This weekend’s exercise promotes coordination and balance to help you prevent dangerous falls. It also targets the muscles in the shoulders, arms, buttocks, and legs, stimulating bone growth in the corresponding areas.

So let’s get started with the Strengthening Balance Enhancer!

Why:

Among the older population, most fractures are the result of falls. So strengthening the muscles involved in balance is one of the most important actions you can do to avoid falls that could end up in a fracture.

And, of course, building your bones’ tensile strength and density is equally important. The way to do that is through bone-smart nutrition and by working your muscles to stimulate growth in the corresponding bones, as per Wolff’s Law.

As Savers know, Wolff’s Law states that the action of muscle and gravity on bone, as in weight-bearing exercise, stimulates the formation of new bone, thus strengthening the bone and increasing density.

Some bones are more prone to fracture than others, but any bone can break, broadly speaking. Today’s exercise strengthens the bones in the arms, shoulders, legs, and buttocks. I’d like to take a moment to look at these particular bones and why strengthening them is important.

  • The humerus bone is the bone in the upper arm. Your triceps are connected to this bone, and they are worked in today’s exercise. A strong humerus is, of course, more fracture resistant. But a humerus bone that has been strengthened through regular, targeted exercise is also better aligned in the socket, so the shoulders are rotated back in good postural form.
  • The shoulder joint is made up of four joints often referred to as the shoulder girdle. The first joint is where the head of the humerus joins the scapula (shoulder blade). The second joint is where the clavicle (collar bone) meets the scapula. The third joint is more toward the front, where the clavicle joins with the sternum (breast bone). And finally, the fourth joint is where the scapula connects with the ribs at the back of the chest.

    The shoulder’s movement is really quite remarkable as all these joints and bones work together to perform movements like raising your arm. Some aspects of this complex joint network are more prone to fracture than others – ribs and the clavicle, for example, are more likely to fracture in the event of a fall than the scapula or humerus. Moves like today’s exercise strengthen all the joints and bones of the shoulder, helping to “fracture-proof” the entire area.

  • The femur is the longest bone in your body. When you work your quadriceps and hamstrings, the femur gets stimulated, too. The femur makes up both the hip and the knee joint, and strong muscles and a strong femur are vital for stabilizing both. If you’ve ever taken bisphosphonates, then femoral strength is a particular concern, as these drugs can weaken the femur and cause atypical fractures.
  • The ankles are, unfortunately, somewhat prone to fracture. The bones that usually fracture in the event of an ankle break are the lower part of the tibia or fibula (more on these bones below). As you’ll see in today’s challenge, the moves in the Strengthening Balance Enhancer work the ankles and help stabilize them.
  • The fibula and tibia (lower leg bones) connect to the muscles in the calf and shin. The fibula “floats” behind the tibia, providing stability and balance. The end of the tibia makes the bump on the inside of the ankle, while the end of the fibula makes the bump on the outside of your ankle.
  • The pelvis is another example of a fracture-prone area, especially in the elderly. Hip fractures can be a very serious injury, requiring long recovery time. The buttocks muscles, or glutes, must be strong to support the pelvis and keep it aligned, and of course to strengthen the bone itself.

Here’s how to do the Strengthening Balance Enhancer that targets the above bones and more.

How:

You’ll need a small hand weight for this – choose something that is comfortable for you. You can use a can of food or a water bottle if you prefer. In addition, stand near a bed, wall, chair, etc. to catch yourself in case you lose your balance.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the weight in one hand – for the sake of clarity, let’s start with the right hand.
  3. Raise your right arm up over your head, palm facing out, and bend your right elbow to bring the weight down behind your head.
  4. At the same time, bend your right knee and bring your left leg behind you in a “curtsy” type motion.
  5. Bend both knees to go into a full squat. When you come back up, bring the weight up and over your head, slightly out to the side.
  6. At the same time as you do #5, bring your left leg out to the side in a sideways leg-lift.
  7. Bring the left leg back down and in again, and repeat steps four through seven. Repeat eight to 10 times, or however many you’re comfortable with.
  8. Switch sides and do another eight to 10 repetitions.

You may find this a bit challenging at first, but one of the points of this exercise is to enhance balance and coordination, and working opposite sides of the body at the same time helps accomplish that.

As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to have a chair or any stable structure handy in case you lose your balance.

If you’d like more exercises that accomplish similar goals, you can try these Weekend Challenges that target similar muscle groups and bones: the Balance Booster and the Dynamic Balance Improver. You might find that starting with one or both of these challenges will make it easier for you to do this weekend’s challenge.

