Stability through Exercise

2013-1114 Balance or be EatenAccording to the Harvard Health Publications article titled Simple Exercises to Keep You on Your Feet, “Good balance and coordination can mean the difference between taking a tumble — potentially breaking a bone — and staying on your feet. Strong evidence shows that regular physical activity can reduce falls by nearly a third in older adults at higher risk of falling. Even if you’re not at high risk for a fall good balance and coordination can help keep you at the top of your game while doing the activities you enjoy.” This is not surprising news, but let’s keep reading.


The article continues by stating “if you already include strength training in your exercise routine, much of what you already do can help improve balance. Some popular modifications in resistance training, for example, performing exercises while on a Bosu or stability ball, can also improve balance and agility.” I usually draw a crowd of onlookers when I attempt to use a Bosu ball — not because I exceed 5,000 reps of the exercise but because I cannot complete one rep without kissing the mat.

Text associated with the following four exercises was taken from the original article as was the one picture I included below.

Chair stand

2013-1114 chairstandPlace a small pillow at the back of your chair and position the chair so that the back of it is resting against a wall. Sit at the front of the chair, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and slightly apart. Lean back on the pillow in a half- reclining position with your arms crossed and your hands on your shoulders. Keeping your back and shoulders straight, raise your upper body forward until you are sitting upright. Stand up slowly, using your hands as little as possible. Slowly sit back down. Aim for eight to 12 repetitions. Rest and repeat.

Side leg raise

Wearing an ankle weight, stand behind a sturdy chair with your feet together. Hold on to the back of the chair for balance. Slowly raise your right leg straight out to the side until your foot is eight inches off the floor. Keep your knee straight. Pause. Slowly lower your foot to the floor. Do eight to 12 repetitions. Repeat with your left leg. Rest and repeat the sets.

Standing calf raise

Stand with your feet flat on the floor. Hold on to the back of your chair for balance. Raise yourself up on tiptoe, as high as possible. Hold briefly, and then lower yourself. Aim for eight to 12 repetitions. Rest and repeat.

Hip extension

Wearing an ankle weight, stand 12 inches behind a sturdy chair. Holding on to the back of the chair for balance, bend your trunk forward 45 degrees. Slowly raise your right leg straight out behind you. Lift it as high as possible without bending your knee. Pause. Slowly lower the leg. Aim for eight to 12 repetitions. Repeat with your left leg. Rest and repeat the sets.

Although the Harvard article is simple to understand and it includes drawings that make the simple descriptions even easier to understand, I believe the article overlooks one significant issue — the cause of balance problems. I am not suggesting that all similar articles are bad, nor am I suggesting that the original article is flawed. The original article may, in fact, be extremely useful to some readers. I am simply suggesting the article could have been better. However, even as is, the article may be a good starting point for discussing solutions to balance problems.


  • Is your balance challenge the result of a brain injury?
  • Is your balance challenge the result of an ear problem?
  • Is your balance challenge the result of drinking alcohol or using drugs?
  • Do simple exercises, such as those described in the original article, really help?
  • Does rigorous exercise such as lifting weights, climbing stairs, or cycling help?
  • What medicine, herbs, exercise, or therapy works best for you?
  • What makes the challenge worse?


Click here to read the original article upon which this post is based.

Thanks to Harvard Health Publications, the Harvard Medical School, and all the other people who directly and indirectly made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.


  1. Hi Scott,
    I like this article very much. The exercises sound great and I want to add them to the group I already do.
    Thank you for the new ideas.

    1. Nancy,

      I am happy to hear that you have found a use for the exercises. Feel free to share your thoughts more often. Please let me know how the exercises work for you.


  2. Hi Scott-
    I have been working out at the gym for about 4 months now. I use the Bosu ball for a few of my regular exercises. It does help with my balance and I believe it has helped strengthen my core. The other thing that I’ve found helpful are Silver Sneaker classes at my local gym. They focus on aerobics and strength, but also on balance and coordination which are each helping me improve my overall health. In addition the exercise really has improved my ability to sleep. I highly recommend some sort of daily exercise–anything where we are moving! Thanks for another great post!

    1. Cheryl,

      I don’t doubt the benefits of a Bosu; I am not ready yet. Exercise has been a fantastic tool for recovery. It helps me sleep, think, remember, enjoy life, laugh, and dream. Most importantly, it has given me the confidence to successfully battle any negativity that might be lurking nearby. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.


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