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Central California Life Magazine

Health and Wellness: The balanced resolution

Feb 17, 2015 10:41PM ● By Cen Cali Life Magazine

Health and Wellness

The balanced resolution

by Rhonda Murphy as told to Abigail Martin

The new year is here and you’ve made a resolution to lose weight and inches. You already know what you need to do to live a healthier lifestyle: build muscle strength and lose fat by eating well and exercising.

What many people don’t realize is that there is a third and equally important element to maintaining a fit body.

That element is balance.

Having good balance prevents injuries, builds abdominal strength (which protects your spine) and allows your body to effectively carry out any physical activity. I see more injuries to 20 to 80-year-olds because of trips and falls than any other reason, simply because their bodies lack balance. These injuries can debilitate a person for life.

Practicing balance is easy to incorporate into your daily life. Try standing on one foot while you brush your teeth in the morning. You’ll notice your body struggle the first time you do it, but give it some time and eventually you’ll be standing on one foot with ease.

To incorporate balance exercises into your workouts, concentrate on keeping your abdominal muscles tight and your body frame steady. This movement not only increases your balance, but it also gives you better fat-blasting results than traditional tummy-toning exercises such as crunches.

Weight training allows you to build muscle as well as work on your balance. (A big misconception among exercise beginners is that cardio workouts, such as running or climbing stairs, are the most effective way to lose fat. A more effective way to lose fat is to train with weights.)

Weight training can also cut your workout time in half if you continuously move from one repetition to the next, taking only short breaks between cycles if necessary. A repetition is a single exercise that focuses on one or two muscles. A cycle is a combination of repetitions. (To give you an example, 12 bicep curls, 12 tricep kicks and a one-minute plank can make up one cycle.)

Workouts that integrate balance, strength training and cardio are called circuit workouts. Circuit workouts are a smarter and quicker way to train your way to a strong and balanced body.

Here are a few examples to help you get started:

• Bring one knee up and bend it at a 90-degree angle and set the other foot on the ground, while completing 12-16 bicep curls on the arm opposite the bent knee.

• Bend forward slightly at your hips, back straight, with one foot on the ground and its knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Push the other leg back and hold it up, while completing 12-16 tricep kicks on the arm opposite the leg raised behind you.

Try these exercises and see the difference standing on one leg makes. You’ll feel it in your belly, where balance is sustained.

Cheers to the new year and the new, balanced you!