Are You Overlooking this Vital Area of Fitness? (You Probably Are)

Are You Overlooking this Vital Area of Fitness? (You Probably Are)

Cardio, strength, flexibility – the three ‘pillars of fitness’ that no one can argue with. But there’s one area that’s commonly forgotten.

Fitness gurus say the three foundations of fitness are:

  • Cardio – walking, biking, running, etc., to facilitate blood flow and improve resting heart rate & endurance
  • Strength – machines, dumbbells, etc., to build muscle or add mass
  • Flexibility – stretching, yoga, etc., to reduce risk of injury, improve range of motion

importance-of-balance-exerciseThese are the fitness areas that you likely work within, too. But these fitness fanatics may be missing a crucial foundation of fitness – one that should be ‘non-negotiable’, in terms of whether it should be included in a fitness regimen or not.

That fourth area, is balance.

What makes balance so crucial to fitness though, besides staying on your feet when you’re moving?

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Well, balance and proprioception are intrinsically linked. The latter is a mind-body connection that helps your body recognize where you are in space, therefore informing it how to appropriately react. Challenging your sense of balance can fine-tune this proprioception. The mind-body link is crucial to everything you might do in regards to exercise – from athletic maneuvers, to fall prevention, to improved posture, to injury prevention and foot strength.

Plus, better balance gives you more leeway for error – navigating uneven terrain on a run, Euro-stepping by another athlete on the court, picking up heavy objects, and stabilizing yourself so you don’t fall embarrassingly, are all examples.

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Fall prevention, especially for older demographics, is critical. A study from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada followed up with more than 500 broken-hip patients a year after their injury. Of the group that was aged 50 and above, the study found 20% had died, 5% experienced a second fracture, and 20% had to be institutionalized. Those percentages worsened for participants confined to long-term care. Building balance and proprioception can be a preventative measure against such outcomes happening in the first place.

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