Written By: Jessica Kluz
Health could arguably be one of the most important topics of current conversations. Whether at home with family, between coworkers, and within social circles, personal health and wellbeing is a focus that most can say has been discussed throughout these groups of people. There are many different factors that play a role in your overall health – your mental, physical, and emotional health. Each of those topics can spark an unlimited number of conversations on what is the best way to achieve your peak health in ways that work best for you. It is important to remember that your mind, body, and emotions are all tied together; taking care of one can lead to improvements with another. As mental and emotional health have taken the stage due to the uncertainty of the present, finding small ways to take a break from the heaviness of stress and worry can do wonders for the body! Today the topic of conversation will be focused on physical health, and ways to implement simple movement and exercise for any level of ability.
Movement and exercise have been proven to have many benefits in overall health. Raising your heartrate can improve heart health and increases blood flow throughout your body. Stretching and targeting muscle groups can improve flexibility and mobility of the body. Not only does exercise improve your physical health, but moving your body releases endorphins that have a positive impact on your mental and emotional health. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and help you relax. Whether you are familiar with exercising and do it regularly or are uncomfortable with it and do not know where to begin, there are plenty of ways to get movement in throughout your day – movement and exercise can be made simple!
Simple Exercises to Increase Body Movement
Each exercise can be completed for any amount of time, and as many or few times as you would like! No equipment is needed, just a small amount of space to make sure you can move properly and safely.
1. Arm Circles
Rotate arms in clockwise or counterclockwise directions while holding arms parallel to the floor.
To make easier: Stay seated while rotating arms.
To make harder: Hold something lightly weighted in each hand while rotating arms.
2. Walking march or running in place
Alternate by bringing knees to a 90 degree angle, with your thigh being parallel to the floor.
To make easier: alternate slowly between each leg, placing both feet on the floor before switching knees.
To make harder: alternate quickly between each leg, so that you are running in place rather than marching.
3. Reach up to toe touch
Reach both arms to above your head with arms straight, pause, then bend at the hips to reach arms down and touch as low as you can comfortably touch (i.e toes, shins, knees).
To make easier: go at a slow speed, bend arms at the elbows, if need be, and reach for your knees or shins. If range of motion is difficult, try while seated.
To make harder: increase speed without a pause between reaching up and down, include a small jump while reaching up above your head.
4. Side bends
Place one arm in the air, as straight as is comfortable. Bend at the waist in the opposite direction. Alternate between each side, switching arms when switching which side you are bending on.
To make easier: try while seated. Place arms at your sides, and reach fingertips down your side to reach towards your knees, as far as is comfortable. Stand straight and repeat on the other side.
To make harder: hold weight in each hand, increase speed between each bend while maintaining stability and control. Deepen into a further stretch.
5. Bodyweight squat
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-length apart. Bend at the knees and lower into a seated position, stopping when knees reach 90 degrees and thighs are parallel to the floor. With your weight on your heels, push up back into a standing position.
To make easier: hold onto a chair, wall, or rail to maintain balance. Do not squat as far into a seated position.
To make harder: hold weight in hands, increase speed of repetitions, or incorporate a jump while pushing back into a standing position.
Tips to Increase Movement During Routine Daily Tasks
When it comes to incorporating exercise into our daily lives, time is not always on our side. We get busy, we get tired, and we may get distracted and forget – even if we had the intention of including it. An easy way to increase activity in our day to day lives is by adding little bits of exercise to things we already do every day.
- While talking the phone, stand up and walk. Even if it is just around the room you are in, around your office or conference room, or pacing back and forth. Standing up and getting some blood flowing can easily be done while still being productive.
- Park a little further in the parking lot. When you leave the house to go somewhere, parking further than you normally would allows you to get more steps in than you would have if you parked front row. It only adds a minute or two to your errands!
- Swap out the focus of a social event. Rather than meeting a friend or family for dinner and socializing at the table, invite them for a walk and socialize while being active! Having a buddy to be active with makes exercise more fun, and can make time go by quicker!
- Take the stairs (if able to!). When given the opportunity to take an elevator or escalator, if your mobility allows it, take the stairs instead and get your heartrate up. Take your time and go at a speed that works for you.
- You do not always need to “make only one trip.” Whether carrying in groceries, straightening up around the house, or putting laundry away – take your time! Make a few trips, lengthening the time you are active.