Balancing for fitness and fun: Balance exercises for home and travel

By Marina Aagaard, MFT. Photo: Henrik Elstrup. Location: Aros. My Rainbow Panorama
Better balance in everyday life and sport? Do balance training anytime, anywhere. Indoors and outdoors. At every possibility e.g. when waiting for a train or a plane: It is ‘free’ training for the brain and muscles, strength, stability and mobility. 

Here I am balancing at Aros Museum, Aarhus, a popular city to visit says Lonely Planet.


Many muscles a.o. stabilizing muscles of the legs and core.

Starting position

  • Stand firmly on stand leg foot.
  • Straight back, upright position, straight leg with relaxed knee.
  • Neck in neutral position. Gaze at a fixed point.
  • The free leg is in a specific position depending on the variation (see below).
  • The arms in a specific position depending on variation and preference (see below).


  • Stand on one leg.
  • Keep your arms on your chest (for a one-leg balance test) or sides (for a stork-balance test) or overhead (typical for the yoga tree exercise).
    Other arm positions are also possible and recommended as variations.
  • Keep the free leg bent. Often you support the free leg foot at opposite knee – e.g. for a balance test).
    Knee is in front, to the side of or behind the body.
    Or hold the free leg straight and lifted (for athletes) to the front, the side or the back.
  • Keep the balance from a few seconds up to 2 minutes. Then increase difficulty.
  • Eyes open. Or close one eye at a time. Or close both eyes.

Single-leg balance

On one foot firmly on the floor. Free foot by stand leg knee. Arms crossed at the chest.

Stork Balance

On the ball of the foot, heel lifted well above the floor. Free foot by stand leg knee. Hands at the sides.

Yoga Tree

On one foot firmly on the floor. Free legs rotated outward with the foot placed high on inner thigh (adductors). Hands – palms together – over head.


On one foot firmly on the floor. Free leg is bent 90 degrees, the thigh is next to or behind stand leg. Arm position is optional.


T-balance (sagittal scale)

On one foot firmly on the floor. Body forward in a horizontal position. Free leg and torso aligned. Arms back or out. Can also be done with body turned sideways, frontal position (frontal scale).

Training Volume

You can do bodyweight balances every day if you desire.

Enjoy your workout.

Balance test for health (stroke risk)


Travel fitness: 100 Workout Basic Step Raw circuit training

Af Marina Aagaard, MFT

The 100 Workout of the day is based on the seven basic steps of Sports Aerobic plus three variations. A cardiovascular, and maybe stamina, workout.
For fast and easy exercise in the gym, at the job, at home or when you travel.

100 workouts are popular time-efficient circuit training workouts with a common feature:

10 or fewer exercises repeated 10-100 times or for a period of 10-100 seconds.
There are numerous models. Here is an easy one.

I designed this for Travel Fitness and for Ski Fitness (part of workout) and it works; your heart rate and energy level increases – as well as energy consumption.

The workout consists of raw basic steps in mixed impact with the feet in and out of contact with the surface, but it can be adapted as desired for pure

High impact, with propulsion, both feet leave the ground (replace walk with gallop).

Low impact, with one foot on the ground at all times (replace jack with step out jack).

Too hard? Lower intensity by using smaller movements and slower tempo.

Too easy? Increase intensity by using bigger movements and faster tempo.


100 Workout Basic Step Raw

90 JOG or RUN
80 SKIP low skip, variation: 20 legs front, 20 side, 20 back, 20 front
70 KNEELIFT, low impact or high impact – maybe double tempo high knees
60 KICK, variation: 20 high kick front, 20 side, hip abduction, 20 back, hip extension
50 JUMPING JACK, high impact, or low impact, step out jack
40 LUNGE tap back low impact, 20 basic, 20 right/left or high impact jump lunge
30 JUMP focus on being light on your toes
20 TWIST jump feet side to side, 180 degrees
10 SQUAT JUMP parallel squat and high jump

100 Workouts

  • Fast workout for cardiovascular exercise og strength-endurance.
  • Principle: 100-90-80-70-60-50-40-30-20-10. Number of repetitions or seconds.
  • Circuit principle: 1-3 rounds. Start over after last movement.

