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)


December Health: Body and Mind Balance Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Stay calm and in a balanced state of mind (and body) during Christmas time. Take it easy. Enjoy all of the days leading up to Christmas. And give your body healthy ‘Christmas’ treats every day:

Fitness Christmas Calender Tip # 2

Stand on one leg now. Stand for 30-60 sec. (max. 120 sec.) on each leg.

Work on your balance, while you are waiting for the bus or standing in line at the food mart (lift one foot discreetly) or while you are watching Christmas shows/films on tv.

Christmas decoration

Avoid mental and boidily ‘instability’.

You want more? An extra challenge, while balancing on one leg?

1. Look up and down, as if nodding “yes, yes”.
2. Look to the right and left, as if shaking your head “no, no”.

Easier version: Hold onto something initially. More difficult: Move the free leg.

Stability training is essential trining for keeping the body in balance and restoring balance in challenging situations. Get ‘stable’ for health and performance.

111 Excellent Reasons for Exercising: Choose Life and Fitness

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

You already know, that fitness is good for you. But not just that. Fitness exercise is fun and it works:
There are all kinds of fitness exercise for both sexes, all ages, all levels and in  many forms; one and one fitness, two and two fitness, group fitness, soft fitness, hard fitness, indoor fitness, outdoor fitness, land fitness, water fitness, cold fitness, hot fitness, bodyweight fitness, equipment fitness, machine fitness.
There are no limits. So there should be no lack of motivation?
However, just in case, here are (not just the usual 10) 111 excellent reasons for doing fitness exercise. 

