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Why not start moving now? Add 30 seconds a day!
Many of us have exercising as one of our New Year's resolutions. This year we are offering you the chance to get started early to help you successfully change your movement habits.
Here are 14 simple exercises you can do at home. Perform the exercises for about 30 seconds. Start with one, and each day add a new exercise. Soon you will have 14 exercises to string together into an approximately seven-minute routine.
These are easy to fit into your day and a great way to get up and get moving.
Stepping helps build strength in the legs. While there are step benches like the one we are using that are designed for exercise stepping, you can also use a staircase step in your house, or if you don’t have a step, you can march in place. Think about landing softly, not stomping your foot down. Tapping your foot on the top of the step allows you to alternate which foot is leading.
We are going to demonstrate using an elevated bench, but in your home you can use a countertop, or a secure table or couch. Place your hands on your sturdy surface about shoulder-width apart. Step your feet back, the further you step back, the more challenge you will have. Your goal will be to keep your body straight, like a board, as you move. Bend your elbows, lowering your straight body closer to the counter top, stopping when your elbows are next to your ribs. Your elbows will point down toward your hips as you lower yourself, to be gentler to the shoulder. Straighten your arms back to straight but not locked elbow.
Strong outer hip muscles are really important to our knee health, but these muscles are usually underutilized. Moving sideways is a nice way to start working those muscles. Bend your knees and hips as if you were going to sit back on a really tall stool. Avoid tucking your tailbone under you. Keep your feet pointing straight forward as you step 10 steps to the right and 10 to the left.
Your biceps are the front of your upper arm. If you don’t have hand weights, use soup cans or jugs with water in it. Start with your hands down by your outer thigh, palms facing forward. Lift one hand up toward your shoulder, keeping your point of your elbow pointing down toward the floor. Slowly lower your hands, being careful not to over straighten or lock your elbow joint. Alternate arms.
Alternate Weight Shift/Lunge
Like the third exercise, this exercise helps you strengthen your legs and hips. It also has the benefit of working on balance. Start in your normal standing position. Step forward with your right foot, picking a stride width that is comfortable for you. The longer the stride, the more the challenge. Let your front knee bend, but don’t let it bend so far that it goes past your toes. Your back heel can come off the floor. Push off the right foot and use the strength of your hips and thighs to bring your right foot back behind you. Step forward and backward for 15 seconds and then switch to the left leg.
This exercise will help you with shoulder blade stability and core strength. Start as you did with countertop pushups. This time, stay in your start position, walking your feet back a little, knees straight but not locked. Elbows are slightly bent. Lift one knee toward the chest, with the goal of keeping your hips and pelvis still, not rocking side to side or tucking your tailbone under. Set the foot down and repeat to the other side, alternating right/left.
Use soup cans or other household items as hand weights. With bent over rows we are focusing on the muscles of the upper back. Stand with one foot in front of the other, knees bent. Bow forward from your hip creases, but keep you back straight ( no slouching!). Start with straight arms, the hand weights are at the outside of your knees. Lift the weights, bending your elbow and bringing the elbows up to the ribs. Lower the dumbbells, controlling the speed.
You can use a household item such as a hammer, a jug with water or a basketball or soccer ball, or hold onto the ends of a dumbbell. Stand with feet spread a little wider than your hips. As you move your hand weight side to side, twist from the waist and hips. As you twist to the left you your right heel should come off the floor a little. As you twist back to the right your left heel will come off the floor. This helps prevent twisting the knee.
This exercise will be done walking forward and backwards. As you walk, imagine you have a low hurdle that you need to lift your leg over. You may swing your knee out to the side a little. The goal is to keep your torso upright, not leaning side to side.
Floor Plank to Puppy Pose
This exercise will work your trunk/abdominal muscles and your shoulders and shoulder blades. Start by kneeling on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders. Move your hands forward about one hand length, so the heel of your palm is where your fingertips were. Rock your hips and shoulders forward until your shoulders are balanced over your hands. Rock back until your hips are above your feet. Rock back and forth, avoid letting your hips sag to the floor as you come forward into your plank. If kneeling is not comfortable you can do this exercise on a countertop.
This exercise will work your trunk/abdominal muscles and shoulder blades. Start by kneeling on your hands and knees. Reach your right foot back, bringing your right knee off the floor. If you want more balance challenge reach your left arm forward. Balance and breathe for a two-second count, then return the hand and knee to floor. Repeat with the left leg and right arm. Alternate the diagonal sides. If kneeling is not comfortable you can do this exercise on a countertop.
Lie on your side, knees bent and in front of your hips slightly. Feet and knees are stacked and your pelvis will be perpendicular to the floor. Lift your top knee up, only as high as you can keep the pelvis still. It is easy to rock forward or back on the side of the hip but stay centered. If you come up too high you will rock backwards. Raise and lower your knee about 6 times and then switch sides.
Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Arms are relaxed by your side. It may feel good to put a six-inch, soft ball or a yoga block between your knees and squeeze gently. Press down with your feet and lift your pelvis and lower back off the floor. Pause and hold then lower slowly. Repeat.
This exercise is a rest position that can feel nice for your low back. Start on your hands and knees and rock your hips back to sit down towards your heels. Stretch your arms forward to rest in front of you. Think about taking normal breaths, exploring where in your rib cage you can expand and relax as you breathe. If this position does not feel good for your knees, lay on your back and hold your knees into chest.