Today we hear about the benefits of exercise everywhere. Our doctors tell us to exercise. There are all kinds of news segments about being active. There are radio advertisements about all kinds of exercise programs. We are told it makes us feel better: more energized, improve your mood and outlook, and even help manage stress that’s part of all of our lives.
Exercise doesn’t come natural, or easy for me. I wasn’t the most active kids in terms of playing a sport or going to the gym. I did walk, ride a bike and play various games in the neighborhood (Yes! we really did play outside all the time – besides television we didn’t have all the technology keeping us inside and sendentary like many kids are today).
After the days of playing tag, dodge ball, four square (I am dating myself!) – I didn’t start going to the gym to keep active. So fast forward to today, besides walking, I have to actively remind myself to exercise. I know it makes me feel good. I know it is great for my health. I know it can help me maintain a healthy weight so that I am at lower risk for developing different diseases associated with aging, such as heart disease and diabetes.
I have been doing better lately than for most of my adult life. The exercises of choice for me are a machine called the CardioFit, kettlebell workouts – which also serve as my strength training, push-ups and sit-ups on my stability ball (feels much better on my back than doing these on the floor), and some breathing/stretching programs. I admit I can get bored with the same things so these choices can be switched up and there are different workouts with each of them.
Let Exercise Be Part Of Your Plan For Your Good Health
My biggest excuse is that the day gets busy and I ‘don’t have time for exercise’ some days. That really is an excuse. You have to schedule in exercise, if you are really committed to it, just like you schedule other important things in your life. We are all in charge of our own good health. Your doctor will make suggestions, and ultimately treat you when you get sick. But it’s up to you to plan for your good health.
Below are 5 Simple Exercise that can help get you moving! You don’t need that gym membership. You can do a lot at home where it is convenient and you can even split your exercise into 10 minute increments, three times a day if that works better for you. It can help break up your work as well as give you an energy boost to take ten and get your exercise.
When you exercise, remember to do some kind of warm-up and finish with a few minutes of cool-down. It’s important to help you prevent injury and it actually feels pretty good to do some kind of stretching before and after. Walking also works well for before and after exercise.
1. Tricep Dips. These really do work!
Sit on the edge of a chair or bench with your hands next to your thighs. Lift your body out just in front of the chair, with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Lower yourself down so your elbows bend no more than 90 degrees and push yourself back up. Do a few small sets and build up from there. If you straightenyour legs, you increase the workout. Don’t do if you have wrist or shoulder problems.
2. Pushups. I do these on my stability ball – you get the benefit without the aches and pains if that has been your experience. Here are some variations:
When you do pushups with your hands wider than shoulder width, you get more of a shoulder and chest workout. To work more of the triceps and shoulders, bring your hands together into a diamond shape near the center of your chest. Working half pushups – either going only half way down and then back up, or starting from the floor and only pushing up half way and then going back down – will intensify your pushup workout.
3. Crunches. It is important to do crunches correctly to get the most abs benefits, and to avoid too much stress on your neck and back.
Be careful not to jerk your neck. Keep your hands behind your head and your elbows back while using your stomach muscles to lift your head and chin towards the ceiling. For added benefits, you can try lifting your legs off the ground or assuming a bicycle position with one leg bent and the other straight off of the ground.
4. Squats. I like to do these while holding my kettlebell.
If you haven’t done squats before, start by lowering yourself only a foot or so. Then work up to deeper squats to help your muscles adjust. You can Google the correct form to use, but basically you lower yourself as though you are going to sit in a chair – your knees should not extend over your feet.
If you don’t have a kettlebell, and want to take your squats to the next level, use two 2-liter bottles filled with sand – do squats while holding one in each hand.
5. Calf Raises. Calf raises are easily done wherever you can find a raised surface, like steps. If you need balance, hold onto the railing. Face the stairs and stand with only your toes on the stair and your feet extending out past it. Standing straight up, lower your body down below the level of the stair and then back up onto your toes.
This exercise is good for your calf muscles in addition to your ankles.
You can get a full body workout with just those five exercises. If you are already walking, maybe you want to increase your exercise or target a few body parts where you need some attention. If you aren’t walking, get out there during these nice weather months and get started. You can add in the extra exercise once you get moving on a regular basis.
The importance of paying attention to your body and having a plan to build better health is most beneficial to YOU. You have to want it for yourself and you have to plan for it. You will reap the results. You will feel better. You will be taking action to avoid illness and disease. You will be energized and your quality of life can improve as well as your attitude toward life.
I should end by reminding you to take it easy at first if you haven’t been active. Also you may need to check with your doctor if there are reasons why you haven’t been active, and make sure you can safely start an exercise program. You may be sore at first – that can actually be a good thing. But you don’t want to be in pain because pain means you need to stop and find out the source of the pain.
We can all take time for exercise, even if it is 15 or 30 minutes a day. You have to want it for yourself and you have to plan for it.
To learn about nutrition for exercise, read our recent article: Sports Nutrition 101: Before, During and After Workout.