Exercise

Low impact abdominal exercises

A quick list of low impact abdominal exercises.

  1. Lying Bicycle: Sit on the floor, and prop your back at a 45 degree angle with the floor by using your hands. Bend your back so your abs can tighten better. Hold your legs up off the floor, and start bicycling on an imaginary bike. Repeat until exhaustion.
  2. Ab Crunches: Sit down on the floor, and prop yourself up with your hands. Keep your knees bent at 45 degree angles and your feet planted on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and lower your upper body toward the floor while keeping your hands in the air next to your body. Use your abdominal muscles to lower your body, but do not allow your upper back and shoulders to touch the floor. Hold for 1-3 seconds, then bring your body back up until your hands can touch your legs. Do not rest in this position. Once your body is up, begin to lower it again. Repeat until exhaustion.
  3. Lying Leg Raises: Lie down on the floor, and rest your hands palms down next to your hips. Using your abdominal muscles, start to raise up both your legs off the floor. Keep the feet together, heel to heel. Raise them up until they make a 60 degree angle with the floor, or just before the point where you can hold them in the air without straining your abdominal muscles. Hold them there for 1-3 seconds, then lower them back down, but don’t let them hit the floor. Let them touch the floor ever so slightly, and lift them back up once again. Repeat until exhaustion.
  4. Twisting Ab Crunches: These are fun to do and they work your obliques, which are the muscles underneath your “love handles”. Use the same movement as for the Ab Crunches (described above), but with the following changes: (1) Instead of keeping your hands in the air, cross them on your chest, and (2) Instead of raising your trunk up in a straight curve, twist your trunk in alternate movements so one of your elbows is in line with the opposite knee. In other words, as you come up, twist your body to the left so your right elbow (your arms are cross, remember?) can almost touch your left knee. Lower your body and straighten it at the same time, then come back up and twist it to the right so your left elbow can almost touch your right knee. Repeat until exhaustion.
  5. Twisting Lying Bicycle: If you’re ready for a high intensity ab exercise, this is it. Combine the movements of the Twisting Ab Crunches and Lying Bicycle crunches into one. As you bicycle your legs, lift your trunk up and twist it so opposite elbows and knees touch. You can either cross your arms on your chest, or cross your fingers behind your head (but make sure you don’t pull on your neck!), and do this until exhaustion. When you’re done with this, you’ll be done with abs for the day, because you’ll be too tired to do any other exercises.
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Exercise

Low impact calf exercises

  1. Lying Calf Pumps: Sit on the floor, and stretch your legs, but keep them parallel. Tighten your right leg’s calf muscle and push your toes forward as if you are pushing a heavy weight away from your feet. Push your toes until your calf muscle contracts tightly and hold for 3-5 seconds. Then, while keeping it contracted, bring your toes toward your body. Repeat this motion without relaxing the calf muscle for 10-30 times. Repeat for other leg.
  2. Standing Calf Raises: Stand up straight, and raise yourself up on your toes as high as you can. Hold for 3-5 seconds and then go back down slowly. Without pausing to rest your heels on the floor, go back up again. Repeat this motion for 10-30 times or more as desired.
  3. Donkey Calf Raises: Standing up, bend down at the waist until your palms touch the floor. Keep a wide distance between your hands and your legs so you can keep your back straight. Also keep your legs straight, but not completely extended, as this may cause knee problems. If you’re in doubt, just keep your knees slightly bent. You should keep the pose of a cat perched up on all fours. Now, using your hands to support your body weight, push your hips up with your calves, as high up as you can go. Hold for 3-5 seconds, and repeat for 10-30 times or more as desired.
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Exercise

Low impact leg exercises

  1. Quad Sets: Sit down on a straight surface, and tighten quadriceps muscles as tightly as possible. Push the back of your knee towards the floor/surface that you’re sitting on. Hold for 5 seconds, relax for 3 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.
  2. Straight Leg Raises: Lying on back or in a sitting position, tighten quadriceps and lift leg 12-20 inches off the floor, making sure the leg is kept straight. Bend other leg to remove strain from low back. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower leg slowly. Relax for 2 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.
  3. Wall Slides: Leaning on wall, slowly lower buttocks toward floor until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Tighten quadriceps muscle as you return to starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.
  4. Side-Lying Hip Abduction: Lying on side, tighten muscle on front of thigh, and then lift your leg 12-20 inches. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower leg. Repeat 10-15 times.
  5. Side-Lying Hip Adduction: Lying on side, cross your legs, upper over lower and then tighten muscle on front of thigh, then lift lower leg 8-10 inches.
  6. Simple Squats: Stand up straight, and use a squatting motion to bend your legs until they are parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight and keep looking up. Do not bend you knees over your toes. Rather, keep your buttocks as far back as you can, and do not lean forward. Stretch your hands when your legs are parallel to the floor to keep your balance. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 10-30 times.
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Exercise

Leg stretching exercises

Let’s begin. I want you to remember to hold each position for 15-30 seconds. The stretch should hurt a bit, but not in your joints. It should hurt in your stretched muscles. These stretches are also good for balance and coordination, as you will see once you start doing them.

