Val's View: Easy Exercise Ideas That Really Work
Posted on 07 October 2020
Are you struggling to begin or continue an exercise regimen? If so, you’re not alone! From improving energy to relieving anxiety, there are so many great benefits that working out provides. But it can be difficult to put a fitness routine into action. Although it seems counterintuitive, you must expend energy to get it. This can feel like an uphill battle.
When it comes to exercise, I like to keep things fresh by having several types of workouts in my arsenal. Resistance bands are a very effective tool. I love how I can gauge my strength easily, and I can increase the resistance gradually. The other day I hit tennis balls against a wall. The wall won, but I felt great in the end. Plus, it was 20 minutes well-spent sharpening my hand-eye coordination.
I’ve also tried plyometrics and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), both of which are popular lately. I find some moves to be hard on my knees, so I always modify and listen to my body. As opposed to constantly pushing, I have found that a physical challenge tends to be more sustainable in the long run.
Having the right mindset and approach to exercise is the first key. Self-motivation isn’t that easy for some, and we’ve all gotten ourselves stuck in a rut. Positive reinforcement from yourself and others can keep you from getting discouraged.
Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude and keep in mind a little movement is better than none. Studies show even modest amounts of exercise can have a profound effect on your physical and emotional health. With exercise, you will boost self-esteem and endorphins. Whoohoo! You will also gain flexibility, balance, and strength (to fight open that pickle jar!). And, as an added bonus, you will feel calmer and less stressed!
Here are some key points to start off your movement journey:
- Be kind to yourself! Self-compassion increases the likelihood of success in any endeavor. First and foremost, don’t beat yourself up over willpower or body image.
- Check your expectations and don’t expect immediate results. Since getting out of shape takes time, so do the physical payoffs of focus and consistency.
- Avoid excuses like “I hate exercising,” “I’m too busy,” “I’m too out of shape,” “I’m just not athletic,” or “I’m always tired.” Instead, be gentle with yourself and use positive affirmations.
- No pain, no gain is outdated! You can get going with moderate activity, and even short intervals of 5-15 minutes at a time can be beneficial.
- Choose low-impact. There is no need to overdo it, so build momentum slowly, then work up to challenging yourself as you listen to your body.
- Motivate yourself with music, especially while doing chores. Turn it up and dance it off! You burn calories even while vacuuming.
- Try the buddy system. If you’re an early bird, catch the first light of the day and go for a barefoot walk together on the sand. It’s a great way to start your morning, and it’s easy on the joints!
- Get unstuck and off the couch by joining an online fitness community. It keeps you accountable and inspired.
- Get creative and change it up. Try out different forms of movement to see what appeals to you and to prevent monotony. If you are bored by exercise, then it’s very likely that you won’t stick with it.
If you are looking for effective, low-intensity exercises, here are 7 of my favorite simple Pilates moves and stretches to try out:
- Articulated Bridge: Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your hips slowly, starting with your pelvis, lower your middle upper back while squeezing your glutes. Reverse and do 8 reps.
- 100’s: Pump your arms by your side with your head slightly curled up to engage your core. Do 5 reps.
- Leg Circles: Lie on your side with your hips stacked and extend both legs. Lift up a few inches and make small circles while keeping your hips still. Do 20 reps on each side.
- Plank: The sit-ups smarter sibling! Start on your elbows, then lift up your torso and extend legs to a straight position. Hold for 10 seconds. You can maintain your posture by picturing a glass of water on your back.
- Skaters: Standing hip-width apart, shift your weight while swinging your arms to one side and tap your toe behind you—alternate sides for 20 reps.
- Bicycle: Gentle on your back and knees! Put your hands behind your head and slowly raise your knees. Bringing one knee up to your armpit, rotate your torso, and touch your opposite knee—alternate and twist to the other side. Do 15 reps.
- Half Wind Relieving Pose: Lying face up, bring your left knee towards your chest, wrapping hands around your shins. Hug your knee to your chest. Hold for 10 seconds. Release and switch sides.
They say sitting is the new smoking in terms of the negative impacts it has on physical health, and it’s been shown time and again how detrimental a sedentary lifestyle can be. Whichever way you choose to move, your body will reward you!
If you slack off, just start again and make consistent activity a priority. As long as you are careful to prevent injury, you will never regret adding more exercise into your life.
In the comments below, we want to hear about your favorite ways to get in a little exercise!