on HP. His work is quite creative. Peggy, I enjoyed our visit, dear lady. Enjoy your week and stay balanced! Blessings.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 19 months ago from Houston, Texas

        Where we live in Houston it is also very flat and even when I was younger doing some hiking and sightseeing in other parts of the country...I noticed the difference. That is probably why those stair-masters and similar machines are so popular in gyms. The exercises presented in this hub are excellent. The age differences on how long one can stand on one foot are interesting. Loved the photos of the sculptures you included! Is Gregory Mendez related to you? Will be sharing this on HP, twitter and Pinterest.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        I stretch every day now to keep limber. The old bones creak if I don't keep them flexible. Guess we will be better off than most. I appreciate your thoughts, Suzette.

      • suzettenaples profile image

        Suzette Walker 19 months ago from Taos, NM

        Wonderful informative article. I have begun doing yoga to help with balance and keeping my joints limber. Exercise makes all the difference especially as we age.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Daisy, good to hear you are better and able to stand on your mending foot. I'm sure you will conquer the toe problem and be walking, no running, soon. You may just have to write about your journey.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        AliciaC, it was something I took seriously once I listened to friends discuss their health issues. For the most part, it is something that can be worked upon for the better.

      • Daisy Mariposa profile image

        Daisy Mariposa 19 months ago from Orange County (Southern California)


        Thanks for doing the research for, and writing, this informative article.

        As you know, I experienced a severely broken foot 6 months ago. I'm finally walking without a cane, but I still have problems with my broken foot's strength and balance. I can stand flat-footed on my broken foot with my other foot off the ground, but my balance is not good enough for me to stand on my toes on my broken foot. That's going to take a while for me to accomplish.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 19 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is an interesting article, Dianna. Balance is an important topic that I think more people should think about, including me. Thanks for the great reminder.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Your endurance on balance is amazing! It proves exercise along with a good attitude leads to a healthier body, Nell. I hope readers note your comment and are inspired.

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 19 months ago from England

        I would never have thought of this Dianna! but good points, my balance is really good as I have spent years doing exercise in the morning and some of my exercises are standing on one foot the the other. I can do it for at least ten minutes each! lol!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Bill, I am sure you are one of the healthiest people on God's earth. Glad you found the post interesting. I value your opinion!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        You have mentioned another great way to gain balance control. Those who love the water would profit from paddle boating in so many ways. You should try it and then write a hub about your experience. See you around, Eric,

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Yoga is an excellent way to build balance control. Great share! I've been on those NM mountain and know well what you are saying. Thanks for the added value to the content, Linda.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        Flourish, I admire your outlook and continued ability to hike for health. I had vertigo once and it was not a pleasant feeling and I was always careful climbing stairs and walking around the home. You have my prayers, dear lady.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 19 months ago

        May you be blessed with a long healthy life, Jackie. Keep hiking those hills!

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 19 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I didn't know that about balance and the way it relates to climbing hills. How very interesting. I've been hiking and climbing hills since I was a little tyke.....well I'll be darned, I learned something new today. Thanks, Dee!

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 19 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Great article. My elder son insists that I take up paddle boarding. It works on balance and core muscle coordination and strength. You do a fine job of explaining this thing called balance, for our bodies and soul.

      • Sunshine625 profile image

        Linda Bilyeu 19 months ago from Orlando, FL

        Florida - the flatland state the inhabits flatlanders. I had no idea what those words meant until I become part of the New Mexico family. I always thought the walkway that goes over the highway was a challenge to climb until I hiked through canyons in NM.

        Yes, balance is very important and I try my best to keep my balance aligned with yoga stances, when I remember to do my stances, which is usually when I feel my balance might be failing. Excellent advice and tips to remain balanced.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA

        I have problems with balance due to MS which show up inconsistently on neurological tests. Everything is fine until I get to that heel-to-toe walking test that resembles the test you'd take if you were pulled over for drunk driving. I can't do it. I hike short distances in the state park nearby and try to pretend I don't have MS, but I would give anything to have my sense of balance back. Makes it hard to climb ladders, stairs, etc. without thinking you'll fall.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 19 months ago from The Beautiful South

        I really thank God that I have such good balance because something is forever happening that should make me fall but I manage somehow not to and am always amazed!

        It does bother me now after two surgeries and being weaker while I recover and we know the older we are the more apt we are to break something! So whatever helps me I am thankful for.

        Loved your hiking story, I love doing all that too and still do every day that I can!