That’s why it’s so important to know your own body and individual fitness level as you develop your own well-rounded bone-building exercise plan. While the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System contains a structured week-by-week exercise sequence, you are free to choose the exercises that work best for you (there are 52 exercises) and that match your fitness level best, especially at first.

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For example, if you would like to work the muscles of your upper back but can’t lie on the floor (as some upper-back exercises require), you could choose the Chair Dips (page 17) or Marching Jacks (page 51) instead. You’re sure to find something that works for your individual situation in Densercise™.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s challenge! Please feel free to share your experience by posting a comment below.

Have a great weekend!

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16 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Stella Louise Perry May 4, 2016, 10:56 am

    Hi: I fell on 3/18/16 while pushing the grocery cart. I have a compression fracture on my L 1 disk my Lumbar spine, this is the 6th wk. I feel a little better but I went to the market for the 1st time last wk spent about 2 hrs there, now my lumbar back is so painful. Do you think these exercises would be good for me to try or wait till I go to the phyizziatrist? Thanks SLP

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA May 5, 2016, 8:05 pm

      When it comes to fractures, Stella, you want to be very careful with exercise. I suggest you check with your physiatrist first, as you suggested.

  2. Marlene Villar April 20, 2016, 11:12 am

    Good morning Vivian,
    This is one of my favorite exercises that you continue
    sharing with us. Thank you very much, Vivian.
    Have a wonderful day. Marlene

  3. Norma April 19, 2016, 6:46 pm

    What is the worst number and the best number you can have on a density test?

  4. anita marks April 18, 2016, 4:51 am

    Thank you sooo much for all the advice receiving from these amazingly helpful emails from you. I truly appreciate all you doing to assist us!!

    Regards n love

    Anita
    Port Elizabeth
    South Africa

  5. L.D. Long April 16, 2016, 8:04 pm

    I’m not a fan of this not being able to see whats been posted and having to leave a new message just to see the activity of the day. May be time to do things differently.. No offense to anyone controlling the site…

  6. L.D. Long April 16, 2016, 4:48 pm

    Ok, I did see others once I hit submit but apparently there’s no help for me today.. I’ll try again during the week and see if someone can guide me a little…

  7. L.D. Long April 16, 2016, 4:44 pm

    I left a message this morning hoping for some help but this message is showing me no one else has commented today yet. There was one after mine also… What’s going on?

  8. TERESA OCHOA April 16, 2016, 10:41 am

    Thanks Vivian. This balance exercise, plus other ones, are going to be very helpful, while traveling to Europe, we r going to be walking a lot and any other suggestions, are appreciated, to prevent a fall.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA April 16, 2016, 11:33 am

      It sounds like this is a timely challenge for you, Teresa. 🙂 Feel free to search other weekend challenges that enhance balance. Just type in “weekend challenge balance” in the Search bar above.

  9. Grace Aisuisu April 16, 2016, 10:29 am

    Thanks Vivian i will try but with the pain i have hope will manage bit scared.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA April 16, 2016, 11:32 am

      It’s always good to exercise caution, Grace. If you feel any pain during exercise, stop.

  10. Linda April 16, 2016, 10:20 am

    I need to know if you have a scholarship program. I’ve had cancer and open heart surgery in 28onyjs of each other Can you help

  11. L.D. Long April 16, 2016, 9:24 am

    Hi Folks, This exercise will be great for me once I’m back on track. Vivian, I’ve done something really foolish and now I have a tremendous setback to deal with. While walking around my yard on Monday, I’m going to guess I pushed my capabilities too far. My ribs are now further inside my pelvic bone and middle as well as lower back are just not happy at all. If there are some low impact suggestions I can start with, I’ll be very grateful. All you savers please do add anything that works well for you. I would rather not have to “attempt” to rest and sleep in my recliner for much longer but its the only place I can get any relief at all… Thanks Vivian for all you do and savers if there’s something to share please do… LD…

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA April 16, 2016, 9:08 pm

      I’m sorry you’re experiencing pain, L.D. If you’re in doubt as to what exercises would be best for you given your current situation, please seek the advice of your physical therapist or doctor. You don’t want to hurt yourself by trying exercises that may not be right for you.

  12. Sara April 16, 2016, 9:20 am

    What has happened to Calcium Aspartate Anhydrous – I can’t find it on the website?

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