5 Simple Exercises to Get You Moving Again
This is a guest post contributed by JBodine for Play Like Champion.
Are you moving enough these days? We ask because the current health situation is making Americans even more sedentary — exercising less and spending more time sitting and looking at their screens. Even those who were getting enough exercise before this crisis have reported an average 32% reduction in physical activity, which can impact one’s health fairly quickly. In fact, vital health markers such as oxygen uptake and muscle strength will already take a hit after just a few weeks of inactivity.
Needless to say, it’s imperative to get moving no matter the situation. It’s difficult, but writer James Gonzales offers a simple suggestion: Set aside time during the week for physical activity. It can be an early morning yoga session, an after-lunch stroll around the house, or an exercise routine late afternoon. Once you find that time, we suggest you start by performing the simple exercises below to help your body re-acclimatize to physical activity.
1. Running in place
Fitness enthusiast Emily Cronkleton considers running in place as perfect for those who can't run outdoors and have no treadmill at home. It's straightforward, too, as all you have to do is, well, run in place. Its benefits approximate those of a usual outdoor run, including enhanced muscle strength, improved stability and posture, increased lung capacity, and better circulation. Just make sure you maintain proper form — chest out, back straight, and looking straight ahead — all throughout.
2. Bodyweight squats
Physical therapist Andy Sobuta calls squats a great exercise, as "they activate so many bones and joints at once." In addition, squats build and maintain lower body strength, which helps make movement a lot easier. They also improve functional fitness, since they mimic many of the day-to-day activities you perform, like sitting, standing, and lifting a heavy load. And, just like running in place, you don't need to go out of the house or get fancy equipment to do squats.
One of the activities we suggested in our 'Move! Keeping Athletes Active in a World without Sports' is dancing, as it's a fun way to get anyone moving. The benefits are aplenty, too, as dancing can get your heart rate up and your blood flowing. It also improves balance, strength, and endurance, and even enhances cognitive abilities such as adaptability and concentration. So, play an upbeat song, turn the volume up, and dance like no one's watching.
4. Jumping jacks
Jumping jacks are another exercise we highly recommend, as they can be done right at home, without the need to go out or prepare any equipment. That said, doing jumping jacks can help you athletically, as they're a kind of plyometric exercise — meaning, they can help you run faster and jump higher. Jumping jacks also offer cardio benefits, like improved heart rate, weight maintenance, and reduced blood pressure.
5. Cobra stretch
Believe it or not, stretching is also a form of exercise. If you're one of the many Americans who've spent the past few months looking at your screens for hours, you're likely at risk of back pain and poor posture — which you can counter by stretching as often as possible. In particular, make sure you do the cobra stretch a few times, where you lie prone, and push your body up slowly such that it resembles a cobra about to strike. This keeps your back from getting tight, and improves both your flexibility and posture.
As you start exercising again, remember that you can't go from zero to full blast right away, as that's a recipe for injury. Instead, Dr. Monica Rho recommends starting slowly and cautiously — no more than 50% of what you've been doing previously. Then, after a few days, you can start ramping things up and look to do more vigorous exercises.