Spring Into Action With 7 Total Body Strengthening Exercises
Spring is here! Your busy schedule may make it hard to get to the gym on a regular basis, but don’t let that stop you from moving. There are plenty of ways to strengthen your body and spring into action–even if you have been hibernating all winter or have time constraints.
Here are seven strengthening moves that will jump start your metabolism and increase your flexibility. You can do many of them in your home or even in your work space when you get a few spare moments.
- Stretch to the sky. Consistent stretching significantly decreases muscle soreness while improving muscle flexibility. Your hamstrings will remain shortened all day as you’re seated, so begin with toe-reach stretches that target the area. Sit on the floor with your left leg straight in front of you, slightly bent knee. Keep your right leg bent out to the side and resting on the floor. Reach for your toes without bouncing and hold for 30 seconds; then relax. Do three stretches then switch legs and repeat.
- Take a power walk to beat a midday slump. Call it the 20-20 rule: as little as 20 minutes of lowintensity aerobic activity, such as walking, can give you a 20 percent surge in energy. Not only will you stimulate your brain to release dopamine and serotonin but also cause improvement in energy. That quick recharge will burn about 75 to 100 calories.
- Single-Leg Deadlift. This exercise lifts and tones your glutes and activates your entire core (which helps prevent back pain). Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand on your left foot. Lift your right foot behind you and bend your knees so your right lower leg is parallel to the floor. Bend forward at your hips and slowly lower your body as far as you can. Pause then push your body back to the starting position. As you come up, think about using your glutes to push your hips forward instead of lifting from your back. Keep your core engaged and your chest up during the entire movement.
- Push your pace, rev your metabolism. Highintensity exercise increases the release of growth hormones which mobilize fat to be used as fuel. Plus it causes your metabolism to stay elevated about 10 to 15 percent above its baseline, so you’re burning more fat for several hours post-workout. A brisk walk or jog, race walking, pedaling fast or swimming at top speed for one minute and slowing down enough to recover, can whittle inches off of your waistline.
- Hit the metal. Doing a quick sculpting routine prior to delving into your cardio could increase the amount of fat you melt. Twenty minutes of lifting weights can tap more fat off of those troublesome stores than cardio alone. Arteries stiffen during resistance training, which is great for your heart and total cardiovascular system.
- Get Low. Lunges and high knees are great ways to work out your lower body. Mix up your workout with a variety of squats, including jumping at the end of the movement or holding your squat at its lowest point. You can also try squatting on one leg, keeping the other straight throughout the movement so that it extends straight out in front of you at the bottom of the squat.
- Core Focus. Exercises that focus on your abs are some of the easiest to complete at home and many require no equipment. Instead of a simple sit-up, extend your arms straight overhead and do half a sit-up; or try lying on your back and raising your heels about six inches off the ground–these flutter kicks will strengthen your core as well as help protect and tone your lower back muscles.
Note: Always remember to consult your qualified health care professional before embarking on any exercise routine.