Exercise: Start Small

We all know the importance of regular physical activity. But there are some of us who either hate the thought of doing it, and/or just don’t have the time. The good news is exercise doesn’t have to be inconvenient, painful or time consuming. And you don’t even have to leave your house. Gentle to moderate exercise is just as health boosting as intense exercise.

If you’ve never been very active, start small. Think of ways to add extra activity into your day. Here are some suggestions:

Strengthen your abdominal (stomach area) muscles. Lie on the floor, on your back. Keep one leg bent at the knee, foot flat on the floor. The other leg remains straightened as you raise and lower it slowly. Raise it about a foot off the floor before you lower it back to the floor. Keep the small of your back pressed into the floor. You should feel your abdominal muscles contract. Switch legs, and repeat. Breathe deeply. Do as many repetitions as is comfortable for you, while you watch your favourite television program or read a book.

Don’t have an exercise bike? Not a problem. Lie on the floor, on your back, with both feet positioned directly above your hips. Pedal your legs, as though you are riding an imaginary bicycle. Keep your feet above your hips, to avoid arching and stressing the lower back (you may have to prop a thin cushion under your hips).

For variety, alternate the cycling with the abdominal exercise, or “scissor” your legs to work the inner thigh muscles. As you become fitter, add a challenge by wearing light ankle weights for short periods of time.

Most of us own a handy piece of exercise equipment, and don’t even know it. It’s a rocking chair. Pull it up to the television, or grab your favourite novel and rock to your heart’s content. Of course, the secret to getting a reasonable workout is to rock aggressively and contract (tighten) your thighs and buttocks as you push-off. For variety, put your feet on a foot stool. Contract your abdominal muscles each time you push, and you’ll get a slight workout for that area, too.

For the chronic bookworms, read and roam. Try reading while you stride around your back yard. If you have a lot of obstacle-free space, reading as you briskly walk will make the time fly by, and you’ll burn calories. But stay in your yard. Walking into someone’s garbage can, or stumbling off a curb could be embarrassing and dangerous!

Try some of these tips, no matter what your fitness level. You never know, even the most devoted house plant may decide to take fitness a little farther than the living room.







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