It seems that every time you visit the doctor, part of the prescription always includes more exercise. However, how often do we actually follow through with this recommendation? Some studies show that 7 out of 10 Americans do not engage in weekly exercise. Lack of physical activity has been linked to more than a quarter million deaths per year.
Regular exercise not only helps one to control weight issues, but there are a wide variety of other health benefits including:
- Maintaining heart and circulation health
- Improving strength and endurance
- Elevating mood
- Promoting mental clarity
just to name a few.
Here are a handful of easy exercises to get you started on the road to physical fitness:
- Start with walking. Start your exercise program with a brisk walk. Whether you are outdoors or inside, get up and start going. Try to get 1/2 hour in daily, but start slowly–even if it’s only 5 minutes. If you can’t get outside, walk in place in the house. If you have problems with standing, you can start slowly by marching in place while seated. Make your goal to improve a little daily–maybe 5 minutes per day in week 1, 10 minutes in week 2, etc.) and soon you’ll be increasing your pace and distance traveled (not to mention your cardiovascular health).
- Strength training: upper body. Pushups are a great and safe way to build upper body strength in your arms, chest, and shoulders. Don’t be intimidated–you don’t have to be a Marine to do this exercise. Start by doing wall pushups. Gradually, move to using a chair or a bench. When you make it to the floor, start on your knees. Eventually, you will build up the strength to be able to do a fully-fledged pushup. Be patient, and don’t get discouraged. Try to do at least as many as you can do in one minute, and don’t be afraid to modify it to the easier position if you are failing. Eventually, strive for 3 sets. Most importantly, make sure that you are using proper form keeping your back straight and your tummy tucked in. Use a full range of motion, and take your time.
- Strength training: lower body. Lunges are among the most beneficial and useful exercises you can do. They can help you to train to walk stairs better, pick up your groceries (remember to lift with your legs), and even get back up if you kneel at your worship services. Don’t be afraid to start by using a chair to take some of the weight off of you. Make it your goal to improve the amount of repetitions. Try to do as many as you can do in one minute.
- Core training. People often don’t do situps or crunches–and that’s okay. These exercises, when performed incorrectly by amateurs, can actually cause problems with back muscles among other issues. A different workout that works to strengthen your entire core is to do a plank. Just as with pushups, you can start by doing a plank using a chair. Stand back from the back of the chair about 12 inches. Lean forward holding the back of the chair, and keep your back straight.Eventually, you will graduate to the floor. Lie face down on the floor, and raise your upper body up on your elbows keeping your forearms and your hands on the floor as well. Start by holding the position on your knees for one minute. Gradually over time, try a set with your knees further back keeping your belly tight. Eventually, your goal is to hold your plank with your body straight on your toes while resting your upper body on your forearms.
- Stretching. To create long and lean muscles, you want to be sure to stretch. Stretch your legs by standing in front of a wall or chair. Pick up your foot behind you, and grab it with your hand. Gently pull upward, and hold the stretch for about 15 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Stretch your arms and your core by reaching up toward the sky. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Hopefully, these simple exercises inspire you to at least get up and try them. Be sure to also eat well–breakfast, lunch and dinner–and supplement with a multivitamin, an Omega 3, and an antioxidant. Be sure to check with your doctor before doing any exercise or diet program. Also, be sure to train with a professional to ensure proper form and reduce the risk of injury.