"Our balance declines as we age because our muscles become weaker and the inner-ear receptors that sense movement stiffen," says Daniel Ferris, PhD, a professor of movement science and director of the Human Neuromechanics Laboratory at the University of Michigan. "But everybody can get better with practice." These moves improve both static balance (holding a steady pose) and dynamic balance (training your brain and muscles to react quickly when you're in motion). Yes, a few are wacky—but you feel younger when you don't take yourself so seriously.

Static Balances

Brush your teeth flamingo-style. Stand on your right leg one morning, your left leg the next. Once you master that, close your eyes.

Try tai chi. One study found that a small group of practitioners in their late 60s scored in the 90th percentile on measures of stability. And research has shown that regular practice can reduce falls by up to 45 percent.

Do the "kneeling Superman." To develop core strength—essential for good balance—try this while watching TV: Get on all fours, then extend your left arm in front of you, your right leg behind. Hold for up to 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Dynamic Balances

Put it in reverse. When you're going to the refrigerator during a commercial break or getting ready for bed, walk backward. (If you have pets running through the house or you've just enjoyed a glass of Chardonnay, be careful.)

Walk a "tightrope." Follow the edge of a sidewalk, placing one foot in front of the other, and try to make it to the corner without stumbling.

Take up the tango. It's a surprisingly effective way to blend dynamic balance with static poses, says Ferris.


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