  1. Hamstring stretch: Tuck the foot of one leg in near your groin. Keep the other leg straight. Reach down the shin of the straight leg until a stretch is felt in the back of the thigh. Hold for a count of 15-30 seconds, relax, then stretch again. Repeat for other leg.
  2. Quadriceps stretch: You can do this standing up or you can use your hand to grab on to a wall or other object so you can keep your balance. Bend your left leg and use your right hand to reach behind you and grab the ankle of your left leg. Pull up and behind you until you feel the entire quadriceps muscle stretching. Reach up with your left hand, and stretch your entire body toward the ceiling while you pull up and behind you on your left ankle. You should feel a good stretch not only in your left quadriceps, but also throughout your trunk and uplifted hand. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat for other leg.
  3. Groin stretch: Sit down on the floor, and bring the soles of your feet together so your legs form a rhombus shape. Cross your fingers underneath your feet, and while leeping your back straight and head up, pull on your feet to bring them as close to your crotch as you can. You need to feel a stretch inside your leg. Trying to bring your knees closer to the floor also helps. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat.
  4. Hip stretch: Cross your fingers underneath your right knee, and pull it up toward your chest, as high as you can. You need to feel a stretch on the underside of your leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds, and then bring your leg back down. Repeat for other leg.
  5. Cross-legged stretch: I haven’t really seen this described anywhere, so I guess it’s something that I’ve come up with. Standing up straight, bring your right ankle up to your left hip, while the sole of your foot points upward. Pull up as high as it can go, and point your knee toward the floor, until the line formed by your leg is perpendicular to the floor. As you can keep your balance better, you can also try to twist your upper body toward you left hip. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat for other leg.

That’s it! Shake your legs to relax the muscles, and you’re done.

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Exercise

Neck stretching exercises

These stretches are great during or after a day’s work on a chair. Your neck and shoulders get very tense, and they need to be relaxed. Do these stretches slowly, while breathing deeply. For each exercise, you should feel your neck muscles stretching, and you’re going to hear slight cracking noises as your vertebrae move with your muscles. If you hear clear cracking sounds, please do not continue the exercises, and go see a chiropractor!

I do have to warn you not to strain yourself when working with your neck. It’s a very delicate part of your body, and if you work it improperly, you could injure it permanently and run into chronic pain later on in your life. So be careful!

  1. Bend your head down and up, looking down at your chest, then up to the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times. Don’t force the bend, just concentrate on feeling a stretch in your muscles.
  2. Bend your head side to side as though you are going to touch your ears to your shoulder, all the while keeping your shoulders down. In other words, don’t shrug your shoulders, keep them down and back, with your chest out. Repeat 10-15 times for each side. Don’t force the bend, just concentrate on feeling a stretch in your mucles.
  3. Rotate your head from side to side in a circular motion.
  4. Cross your fingers behind your head, and extend your elbows toward an imaginary (or real) wall behind you. Hold for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply. Let your rib cage expand as you breathe deeply. Pull your elbows as far back as you can, and feel the stretch in your arms and chest.
  5. This exercise helps me relieve the stress at the base of my skull. Butt your head out above your chest while tensing up your neck muscles and keeping your chin high and out. If done correctly, you’ll feel tension all along the spinal cord in your neck, as the muscles press all of the vertebrae into their correct positions. You will also hear slight cracking noises. Move your head from side to side slightly (not too much!). Relax your neck muscles and bring your head back up into correct posture. Don’t do this last exercise too often, and don’t tense your neck muscles too much. You could hurt yourself with this exercise if you don’t do it right.
  6. Give yourself a quick neck massage by working the muscles along each side of your spinal column with the tips of your fingers. Do it slowly and delicately. You can also try to press along the base of your skull with your thumb. This may help people with migraines.

Now that you’re done, you hopefully feel much better and are ready to face the rest of your day!

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Exercise

How to keep your exercise goals

So you’ve had it with yourself. You’ve decided it’s high time you started to exercise. You’ve heard about all the benefits: increased energy and stamina, better health, more strength, and of course, a better looking body. But you don’t know where to begin, and simply deciding that you’re going to drop 20 pounds or add 20 pounds (whichever your case may be) probably won’t work for most people. You need a plan, and you need to break down that plan into achievable steps or goals.

