Why should you combine strength and balance exercises in your routine?

Exercise is crucial for staying healthy and feeling our best. However, with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to figure out the best approach. That’s where combining strength and balance exercises comes in. Instead of focusing solely on one aspect of fitness, why not get the best of both worlds?

When it comes to fitness, we often hear about the importance of strength training or the benefits of balance exercises. But what if I told you that by combining the two, you could unlock a whole new level of fitness?

It’s true! By incorporating both strength and balance exercises into your routine, you can build muscle, tone your body, and improve your stability, coordination, and overall functional fitness.

What is the relationship between muscle strength and balance?

Understanding the relationship between muscle strength and balance is essential for maximizing overall physical function and reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

Muscle strength provides the foundation for stability and mobility, while balance ensures proper coordination and control during movement.

In other words, strong muscles support balance, and improved balance enhances the effectiveness of strength exercises, creating a symbiotic relationship crucial for optimal physical performance and well-being.

Combining strength and balance exercises offers many benefits for overall health and wellness. By integrating both types of exercises into your routine [1], you can enhance functional fitness, reduce the risk of falls and injuries, and improve sports performance. 

These combined exercises also promote increased muscle engagement, boosted metabolism, and a stronger mind-body connection, ultimately leading to a healthier and more vibrant life.

What are the benefits of combining strength and balance exercises?
Photograph: micens/Envato

What are the benefits of combining strength and balance exercises?

1. Improved functional fitness

The ability to perform daily tasks with ease is what we mean when we talk about functional fitness. Combining strength and balance exercises helps to enhance this essential aspect of fitness. Here’s how:

  • Effortless movement: By strengthening your muscles and improving your balance, you’ll find everyday tasks like carrying groceries or climbing stairs much easier.
  • Increased agility: Functional fitness isn’t just about strength but also agility and coordination. Balance exercises challenge your body to move differently, improving your overall agility and coordination.
  • Independence and confidence: When you feel strong and stable in your body, you’re more likely to maintain your independence as you age. Plus, the confidence you gain from knowing you can handle whatever life throws your way is priceless.

Incorporating these exercises into your routine isn’t just about looking good; it’s about feeling strong, capable, and ready to take on the world.

2. Reduced risk of falls and injuries

When it comes to staying active and healthy, avoiding falls and injuries is key. Balance exercises train your body to stay stable and upright, reducing the likelihood of slips and falls, especially as you age.

Strength training builds muscle and strengthens the ligaments and tendons around your joints, providing added support and protection against injuries.

Balance exercises challenge your reflexes and reaction time, helping you respond quickly to sudden movements or changes in terrain, which can prevent accidents before they happen.

By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you’re not only safeguarding yourself against potential injuries but also maintaining your independence and quality of life for years to come.

3. Enhanced sports performance

It takes more than just skill to succeed in sports; intelligent training is also essential. Here’s how incorporating both strength and balance exercises can take your performance to the next level:

  • Increased power: Strength training builds muscle mass and power, allowing you to generate more force with each movement.
  • Improved agility: Balance exercises challenge your coordination and proprioception, enhancing your ability to change direction quickly and react to unpredictable situations.
  • Reduced injury risk: By strengthening muscles and improving stability, you’re less likely to be sidelined by sports injuries like sprains or strains.

Whether you’re hitting the field, court, or track, adding these exercises to your training regimen can give you the edge to outperform the competition and reach your athletic goals.

4. Increased muscle engagement

Exercises that target both balance and strength include activating many muscle groups at once, so it’s more than just physical activity. Here’s how these exercises boost muscle engagement:

  • Comprehensive activation: Strength exercises target specific muscle groups, while balance exercises require additional muscles to stabilize your body [2].
  • Full-body workout: From your core to your extremities, combining these exercises ensures that no muscle is left untouched.
  • Functional strength: By challenging your muscles in different ways, you develop functional strength that translates into real-life activities.

So, whether you’re lifting weights or balancing on one leg, know that you’re not just toning individual muscles; you’re creating a strong, resilient body from head to toe.

5. Boosted metabolism

Your metabolism is a major factor in energy levels and weight management. Strength training helps increase muscle mass, which in turn raises your resting metabolic rate, allowing you to burn more calories even at rest [3].

Balance exercises may not seem like calorie torchers, but they often involve dynamic movements that elevate your heart rate and increase calorie expenditure.

Intense workouts, such as those incorporating both strength and balance exercises, can create an “afterburn” effect or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), where your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate even after exercising.

