The balancing act -

The balancing act

When it comes to fitness, all you need is cardio, strength training and stretching, right? Not so fast! America Now wellness expert Peggy Hall explains that there's another component to fitness and it's probably the most neglected: Balance. 

"When it comes to balance, if you don't use it -- you lose it," Peggy explains. "Especially as you age."

Balance can mean the difference between taking a tumble and catching yourself or taking a tumble and breaking a bone.

Peggy recommends balancing moves as a great way to help to strengthen bones, because you're doing weight-bearing exercise.

Here are a couple of ways you can work on your balancing act:

1. Sand surfing
"This first one I call sand surfing, because you need to learn to ride the wave without wiping out," explains Peggy.

Start with one foot directly in front of the other, heel to toe touching, like you're on a tightrope. Balance your weight evenly between both feet. Reach your arms out to the sides, then close your eyes and breathe.

When you take away the visual cues, it makes it harder to balance. Practice this for 30 seconds on each side and you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll improve!

"Breathing is processed in the same place in the brain as balance, so when you hold your breath, you cut off your powers of balance," Peggy adds.

2. One-leg twist
Raise your arms overhead, then twist your body to the right and raise your right leg, bending your knee, and reach your arms to the sides.

Inhale back to center and repeat on the other side.

"Twisting and balancing are considered brain power exercises, because you have to coordinate your movement as well," says Peggy.

Continue in this manner a few times, then hold on each side for 3-5 slow deep breaths.

3. Warrior 3
This one comes directly from yoga. Start with your hands on the back of a chair or at the wall, and reach one leg behind you as your lower your torso parallel to the ground. Test your balance even further by bringing your arms out to the sides. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then repeat on the other leg.

Peggy says that this move helps to strengthen your lower back and prevent back pain.

"As your balance improves," Peggy says, "Take it to the next level by doing these moves on your tip toes or while standing on a cushion or pillow, which makes it even harder."

And don't forget to breathe, relax, focus, enjoy.

Peggy recommends doing to do at least one of these every day at a set time -- say before you have breakfast. "It only takes a minute and it's a great way to start your day off feeling strong and balanced!"

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved

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