These days, we’re more focused than usual on stretching our dollar and our time. Maximize! So when it comes to getting FIT, here are the 7 exercises that don’t cost much and cover lots of bases. They cover the main goals of fitness- cardiovascular, strength building and flexibility. 17000 personal trainers were surveyed by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to compile these 7 key exercises.
First, I’d like to say, there’s nothing NEW here, consider it just a friendly reminder that you needn’t spend tons of cash or jump on the latest product or trend (although that can be pretty FUN). The list is:
Yah, no big surprise. So the question is, why aren’t we doing these exercises. Why do we keep searching for something ELSE, like the Holy Grail of exercise- there must be some MAGIC exercise we haven’t discovered yet that will make me fit, overnight, effortlessly…I’m sorry to say, this is the list. So get on with it now!
Let’s break it down a little:
WALKING: Why it’s so great? FREE and NO technical skills required. Grab a four-legged furry friend and they’ll show you how amazing walking is. Take note of things you’ve never seen. Take a moment to fill your lungs (hopefully you are in a low smog environment when you do that last part). put one foot in front of the other, again and again and again and again.Voila. 30 minutes just went by! Way to go. Got an iPod or other portable music device? Plug in a good beat- information abounds that a high energy piece of music boosts calories burnt. Cautions. Watch for traffic as you’re rocking out to your tunes, wear something with extra traction if you’re on the (still icy) trails right now and vary the terrain- it prevents injury and challenges your joint receptors! Oh yah. Want a firmer tush, walk tall and tighten your glutes (butt muscles) a little, especially as you go up hill. Walk fast enough or you’ll have to walk longer to get a calorie burn worth mentioning.
RUNNING: Regarding the calorie burn factor, this is the BIG DADDY! 1 km of running is about 60 calories. Cautions: there’s lots….while we were “designed” to run, it’s a natural movement and all, no everyone is IDEALLY built for running. Pick softer terrain. Start slowly. Build gradually. Get assessed by a physiotherapist, body worker or chiropractor if you’ve had lower body sprains in your life time- these joints are vulnerable to the loads imposed by running (running is 4 to 5 times more load on your joints than walking).
YOGA: Hmmm. How to sum up yoga adequately. It’s absolutely amazing, life changing, complex, multifaceted. There are books in abundance on the benefits and intricacies of yoga. Too much for me to mention in this blog posting. As a physio, what I can advise is start slow, ask lots of question. Take a class, or even better a private session so that exercises can be modified or tailored just for you. Consider doing restorative yoga first, if you’ve been injured or are feeling timid about the whole thing- “Pillow Yoga” as I call it is absolutely wonderful. You will be likely be in such a good mood people will be suspicious what you were up to during that hour….Don’t compare yourself to the others in the class- they may have been practicing for years. P.S. Take advantage of the wonderful mental aspect of yoga, ie. the meditation. From what I understand, the postures were designed so that the yogis could sit in meditation for hours…
SQUATS: Great for all the lower body muscles. Lots of variations available. Good bang for your exercise minutes! Need coaching on alignment, talk to a personal trainer, physiotherapist or other physical rehabilitation specialist!
LUNGES: Another great lower body strength-builder. Offer s bit of a balance component that is absent in the squat. Add a milk jug full of water ( a liter of water is roughly two pounds) in each hand, you’ll add resistance and the sloshing of the water challenges the joint receptors- again, this is good rehab for lower body sprains & strains by improving your proprioception (balance & coordination).
PUSHUPS: Gets muscles of the chest, shoulders and arms working while also forcing you to engage your abdominal muscles- when done well. Have someone watch you from the side view- you shouldn’t resemble and canoe shape or have your butt sticking up higher than your shoulder blades. Don’t feel bad about resorting to pushups from your knees. It’s better than giving yourself shoulder tendonitis of a sore lower back!
CRUNCHES: A blog is not a good venue for teaching “all about crunches” except to say that flattening your back into the floor is no longer the blanket instruction for crunches- maintaining a neutral spine is! As your personal trainer or physiotherapist what that means!
Hope you have fun implementing these into your fitness routine. Since this is a blog, and of course, just my humble & sometimes quirky opinion on things, I welcome your thoughts & comments. Never take ANYTHING you read on the internet or anywhere as the complete gospel truth. I hope, if anything, this has been slightly amusing, if nothing else!
Sue Shalanski BScPT
Sue was an avid exerciser starting the day she could beat most of the boys in the school at running. OK, she kept enjoying an active life, even when she could no longer beat the boys. Now, most of the girls are faster than her too because she spends too much time writing about getting FIT…sigh. I digress.