Balance training is a type of exercise which is designed to improve balance and proprioception, the sensation of knowing where the body and its joints are in space. Regular balance training can be beneficial to people of all ages, and it can provide a wide range of benefits which make it an excellent thing to integrate into a regular athletic routine. Most exercises can be easily performed in an assortment of environments, from the home to a woodland trail, and they can be learned from books or an instructor who specializes in balance exercises.
In balance training, the goal is to increase the body's agility, and to get someone in touch with his or her center of gravity. One of the most immediate effects of training is a reduction in the risk of falling, because falls are caused by a lack of balance, and someone with a good sense of proprioception will be less likely to fall. People are also less prone to injuries caused by minor balancing problems, such as ankles twisted by a careless descent down a flight of stairs.
Regular balance training can also make someone more efficient and more flexible. Learning about one's sense of balance and body can help someone to move more efficiently, ensuring that energy is not wasted in ineffective movements. A runner, for example, will find that he or she runs more cleanly, is less prone to ankle injuries, and experiences fewer falls with balance training.
Some exercises are conducted with the body alone. For example, someone might stand on one leg and throw alternating punches. The punches throw off the center of balance, forcing the athlete to correct his or her position in space to avoid falling. Over time, this exercise strengthens the body's sense of balance. Props like weights, balance balls, trampolines, straps, and so forth can also be used to test the body's balance and push the body to work harder.
Older adults are often encouraged to engage in balance training to improve their overall health. The training can also be combined with yoga, pilates, swimming, and other gentle forms of exercise to promote overall muscle tone and core strength. Athletes often benefit from this training, and they may notice a significant improvement when they use balance exercises tailored to their sport. Younger adults may also find the experience productive and rewarding, as it can make everything from walking on heels to recreational biking easier and more comfortable.