Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, improve balance and reduce your risk of falls, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.1 For those that don’t exercise regularly, it can be daunting trying to figure out what to do or how to get started on the road to being healthier and more active. In this post, I wanted to provide a few ideas of easy exercises that anyone, regardless of age or fitness level, can start doing every day to be healthier and more fit.
1) Squats: This may sound challenging to some, but it doesn’t need to be! This exercise is meant to help to increase strength in your legs, specifically your gluteal, quad, and hamstring muscle groups. Squats can make it easier to do functional activities like getting out of a chair, getting out of your car, or climbing stairs. Plus, keeping your legs strong as you age can help maintain better balance and stability on your feet. Tip: Keep it pain-free! If squatting too deep seems to bother your knees, try limiting the depth to a pain-free range of motion and just do a partial squat.
2) Scapular retractions: Most of us struggle with keeping a good posture and tend to slouch more than we should. This poor positioning stretches out the muscles in your upper back between your shoulder blades and makes them weak and lazier than they should be. Doing scapular retractions (i.e. pinching your shoulder blades together) can help activate and strengthen these muscles and facilitate a better posture as well as less stress and strain on your neck and arms. You can use a resistance band or dumbbells to perform this type of exercise or just squeeze your shoulder blades together a few times as you think about it throughout the day.
3) Walking: That’s right! Walking is one of the best things you can do for your body. “Federal physical activity guidelines call for 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week for adults” and this can be in the form of walking.2 That number may sound high, but don’t sweat it! Start slow and build your way up. Ultimately, you can walk 30 minutes 5 days per week or do 10-15 minute bouts of walking throughout the week as many times as it takes to reach that goal. Every step counts and they have a cumulative effect. There’s nothing wrong with breaking your walks into shorter segments and spreading them out throughout a day or week. Even if you can’t hit that 150-minute recommendation, doing something is better than nothing.
The bottom line, the exercise doesn’t have to be HARD or strenuous for you to see some benefit. You can keep it relatively easy and still reap some of the health rewards. The key to staying consistent with a regular routine is picking an exercise that you like and actually enjoy doing!
If you want more ideas or need any help or motivation in trying to be more active, please don’t hesitate to call 616.256.8679 or contact any one of HJPT’s clinics and schedule a free consultation with one of our many skilled and knowledgeable therapists. We would be happy to help you on your journey to being a healthier and happier you!