Fitness and exercise for health, performance and wellness

  1. Improves mood; increases happiness level.
  2. Increases energy level, more mental and physical strength.
  3. Improves sex; increases desire, agility and stamina.
  4. Reduces stress, eases tension short-term and long-term.
  5. Relaxes and calms you.
  6. Energizes you, reduces general fatigue.
  7. Fights depression.
  8. Trains your brain, creates new synapses, ‘nerve cell junctions’.
  9. Prevents cognitive deterioration, e.g. dementia.
  10. Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease (loss of brain function and memory a.o.).
  11. Reduces risk of Parkinson’s disease (slow movements, stiffness and shaking, because of lack of dopamine in the brain).
  12. Reduces neck pain, headaches and migraine.
  13. Improves concentration.
  14. Improves the ability to relax (mind and muscles).
  15. Sharpens your senses.
  16. Increases self-confidence.
  17. Improves self-worth.
  18. Improves creativity, because of more oxygen and clarity.
  19. Increases wellness.
  20. Increases longevity, e.g. strength training is superior for anti-aging.
  21. Prevents age related loss of muscles, maintains muscle mass.
  22. Helps maintain function in old age.
  23. Prevents overweight and obesity.
  24. Helps slimming in the right way; promotes fat loss.
  25. Assists weight maintenance; life long healthy weight.
  26. Improves body composition; better muscle to fat ratio.
  27. Shapes, tones and builds muscles for a better-looking body.
  28. Improves you skin; improved blood circulation and elasticity.
  29. Improves general stamina, mentally and physically.
  30. Improves immune defence (is, however, weakened after exercise, from 8 hours to 3 days, depending on intensity and duration).
  31. Prevents metabolic syndrome; Abdominal fat, insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperlipidemia (high lipid levels).
  32. Prevents and improves hyperlipidemia, too high concentration of cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) in your blood.
  33. Prevents atherosclerosis.
  34. Lowers ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol.
  35. Increases ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol.
  36. Increases blood vessel elasticity.
  37. Reduces the risk of blood clots.
  38. Strengthens your heart; a stronger heart pumps more blood.
  39. Lowers resting heart rate; less wear on the heart and arteries.
  40. Increases the number of capillaries (small blood vessels) resulting in better oxygen supply.
  41. Increases the number of mitochondria (small ‘energy factories in the muscle cells).
  42. Increases work capacity; increased capacity, when the body is under pressure, stress.
  43. Improves metabolic fitness.
  44. Improves cardiovascular fitness.
  45. Increases caloric expenditure during exercise.
  46. Increases caloric expenditure after exercise, afterburn (EPOC).
  47. Increases caloric expenditure during rest.
  48. Increases fat burning during endurance training and improves the ability to conserve energy, glucose, during endurance training.
  49. Improves insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake.
  50. Reduces lactic acid build up during submaximal training.
  51. Improves oxygen uptake.
  52. Strengthens the respiratory muscles; stronger breathing.
  53. Lowers blood pressure (reduces hypertension), which limits wear to the heart and vessels and reduces risk of disease.
  54. Strengthens your muscles.
  55. Improves power (explosive strength).
  56. Improves muscle endurance.
  57. Increases body awareness.
  58. Improves fine and gross motor skills.
  59. Improves coordination, control of arms, legs and core.
  60. Improves coordination of balls and equipment.
  61. Improves timing.
  62. Improves reaction (time).
  63. Improves rhythm.
  64. Improves spacial awareness.
  65. Improves general stability.
  66. Improves static balancing; e.g. standing on your toes.
  67. Improves dynamic balancing; e.g. stair walking or hopping.
  68. Reduces the risk of falling and having an accident, e.g. a fracture.
  69. Improves agility, reaction and quickness.
  70. Improves performance in all sports.
  71. Increases the enjoyment of all recreational activities.
  72. Increases the suppleness of the muscles.
  73. Prevents tightness and limited mobility.
  74. Increases range of motion, ROM, making all movements easier.
  75. Reduces pain, discomfort and disease due to limited ROM.
  76. Improves posture, gives a healthier, stronger, slender look.
  77. Improves sleep quality.
  78. Improves vision; not the lens, but the ability to use the eyes better; focus on things up close and at a distance and peripheral vision.
  79. Provides fresh air (during outdoor activity; preferably in clean air).
  80. Provides time and opportunity for self-development.
  81. Gives new experiences and variety.
  82. Gives something else to talk about than the weather and tv.
  83. You see, hear, feel (touch), smell (and maybe taste) something new.
  84. You have a good time with family and friends.
  85. You meet new friends.
  86. You find a boyfriend or a girlfriend (spouse).
  87. Prevent, cure or relieve type 2-diabetes.
  88. Improve general health and insulin sensitivity in type 1-diabetes.
  89. Prevent certain forms of cancer, fx colon, breast, prostate.
  90. Improves health and resilience during cancer disease.
  91. Prevents and relieves many cardiovascular diseases.
  92. Prevents, cures and improves chance of surviving ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis.
  93. Prevents and reduces atherosclerosis of the legs (claudicatio intermittens).
  94. Improves the chance of survival and reduces fatigue following heart failure (various conditions).
  95. Improves function, gait, motor skills and tactile function following stroke.
  96. Prevents and cures osteoporosis.
  97. Prevents, cures or relieves many musculoskeletal disorders.
  98. Prevents, cures or relieves back aches or back pain (strengthens, stabilises and moves).
  99. Prevents, reduces or relieves many hip problems.
  100. Prevent, reduces or relieves many knee problems.
  101. Improves resilience and reduces pain of fibromyalgia, diffuse tendon and muscle pain of minimum 3 months duration.
  102. Prevent, reduces or relieves osteoarthritis.
  103. Improves resilience and relieves rheumatoid arthritis.
  104. Improves strength, stamina and insulin sensitivity, health (some evidence), of women with PCOS, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (multiple cysts in the ovaries), and related conditions.
  105. Improves function, gait, resilience and quality of life of sclerosis sufferers (disseminated or multiple sclerosis), an autoimmune disease affecting the the brain and nervous system; lack of muscle control, numbness and fatique.
  106. Improves resilience and relieves hypersensitivity (e.g. allergy).
  107. Improves resilience and and quality of life of HIV-infected (no impact on virus or immune system).
  108. Improves stamina, ventilation and quality of life of asthma sufferers.
  109. Prevents, cures or relieves certain mental disorders in different ways, e.g. anxiety and schizophrenia.
  110. Improves stamina and reduces fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome, persistent exhaustion and various symptoms, e.g. fever, muscle pain, headache a.o.
  111. Improves resilience and ventilation, and relieves and reduces fatigue of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease sufferers.

It sounds almost too good to be true, but it is true.

Requirements: It is dream fitness, according to needs and desires (possible following ‘basic training’) and healthy fitness, individually adapted to health, form, physique and goals, e.g. specific in relation to frequency, intensity, time (duration) and type in order to elicit the expected results.

Fitness for all.


Fysisk aktivitet – haandbog om forebyggelse og behandling
Sundhedsstyrelsen (2011)

Pedersen, Bente Klarlund (2003): Recept paa motion – motion som forebyggelse. NNF.

Pedersen, Bente Klarlund (2005): Motion paa recept – motion som behandling. NNF.

Aagaard, Marina (2006): Fitness – i bedre form på kortere tid.

Aagaard, Marina (2012): Fitness og styrketraening – oevelser, programmer og metoder.

10 Top Tips: Get The Most Out Of Your Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Don’t waste your time! Check these 10 expert tips, based on motivation theory and advanced sports science, and get the most out of your training time.