So, by incorporating these exercises into your routine, you’re getting stronger and more balanced and revving up your metabolism for greater fat loss and overall energy.

What are examples of strength and balance exercises?

Incorporating both strength and balance exercises into your fitness routine is essential for achieving overall physical wellness and functional fitness. 

The combination of these exercises helps enhance muscle strength, stability, coordination, and body awareness, which are crucial for everyday activities and overall health.

Here are some examples of strength and balance exercises [4]:

1. Hamstring curls

  • Begin by standing with feet slightly apart. 
  • Keep the knee of your support leg slightly bent. 
  • Slowly bend your knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks while keeping your back straight and your pelvis level. 
  • Hold the position for two seconds before returning to the starting position. 
  • Alternate legs to balance the strength and stability on both sides of your body.

2. Small squats

  • Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  • Engage your core and slowly push your buttocks back while bending your knees, keeping your back straight and your chest lifted. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds, then slowly rise back to the starting position. 
  • This exercise strengthens the lower body while challenging your balance.

3. Back leg raises

  • Stand upright with your feet slightly apart. 
  • Bend the knee of your supporting leg for stability. 
  • Slowly raise one leg backwards without bending your waist or twisting your hips, and hold for two seconds. 
  • Lower the leg back to the ground and repeat with the other leg. 
  • This exercise improves lower back strength and balance.

4. Side leg raises

  • Stand with your feet together, keeping the knee of your supporting leg slightly bent.
  • Lift one leg to the side, maintaining a straight posture, and hold for two seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and switch legs.
  • This exercise targets the hip abductors and improves lateral balance.
side leg raises

5. Toe stands

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slowly rise to your tiptoes, lifting your heels off the ground. 
  • Hold this position for two seconds before gently lowering your heels back to the floor. 
  • Toe stands strengthen the calf muscles and enhance balance by challenging your ability to stabilize in a less secure position.

6. Flamingo stand

  • Stand with your feet slightly apart and lift one knee by sliding the foot up the opposite leg, mimicking a flamingo’s stance. 
  • Hold for two seconds, focusing on maintaining balance on one leg, then switch. 
  • This exercise improves core and lower body strength, essential for balance.

7. Walking the line

  • Practice this exercise near a wall or counter for support. 
  • Place one foot directly in front of the other, as if walking on a tightrope, and take 10 or more steps forward. 
  • This activity improves your dynamic balance and coordination.

8. Wall push-ups

  • Face a wall, placing your hands on it at shoulder height. 
  • Keeping your feet planted, bend your elbows to bring your body towards the wall. 
  • Hold briefly, then push back to the starting position. 
  • This modification of the traditional push-up builds upper body strength while maintaining balance.

By engaging in these exercises, individuals can significantly enhance their strength and balance, leading to improved daily functionality and reduced risk of falls. 

It’s important to start these exercises at a comfortable pace and intensity, gradually increasing as your abilities improve.

Closing thoughts

Incorporating both strength and balance exercises into your routine is the key to achieving a strong, balanced, and healthy body.

By combining these two types of exercises, you’re not only building muscle and improving stability, but you’re also enhancing functional fitness and reducing the risk of falls and injuries. The benefits are undeniable, from increased sports performance to boosted metabolism and improved overall well-being.

You may realize your full potential and reach your fitness objectives with commitment and hard work.

Therefore, keep in mind that every step you take to include strength and balance exercises in your routine will get you one step closer to becoming a healthier, happier version of yourself, regardless of how experienced you are in sports or how you are just beginning your fitness journey.

FAQs

Why do we need strength and balance?

Strength is crucial for performing daily tasks like lifting and carrying, while balance helps prevent falls and maintain stability in various activities.

What are the benefits of combining strength and balance exercises?

Combining these exercises enhances overall functional fitness, reduces the risk of falls and injuries, and improves sports performance.

Can I do strength and balance exercises at home without equipment?

Yes, you can perform bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges for strength and activities like standing on one leg or yoga poses for balance.

Why is it important to combine flexibility and strength together?

Combining flexibility and strength improves overall mobility and reduces the risk of injury by ensuring muscles can move through their full range of motion while being strong enough to support movement.

[1] https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/exercise-and-physical-activity/four-types-exercise-can-improve-your-health-and-physical
[2] https://www.physio-pedia.com/Balance_Training
[3] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism
[4] https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/strength-and-balance-exercises.aspx

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