New Year = More Exercise? Start With These Workouts

If you’re one of the thousands who have made a New Year’s resolution to exercise more—kudos to you. While there may be some doubt as to how effective these resolutions are, any excuse to exercise—improved health, stress relief or weight loss—is a good one.

But before you let your excitement get the best of you, let’s take a step back and make sure you’re kicking off your renewed commitment to exercise the best way possible. Especially if you’re like many who’ve left their exercise routine in November, just as the holiday season settled in.

The truth is, if you’ve taken a month or more off from your exercise routine, you’ll need to ease back into workouts. That means listening to your body and accepting that you may not be able to exercise with the same intensity or endurance as before. But not to worry, you’ll be back up to speed in no time (thanks, muscle memory).

So, if it’s too quick to jump back onto the treadmill for an hour, or attend your favorite HIIT class, where should you start? With resistance exercises.

Not only are there ample benefits that resistance exercises offer (don’t worry, we’ll get to those), they’re also a great way to activate muscle groups and enhance strength, while also minimizing injury and impact. And these exercises will do a great job of revving up your heart rate, too.

Here are just some of the benefits of resistance exercises:

·      Reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke
·      Strengthening bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis
·      Increasing energy and decreasing fatigue
·      Improving depression, anxiety and mental clarity
·      Improving blood pressure
·      Reducing body fat

Five simple resistance exercises (that you can do anywhere):

1. Chair Stand/Squat
·         Stand tall with good posture.
·         Push hips back and down, keeping upper body straight and knees over the heels. Do not let your knees shift forward over your toes. Weight should be centered between ball of foot and the heel.
·         Sit down completely without releasing the tension. Push through your heels, activating your glutes, to rise to the starting position.
·         To increase the challenge: Try adding weights.

2. Bent Knee Bridges
·         Lie on your back, with your knees bent at an angle that allows you to keep your feet flat on the ground. Feet should be hip-width apart.
·         Pushing through your heels, and activating your glutes, lift your hips towards the ceiling until your shoulders, hips and knees are in a straight line. Hold for a count of one-one thousand then slowly lower yourself to the starting position.
·         To increase the challenge: straighten one leg at the knee, holding it in the air so that the thighs maintain alignment with each other. Perform all repetitions on one leg before lowering raised leg, then repeat on.

3. Bent Over Rows
·         Stand tall with good posture and weighted object in hand.
·         Keeping your upper body/back straight, your knees slightly bent and your shoulders pulled back and down, hinge at the hips as far as you can without rounding your back. Lower the weights until they are directly below the shoulders, maintaining tension. Ears, shoulders and hips should stay in alignment.
·         Maintaining this position, pull your elbows straight up to the ceiling, keeping the forearms vertical. Slowly lower the weighted object to directly below the shoulder. Complete all repetitions before standing up.
·         To increase the challenge: Try increasing weights with each set.

4. Seals
·         Lie face down on the ground with your feet extended (toes pointed/relaxed) and your neck neutral, looking down at the ground.
·         Slowly peel yourself off the ground, lifting your head, then your chest and lastly your rib cage away from the ground. Hold for a count of one-one thousand then slowly lower yourself to the starting position.
·         To increase the challenge: Change up your arm position and extend the length of each rep. Place your fingertips on the back of your ears with your elbows flared out to the side. For even more of a challenge, place arms straight overhead in a Superman position.

5. Inclined Planks
·         Stand tall in front of an elevated surface. This could be a table, a bench, etc.
·         Hinge at the hips, maintain good posture and place your elbows on the surface so that they are bent to 90° and directly below the shoulder joint.
·         Keeping your abdominal muscles pulled in and down, step your feet back until your body is in a straight line from the ears through the shoulders, hips and knees to the ankles. Hold this position (aim to hold it for 15 seconds).
·         To increase the challenge: Try using a lower surface. Once you can complete three 60-second planks at that height, progress to a lower surface until you are able to complete all three planks on the floor.

We’re with you from the start.

Whether you’re just starting out or you’re ready to take your exercise regimen to the next level, GMC’s established Sports Medicine program can help. Our experts work to shift your focus away from difficulties to goals, from discomfort to confidence, from injury to strength. This is made possible with our extensive range of services, our knowledgeable specialists and numerous resources. We’re with you every step of the way.

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