Warning 1: When working out within a time frame, do not get sloppy, maintain good form.

Warning 2: Many 100 workouts result in extra muscle fatigue. Be careful, avoid injury.

Warning 3: Many 100 workouts promise a set number of kJ burned. May happen or not.

Fitness and Exercise: Yoga versus Not Yoga?

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Too difficult, too time consuming, too strange? Yoga versus not yoga? It doesn’t have to be either or. Yoga can be a lifestyle or it can be a frequent or less frequent supplement in your training or sports regimen – adapted to your personal needs.

So the choice is not difficult: Yoga.

Yoga can be anything from breathing exercises and meditation over stretching, balancing and resistance training to daily physical, mental and spiritual practises.

You decide how and how much or how little.


For years I thought, that yoga was too demanding and time consuming. Now I practice it fairly often and when travelling it is a very nice and easy way to keep fit and well.

Have you not tried yoga yet? Give it a go, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Sun salutation A for beginners

Sun salutation B for intermediate level

Stability Ball Workout Design: Working out with the big ball

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Swiss ball or stability workouts are fun and effective and provide variety as part of a general exercise program. The ball workout format is the same as other workouts for personal training or group exercise. 


The workout can have a traditional resistance training format with 1-3 sets of 6-10 repetitions of each exercise, from 6-16 exercises depending on difficulty and intensity. And a 1-2 minute rest-pause between exercises. Or:

The workout can be performed as circuit training with 8-12 exercises and 30-60 seconds of each exercise (or 6-12 repetitions of each exercise) for 1-3 rounds.
All exercises should be adapted for the purpose and the person(s) working out.

Exercise suggestions

  • Squats and lunges with the ball as a prop
  • Chest and triceps via push ups
  • Lat work via roll outs
  • Back extension
  • Ab curl and oblique curl
  • Bridges and alternating superman
  • Planks and side planks

The structure may vary according to needs and preference, but here is an example of a group exercise swiss ball or stability ball class:


Part of class | Duration | Music tempo

  • Introduction | 1-2 minutes | No music
  • Warm-up | 5-15 minutes| 120-130 BPM (or no music)
  • Cardio (optional) | 20 minutes+ | 120-135 BPM (or no music)
  • Resistance exercise / balance | 20-60 minutes | 90-130 BPM (or no music)
  • Cool down / stretching | 5-15 minutes + | < 110 BPM (or no music)
  • Outro / closure | 1-2 minutes | No music

A typical swiss ball / stability ball class has no cardio section as this is not the primary focus, but it is possible to have som fun and/or challenge drills for light cardio work.

For more exercises:

Stability ball exercises (500 exercises for cardio, strength, stability and flexibility)

10 Question Fitness Quiz: Are truly you fit enough?

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

You body is phenomenal. It has the capacity for incredible feats. There is a latent, potential, power surplus, which comes into force, when needed.
Furtermore you can condition your body to perform better – perhaps even super good – in general. Start making yourself superfit from now on.


Does your body perform as well as you would like it to?

If yes. That is great; build on that or maintain that status.

If no. No worries. You can do something about it.

No matter who you are and what your fitness level is: Ask yourself these 10 questions:


Do I have:

1..Good stamina? Can I walk, run or cycle very far, for long, without problems?

2. Good cardiovascular fitness? Can I sprint or stair run (without stopping (too soon))?

3. Good strength? Can I lift myself and heavy objects, jump high or squat deep?

4. Good strength-endurance? Can I carry things (bags, rucksacks) around for hours?

5. Good mobility? Can I move freely? Are my movements unrestricted?

6. Good balance? Am I stable on one leg and in end ranges of motion?

7. Good motor control? Can I coordinate arms and legs, follow a rhythm, catch a ball?

8. Good agility? Can I get around quickly and easily; up, down, under, over with ease?

9. Good adaptability? Can I switch with ease; light, heavy, slow, fast, inside, outdoors?

10. God mental capacity? Am I positive, balanced, motivated and focused?

Score | Number of yes-answers:

0-3 Good. You have room for improvement. Start by strengthening weaker areas.

