We All Need Some Toys
There are three simple, effective and inexpensive fitness toys that belong
at your club or in your home. In no particular order they are the BOSU ball,
balance board and foam half roll. All three of these toys challenge your
balance in unique ways making your exercise sessions more effective and fun.
Why You Need to Practice Balancing
The majority of head traumas and hip fractures are related to poor
balance. Getting older reduces your ability to balance because of increased
time sitting, a lack of leg muscle strength and reduced muscular
coordination. A well designed exercise program that includes balance
training can improve all three of these fitness deficits. The use of fitness
toys helps challenge your body in unique and fun ways enabling it to
better prepare and react to real world situations.
So let's explore the three most important fitness toys for balance:
The BOSU Ball
If you have never heard of or used the BOSU, you are missing out on a
great piece of training equipment. The BOSU is a rubber half round ball
that can be used for strength, balance and cardio conditioning. The fact
that the BOSU is soft gives it greater versatility than a standard step.
You can step on or into it depending on the type of exercise and effect you
are seeking. It can be used by people who need a softer exercise surface
due to foot or ankle pain. You can jump on top of it like a trampoline for
a great cardiovascular workout or use it to lunge into for a dynamic leg
and core strengthening effect. You can squat, press and work on your core
all on the ball as well.
The Balance Board
The balance board looks like a playground teeter-totter made of wood.
The object is to stand on the board, feet hip width apart, and balance it
parallel with the floor. By using equal amounts of foot pressure, the board
can be controlled and maintained flat and level. This toy is not as easy as
it looks but it is a wonderful exercise for increasing leg strength and
balance. Once you have mastered standing on the board then a whole variety
of exercises can be performed while balancing. You can squat, press and
work on your core on the board. There is also a second style of balance
board that is circular and provides a 360 degree balance challenge.
The Foam Half Roll
The foam half roll is a half of a cylinder of foam. It is usually 3 feet
long and has one round and one flat site. You can use both sides of the
roll but generally they are used round side down. Carefully stand on the
flat side with your feet perpendicular to the roll. You should be able to
rock the roll forwards and backwards with your toes and heels. Make sure to
space your feet about the width of your hips. Now while slightly bending
your knees, stop the roll form moving forwards and backwards. Your toes
should not touch the ground at any time. Just like with the balance board,
you can squat, press and work on your core all on the foam roll. For more
advanced rollers, you can also stand and balance long ways on the roll as
You can generally find these fitness toys at your club or any fitness
supply store. Give these toys a try and see how they can really "pump up"