Search This Blog

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Weight-Bearing Exercise Without a Gym

You don't need a gym to strengthen bones and muscles. Here are some simple resistance exercises you can do at home or at the park because they don’t require weights or equipment. Together, they will target all major areas of your body: arms, legs, chest, abdomen and back.

For individuals who have regular access to resistance machines and weight training equipment, these exercises can substitute for your regular workout whenever you are away from the gym.

Note: Always get your doctor's permission before beginning a new exercise program or intensifying an existing one.

Push-Ups

Lay face down on the floor with your palms next to your shoulders. Keeping your back and legs straight (or your back straight and your knees resting on the ground) and your abdominal muscles tight to support your lower back, slowly push your shoulders up off the ground and straighten your arms until they are only slightly bent (do not lock joints). Pause, then slowly lower yourself back down to the floor. Repeat.

To increase intensity and resistance, wear a backpack containing books while you perform this exercise, but make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your back straight.

Abdominal Crunches

Lay on your back with your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head, fingers laced together, to support your neck. Contract your abdominal muscles, pulling your belly button in toward your spine, flattening your lower back against the floor, and raising your shoulder blades off the floor (not your whole back). Pause in the highest position, then slowly lower your shoulder blades to the floor. Repeat.

To increase intensity and resistance, place a book on your chest and fold your arms over it to keep it in place, instead of placing your hands behind your neck.

Calf Raises

Steady yourself by hanging onto a solid object next to a raised surface. Stand up straight and position the balls of your feet at the edge of the raised surface, allowing your heels to hang off. Contract your calf muscles as slowly you raise your body up. Pause in the highest position, then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position. Repeat.

To increase intensity, resistance, and balance, hold hand weights of equal amounts (or cans of tomatoes) while you do this exercise, but only if you can maintain your balance without hanging onto a steady object.

Squats

Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Flex your arms in front of you or place your hands on your hips. Keep your back and neck straight as you bend at the hips and knees, like you were going to sit in a chair. Keep your knees in line with your ankles and do not allow them farther forward than your toes. Pause in the lowest position, then slowly stand up to return to the starting position. Repeat.

To increase intensity and resistance, hold hand weights of equal amounts (or cans of tomatoes) while you perform this exercise.

Other Activities

Remember that other activities can help keep your skeleton strong too, as long as they place force on your bones: climbing stairs, brisk walking, jogging, jumping rope, hiking, dancing, bowling, gardening, step aerobics, yoga, tennis, squash, basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, football, volleyball, gymnastics, skiing, skating, karate, tai chi and qi gong.

No comments: