Much of the balance exercise one can do to improve balance works on the leg muscles and core muscles. Balance exercise relies on repetitive movements that stress the importance of balance on one foot and on two feet, and in a variety of stances and positions. Depending on the exerciser's age and physical condition, simple exercises may be enough to improve balance significantly, while others training for sports or greater physical fitness may want a more intense workout. To start a balance exercise routine, do simple exercises and progress from there, depending on comfort level.
A simple balance exercise can be done at home or in the gym. It is helpful to have a chair or other stable object nearby for stability. Begin by standing with the feet hip-width apart, the back straight, and hands at the sides. Then, slowly lift one leg outward away from the body, ensuring the leg stays straight at the knee. Bend the leg at the hip and be sure to keep the torso straight. Hold this position for several seconds, then bring the leg back down and rest. Repeat with the opposite leg. After several repetitions, extend the leg backward at the hip instead of to the side. Do several repetitions with both legs, then rest. It is important to hold the position when the leg is off the ground to improve balance.
A more intense balance exercise includes the use of free weights. Begin with a lighter weight to determine the appropriate fitness level. One leg punches will work both balance and arm and shoulder strength. Begin by standing with feet hip-width apart. Then raise one leg off the ground, keeping it parallel to the support leg without touching it. Using free weights — one in each hand — raise one arm up above the head in a punching motion. Then drop that hand to about shoulder height and punch with the other hand. Repeat for several repetitions. Try ten repetitions to start with and determine the fitness level from there. An alternative of this exercise involves the same stance, but instead of punching upward toward the sky, punch outward as though punching at an opponent. Maintain balance on one leg throughout, then change legs.
An effective but intense balance exercise is the one-legged squat, which will also work many leg muscles. Standing with the feet hip-width apart, raise one leg a little bit off the ground. Then begin to squat on the support leg. As the squat progresses, extend the leg that was off the ground out in front of the body so it is becoming parallel to the ground. Reach with the arms extended away from the body, keeping them parallel to the ground as well. When the full squat is reached, hold the position for a moment, then rise to the start position.