There’s no question that most adults, no matter how strong or athletic they are, are intimidated by handstands.
But just because you didn’t take gymnastics as a kid and are scared to death of falling on your head when attempting them doesn’t mean you should avoid handstands forever.
Because not only are handstands fun (I mean, really, what’s more fun than being upside down and feeling like a kid again?), they’re actually really, really good for you.
They make your upper body strong!
In order to stay in a handstand for any amount of time, you need to be able to actually hold yourself upside down—meaning you’ll be bearing your full weight on your hands for an extended period of time.
And yes, it can be pretty tiring, but they’re worth it: handstands strengthen pretty much every muscle in your arms, shoulders, and upper body, making them one of the most beneficial upper body exercises you can do.
Do handstands often, and you’ll notice you feel stronger and more confident in no time.
They build core strength
Forget crunches—do handstands instead to build up your core strength.
Because they require you to stabilize your muscles to keep from falling over, handstands not only work your abs, they also strengthen your hip flexors, hamstrings, inner thigh muscles, and spinal muscles to create a balanced, super-strong core.
They increase balance
If you’ve ever tried to do a freestanding handstand, you know that in order to stay upright for more than a half a second, you need to be able to control your muscles and make constant adjustments in order to maintain your balance.
Frequent handstand practice will skyrocket your balancing abilities—but you’ll have to get over your fear of falling first (tip: practice on a soft surface like grass or a mat, not on concrete!).
They help with bone health, circulation and breathing
When you’re upside down in a handstand, your normal blood floor inverts, increasing circulation to your upper body while relieving pressure on your feet and legs.
They also benefit your spine, increase bone health in your wrists, arms and shoulders, and stretch your diaphragm, your main breathing muscle, which in turn increases blood flow to your lungs.
They can boost your mood and regulate your metabolism
Being upside down not only makes you stronger, it can actually boost your mood, since the extra blood flow to your brain can energize and calm you when you’re feeling down or stressed out.
Handstands can even reduce production of the stress hormone, cortisol, helping to relieve minor depression and anxiety. Plus, since handstands stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands, they can actually help regulate your metobolic rate—meaning daily handstand practice could help you maintain (or reach) a healthy weight.