Få Mest Muligt Ud af Din MotionFå Mest Muligt ud af Træningen      Få Mere Ud af Din Træning og motivation

1. Find your internal motivation, find out what’s fun and meaningful in training: 1) It feels good working up a sweat and feeling the muscles work, 2) you get to know your body, 3) you get more energy, perform better and can do things, you couldn’t do before.
Alternatively for external motivation: Put up a photo on your fridge of training or an athlete, that inspires you or give yourself a reward for reaching one of your training goals.

2. Enjoy your favourite form of training: Try different things; dance, martial arts, fitness, group exercise, individual exercise, ball games, racket sport, water sport. What motivates you the most, gives you the greatest chance of starting, committing and adhering to it.

3. Do cross training, mix different training modalities and activities; mix cardio, strength, coordination and balance, flexibility, indoor and outdoor, in the water or on the ground, with or without equipment, with or without music. The body and mind loves variety. It improves your motor skills and provides all-round fitness.

4. Do strength training, e.g. 3 times a week, 20-30 min. pr. time: It improves your metabolism, increases energy expenditure during workouts and recovery. It reduces the risk of injury and improves everyday and sports performance. And it’s easy!

5. Surprise your body. Your body reacts especially well to unfamiliar training, so dig out forgotten exercises and activities, e.g. hula-hooping or football. Or vary your advanced strength exercises with basic, heavy training.

6. Change your program regularly, every 4-6 weeks, to keep the motivation and stimulate the muscles to respond even better.
The exception: If you still progress and is happy with your program.

7. Organize your training in your calendar or a training log. Set time aside for training, get into a good rhythm. This is the basis for lasting result-oriented training habits and gives an overview of your training pattern; indicates if you undertrain or (rare) overtrain.

8. Set goals, a dream goal is fine, but split it up into realistic smaller goals: Taking small steps ‘Small Increment’ technique is brilliant and doable. See to, that your goal setting is SMART, Specific, Measurable – e.g. from 0-1 mile in 5 weeks – Accepted, Realistic and Timed. And in particular: Test yourself to see how you progress, fitness testing is a very motivating activity.

9. Train with a partner. Training with one or more people, e.g. group exercise, has proved to increase exercise adherence and a partner can support you and help you to increased (heavier weight, higher speed) performance.
If you prefer to work out on your own, then let your heart rate monitor, training log, training app or your workout music be ‘your partner’.

10. Make your diet and lifestyle enhance your training. Drink approx. 2 liters of water every day throughout the day. Eat in moderation and eat healthy, whole-grain, vegetables and healthy proteins and oils (e.g. oily fish).
Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. You get more out of your training and faster.
Also: See to that your training clothes and shoes have a comfortable fit, let you move with easy and are sweat-transporting (and lay it out ready for use).
This makes a difference and enhance your training experience.

Look See! Top Performance Tip!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Who doesn’t want to perform better? Who doesn’t want to attain optimal results in minimal time? It can be done! Even if it sounds too good to be true …

In 1 minute with just 3 supereasy exercises you can improve vision, concentration, strength, flexibility and balance by 10-30 %!

Top Tip 

Don’t watch that, watch this.
Exercises so easy, it’s a bliss. 
Yet so powerful, you can see it is!
Eyes circle left, eyes circle right.
In ‘H’, up’n’down, far’n’near, ‘high as a kite’ …
for amazing performance, what a sight!

To see just how effective vision training is, you can test yourself. Or, even better, have a partner test you; because from the outside, you can clearly see how the body reacts; if you are new to vision training, your head and body often move instead of the eyes.

Try these two tests, before you do the exercises and after each of them:

  • Stand with feet together. Bend over and see how close the hands get to the floor.
  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Arme straight and forward with hands together. Lower body does not move. Rotate the torso to the side, right and left. See how far your can turn.

Performance Exercises
Starting position:
 Seated or standing. Supine if balance is very poor.
1 ballpoint-pen or similar.
Movement:: All three exercises: Hold the pen with one hand in front of the face.
Focus on the tip. Keep your head, neck and body motionless. Only the eyes should move.
Perform each exercise 3-4 times – you can re-test after each exercise.
Note: Initially, when you are not used to vision training, you may get tired and perform worse, so progress slowly. 

Exercise 1
Move the pen in a large circle, first one way, eg. 3-4 times. Then the other way.

Exercise 2
Move the pen in an H-pattern, up and down at one side, up and down at the other side, and then from side to side in horizontal plane..

Exercise 3
Hold your pen in front of your nose. Move the pen straight forward and back, in and out. Start as far out as possible and move the pen (close) to the nose. Keep focusing.

The results are phenomenal. Try it for yourself, try it today.

Learn more about performance and vision training here: Z-Health.