In fact, balance training actually improves memory and spatial cognition, research
has shown. Balance exercises also require the attention and focus of your brain to steady yourself and maintain your equilibrium.
Fancy balance exercises aren't required; something as simple as balancing on one foot with your hands out in front of you can work. But if you're looking for a way to step it up and improve your balance while building core stability and overall muscle strength, check out our five-minute balance routine below.
This routine can be done barefoot on a yoga mat. Performing exercises barefoot helps enhance your proprioception, or your awareness of your body in space. Plus, because you can't rely on shoes for support, you'll be forced to engage the stabilizing tendons and ligaments in your ankles, knees and hips to maintain balance.
Each dynamic exercise (meaning one that requires you to move through the exercise) should be performed slowly. And each static exercise (one that requires you to hold a certain position) should be held while breathing slowly. Through dynamic and static exercises, your body and mind will work together to create more balance both inside your mind and outside for your body.
For all of the following exercises, be sure to pick a focal point to look at that's a few feet in front of you on the floor. Or, you can choose a spot on the wall in front of you to focus on.
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Side lunge to center balance
Standing on your yoga mat with your feet as wide as your hips, step the right foot to the right. Bend the right knee and reach the right glute behind you as if you are sitting on a chair. Keep the left leg straight. Pull the naval in toward the spine.
Then slowly push off of your right foot to come back to center. Without putting your foot on the ground, bring the right knee toward your chest and balance.
Then step the right foot out to the right into a side lunge again and repeat.
Repeat 10 times to the right, and then switch to perform 10 times to the left.
Arm and leg extension
Come down to your mat onto your hands and knees. Line up your wrists so that they're parallel to the center of the mat and directly beneath your shoulders. Line up your knees underneath your hips and open them as wide as your hips.
Pull your naval in toward the spine and reach the right arm forward. Relax the shoulder as you reach the arm and fingertips forward.
Extend your left leg behind you and flex the left foot, keeping the left leg straight. Balance on your right knee and your left hand for one second, then place the right hand and left knee down onto the ground into the starting position.
Repeat 10 times like this, and then switch to extend the right leg and the left arm to do 10 repetitions.
Stand up with your feet as wide as your hips. Then shift your balance onto your left foot while lifting up your right foot off of the ground. Grab your right ankle with your right hand to place the right foot to the left inner thigh. Press the inner thigh into the foot to help with balance. Pull your abs in and press your hands together in a prayer position at the center of your chest.