Boosting balance with your eyes closed

Many simple, effective exercises can be done almost anytime and anywhere to target static balance (when you’re standing still) and dynamic balance (when you’re in motion). A few suggestions from Jean Gutier-rez, an assistant professor of exercise science at George Washington University:

Take the stairs, whenever possible, which strengthens leg and other muscles that are crucial for good balance.

●While watching television, practice standing on one foot with your eyes open for as long as you can during a commercial break. At the next break, do the same with the other foot. Once you can make it through an entire break without stumbling, try it with your eyes closed (which eliminates sensory input from the vision system and adds an extra layer of challenge to any activity), making sure to stand near a wall or a stable piece of furniture, just in case.

●While brushing your teeth, try balancing on tiptoe. Once you’ve mastered that, try standing on the back of your heels.

●To simulate a balance beam, try walking on raised curbs instead of the flat sidewalk (although not too close to heavy traffic).

Hold a heavy shopping basket while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, switching arms every 30 to 60 seconds. For more advanced training, stand on one foot while shifting the basket from arm to arm every 15 seconds; switch legs every time you move forward.

— Carolyn Butler