This article makes it easy for you to identify and prioritize your exercise goals and establish an easy to follow exercise program. Just follow along and jot down your own notes or answers to each of the points mentioned.

  • Make sure your goals are in line with your priorities. For example, if your first priority is your family (you want to spend time with your wife or husband, or you have children,) don’t go all out with your exercise and steal away all of the quality family time. Your exercise will separate you from them, create tensions within your family, and in the end, you’ll probably associate exercise with that bad experience and you’ll be less likely to begin a new program. Instead, talk with your spouse about your plans and work out a schedule that works for both of you. Begin with exercise sessions 3 times a week for 20-40 minutes each. As you start experiencing the benefits of exercise, share your enthusiasm with your spouse. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that they will join in your exercise program.
  • Set realistic, achievable goals and time frames. This is a biggie! Many people get discouraged and stop exercising because they don’t achieve the goals they set for themselves. Of course you’re not going to achieve your goals if they are too high and lofty. Having fallen prey to this mistake myself, I can tell you right now that you will not drop/add 20-30 pounds in a month, or in some cases, even in 2 months. It just will not happen, unless you’re incredibly lucky or you do some incredibly thoughtless thing like going on a crash diet. What will most likely happen is that you will be able to drop or add 10 pounds in a month of serious exercise. These are what’s called “beginner’s bonus”. After that, your gains or losses will come harder for the following reasons:
    • If you’re trying to lose weight, you are, but you’re also replacing that weight with muscle, so as your muscles grow, you’re adding weight and replacing the fat weight that you’re losing. So if you are lifting heavy weights and hoping that your own weight will drop as a result, you’re in for a surprise. If you’re lifting light weights, focusing on lots of repetitions and lots of cardio exercises (which increase your heart rate), your weight will probably continue to drop fairly steadily, although the leaner you get, the harder you will have to work for those last few pounds. So, unless you’re very fat, your “beginner’s bonus” will wear out quickly and you’ll need to work harder in order to continue losing weight.
    • If you’re trying to add weight because you’re thin, your body will like staying thin and won’t like adding weight. So after the initial shock of exercise and an initial amount of weight gain, your body will try to stay at the new weight or even go down to its previous weight. What’s worse, if you gorge on food hoping the sheer amount of calories will force your body to add more weight, you’ll be adding lots of fat, not muscle, and then you’ll be both scrawny and flabby (bet that’s a pretty picture…).
    • Basically, the fight will be with yourself. After the beginner’s bonus wears out, you’ll really need to get determined and stick close to your exercise schedule, because sooner or later you will reach something called a “plateau”, which is dead point in your progress. The only way to get out of a plateau is to set small, achievable goals and document everything, so you can follow your progress on a daily basis. Then it’ll be a game of comparison: you’ll compare the numbers with the dates, and before long, you’ll see yourself progressing again.
  • Visualize the results. Every time you look in a mirror, imagine yourself at your goal image, and keep that image in mind as you exercise. The power of getting results depends on the determination that you use in picturing your end result. Even when the image gets stale or seems too far away, you have to hold on to it and truly believe you can get there, or else the game is lost. Once you get in a regular exercise schedule, it’s all a mind game. You have to actively decide to go to the gym, to stay in there till you’re done with what you planned to do, to eat right, sleep right and stay focused. Otherwise, you’ll get lost on the wayside and never reach your destination. Focusing on your goal image helps keep you on track and gives your the extra power that you need to finish your workouts.
  • Take positive steps toward your destination everyday, even if it’s just a few moments for reflection. While it’s harder for you to control your thoughts or feelings (you will have many doubts), it’s much easier to control your actions. If you want to drop those pounds, make sure that every bit of food you eat is healthy, and every exercise that you do at the gym is done toward losing that weight. If you want to add weight, make sure you eat all of the food that you planned, that you work out until the point of total exhaustion at every workout, and that you get more than adequate amounts of sleep. And take a few moments a few times each day to think about the progress you’ve made and enjoy the goals you’ve already achieved. You’ll be re-enforcing your drive when you do that, and you’ll motivate yourself to go even further than you planned. Every little bit that you do counts, no matter what your goal is.
  • Reward yourself. When you give yourself a reward for your achievement, you unconsciously give yourself support for your actions. Give yourself a worthy gift for a worthy success, but don’t spoil yourself. In other words, if you’ve just dropped 20 pounds, don’t celebrate with a triple fudge Sundae and an all-course brunch. You’ll be ruining everything you worked for. Instead, re-inforce the positive habits you’ve created by doing something healthful, like getting a full body massage or treating yourself to some exotic fruit smoothies. Chances are you won’t need to worry about rewarding yourself; if your body looks better, your spouse will probably find plenty of ways to reward you…
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