Fitness

7 Simple Exercises Anyone Can Do Anywhere

Regular exercise is important, and not just for getting to and/or maintaining a healthy weight. Daily activity also helps to alleviate joint pain and stiffness, improve flexibility and balance, keep body systems such as digestion working smoothly, and reduces stress. It can even make you happier and more productive.

But you don’t have to be a gym rat to gain these benefits. Any activity is better than none, and virtually anyone, at any age, and any fitness level can perform these few simple exercises. Start slow, work at your own pace, and enjoy the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of simple exercise…

 

1. Walking

The physical and mental benefits of walking are both well documented. But what makes walking a truly great exercise is that it is completely adaptable to any fitness level. Burning calories requires walking at a brisk pace over an adequate distance, but even a short walk at a slow pace can produce physical and mental benefits.

You can also start small and work your way up to longer distances as your fitness level increases. You don’t even have to go outside! Walk around the room or up and down the hallway a few times. Do this a few times a day for 5- or 10-minutes each time. If you want to and are able, build up from there.

walk

2. Dancing

Much like walking, dancing has both physical and mental benefits. How can you not feel happy moving along to your favourite songs? Also like walking, dancing can be adapted to suit the fitness level and physical capabilities of the dancer. Again, the harder and longer you dance, the more calories you’ll burn, but a short burst of dancing at low intensity will relieve stiffness and stress.

Again, you don’t even have to leave the house. Turn on the radio while you’re making dinner and add a little pep to the preparation. Or get up 10-minutes earlier and start your morning with a dance session. Just move your feet, shake your hips, and swing your arms to loosen up joints. If you can, add in a bit of jumping or twirling to burn more calories.

zumba

3. Stretching

Exercise isn’t just about cardio. Yes, getting your heart pumping is important for your cardiovascular health, and you’ll certainly have to work up a sweat if you want to lose weight or make up for that fattening indulgence. But even slower, more stationary activities like stretching can help keep joints and muscles working and strong, as well as provide mental benefits.

Stretching first thing in the morning helps eliminate muscle and joint stiffness from sleep and stimulates circulation, which slows during sleep. Similarly, stretching before bed helps relax both body and mind to promote better sleep. And stretching for a few minutes every hour or two throughout the day will keep muscles from cramping. Whether it’s a few simple stretches or an entire yoga routine, stretching reduces both physical and mental stress. It will improve flexibility and balance, as well as sharpen concentration and boost your mood. And it’s easy to do anytime, anywhere, and at any fitness level.

side stretch

4. Jumping

An easy way to get your heart going is to jump up and down. This might sound like a high-intensity exercise—and under normal circumstances, it is—but with a few adjustments, jumping can be a simple, effective, low-impact and low-intensity exercise. Believe it or not, whatever your fitness level, you can make the jump to better health.

If you can, try starting with 5 or 10 jumping jacks, or a few jumps straight up and down, and build up from there. If you need a lower impact exercise, buy a mini trampoline and do a few rebounds on that. For low impact and low intensity, simply bounce up and down on your toes. To up the intensity, try twisting side to side as you jump, or pulling your knees to your chest.

Jumping Jacks

5. Sitting Down and Standing Up

Most of us sit down and stand up at least a few times a day. Getting more exercise can be as simple as doing it more often. Squatting to a sitting position and standing back up again works a number of muscle groups and also requires balance. And anyone who’s ever stood up quickly and felt the room spin knows that it can get the blood pumping.

Any time you move to a sitting position, sit down and stand up a few times before settling into the chair or couch, or even onto the toilet. Then, when you stand up again, stand up and sit down a few times before getting up for good. If you can, increase intensity by moving quickly between standing and sitting, or by holding the squatting position just above the seat.

Squatting

6. Leg Raises

Another simple exercise that just about anyone can do is the leg raise. Leg raises can be done sitting or standing, and you can raise your leg a little or a lot, depending on your fitness level. They can also be done anytime, anywhere—sitting at your desk or on the couch watching TV, standing in line at the bank or the grocery store, or even lying in bed in the morning or at night.

Leg raises can be done a variety of ways to work different muscle groups. You can lift your leg in front of you to stretch calf and hamstring muscles, behind you to stretch quads and glutes, or out to the side to work inner and outer thighs. Standing leg raises have the added advantage of testing balance. Increase the intensity of this exercise by pulsing the raised leg.

leg lifts

7. Arm Raises/Circles

Like leg raises, arm raises can be done by virtually anyone, anywhere—sitting, standing, or lying down. For a little greater intensity, you can add small hand weights or even something as simple as a can of soup or a bottle of detergent. As with leg raises, you can also pulse the arm in the raised position to make the muscles work a little harder.

A variation of the arm raise is the arm circle. Holding your arms out to the side at shoulder height, rotate your shoulders forward and then backward. If you can, do both smaller, tighter circles, and larger, wider circles, and vary the pace of rotation. For an easier variation, simply roll your shoulders forward and backward.

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