4-7 Better. You have potential. Work on improving both stronger and weaker areas.

8-10 Best. A strong base for top performances; maintain or progress (great for brain) .

Action: Act now:

During everyday living as well as sports all the above capacities are important to varying degrees. And in special sports, leisure and travel activities you will find, that a good performance in these areas will ensure better, more fun experiences and less risk of low energy levels, poor performance or even acute or overuse injuries.

Sometimes life challenges you with mentally or physically taxing situations.

The more prepared you are, the easier and more enjoyable everything is.
Become your very own ‘Ninja Warrior’.

Do not get caught off guard. Start moving your body in a variety of (novel) ways; with all kinds of all-round functional movements from today and onwards:

Creep, crawl, walk, jog, wog, run, hop, leap, jump, lift, pull, push, heave, swing, hang, climb, throw, catch, balance, twist and more.

You do that already? Then seek greater challenges.

You can almost always move or lift more than you think.

Have an even better workout – at home or on the move!

Everyday excellent exercise: Stair walking – for fitness, fat loss and fun

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Take the stairs. It is excellent exercise. It is fun; it is an experience, you see the World (buildings) from different angles. Your legs and heart get stronger and stair walking burns lots of calories. Use the stairs in the everyday and when travelling.

A 80 kg (~160 lb) person burns approx. 9 kcal (calories) during 1 minute of stair walking.

A 80 kg (~160 lb) person burns approx. 1 kcal in 1 minute waiting for/using elevator.

Walking down stairs burns approx. 175-275 kcal per hour; 3-4,5 kcal per minute.

Walking up stairs burns approx. 530-835 kcal per hour; 8-14 kcal per minute.

Walking up and down stairs burns approx. 355-555 kcal per hour; 6-9 kcal per minute.


Unfortunately the stairs are not always visible. You may have to look for them. True story:

Portier 1: Can I help you?
Marina: Yes, I would like to use the stairs instead of the elevator.
Portier 1: Not a good idea. They are not easily accessible and rather narrow, not safe.
Marina: (Facial expression: ?????????????????) But, I prefer taking the stairs.
Portier 1: (Facial expression: ?????). Well, then I will have someone taking you up.
Portier 2: (Leading the way. Points to stairs. Walks away).
Marina: (Walk the stairs. Breathe loudly. Count. 4:40) ... 537, 538, 539, 540!


Happy health. Fun Fitness: Peak Performance.

Interval training: Fun fitness 10-20-30 Method for Running and Spinning

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Looking for interval training variety? Try this special version of interval training for exercisers of all ages and fitness levels for increased motivation, cardiovascular fitness and fatburning. The method is excellent for running and indoor cycling.

The method is called 10-20-30 and is developed by Danish researchers at the Center for Team Games and Health, University of Copenhagen. It has been tested with great success and is super for interval training variety.

  • More muscle mass
  • Stronger bones
  • Lower body fat
  • Better cardiovascular fitness
  • Better running [or cycling] performance.


The method is different from typical interval training with work and rest intervals.
It consists of three-part sets, which are repeated.

  • 30 seconds Walking [cycling] or very slow running (jogging)
  • 20 seconds Running [cycling] in a moderate or fast tempo
  • 10 seconds Fast running [sprinting]
  • Every 30-20-10 part is repeated 5 times, that is five repetitions without rest-pause, so a set (or block) lasts 5 minutes.
  • Between each set, there is a 2 minute rest-pause.
  • You can repeat the set 2-4 times: 5+2+5+2+5+2+5+2 minutes = 28 minutes in total.
    [Note: Last 2 minutes can be a pause before more training or a cooldown].

Repetitions (30-20-10) initially (or onwards): 5

Sets (blocks of 5 rep.): 2-4

Pause: 2 minutes between sets.

Duration: Approx. 28-38 min. workout, including a 10 min. warm-up.

Happy workout!