If you’re among the people looking for an excuse not to work out, it won’t take very long to find one. Two of the favorites: “I don’t have time to work out” and “Gym memberships are so expensive.” The fact is that a good workout doesn’t have to be time consuming or costly. Just 30 minutes a day of physical activity can help to improve cardiovascular health as well as help to prevent heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 4 killers in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
Should you or someone you know have a reason for not working out, it’s good to remember the one much greater reason to start exercising: the prospect of a longer, healthier life.
Here are 10 exercises to help you get moving, in addition to walking, walking, walking:
- Lunges – Step forward with one leg and then lower yourself until both knees bend at a 90-degree angle. Rise again and then repeat, ensuring that your front knee never extends past your ankle. Keep your upper body straight and focus your eyes on an object straight ahead, to avoid looking down and breaking form.
- Squats – Space your feet apart, about a hip-width distance. Stand tall, push your shoulders back, lift your chest, and tighten your abdominals. Lower yourself as if you were going to sit in a chair, loading your body weight primarily onto your heels, not your toes, to avoid learning forward.
- Jumping Rope – Here’s a secret: You don’t even need a rope to do it. You can simulate jumping rope and still get cardiovascular benefits from the movement. Start by rotating your wrists as though turning a rope, and then hop from one foot to the other.
- Plank “Elbows and Toes” Position – Place your palms and forearms flat on the floor. Press your toes firmly against the ground. Then, lift your body off of the floor, with your toes curled under, so that your body forms a straight line from the top of your head to your heels – hence making you look like a “plank.” You could start by holding this position for 30 seconds, increasing your time increments as your fitness abilities progress. To modify this position, keep your knees on the floor, so that both your elbows and knees support your weight.
- Push-ups – Start in Plank Position with your hands positioned slightly wider than a shoulder-width distance apart. Keep your toes curled under, firmly against the ground. Bending at the elbows, slowly lower yourself, raise back up, and repeat, using your upper back, shoulders and arms to lift your body weight off of the floor.
- Sit-ups – Lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees at a 90 degree-angle, keeping your feet flat against the ground. Extend your arms out on either side of you or cross them over your chest, to avoid pulling on your neck. Lift your torso toward your thighs while keeping your feet grounded. Then, lower yourself to the starting position and repeat. To work the oblique muscles while in the sit-up position, you could rotate your torso in either direction, or do a cross punch, or both.
- Boat – Sit with your legs straight in front of you. Place your hands on the floor behind your hips for support. Slowly lean back to a 45-degree angle. Bend your knees and then slowly lift your feet off of the ground, extending your legs out straight. While doing that, when you’re ready, lift your hands off of the ground, extending your arms out straight on either side of you.
- Jumping Jacks – There are a variety of modifications to the traditional jumping jack, either to increase or decrease the intensity. To put less stress on the lower back, consider stepping out from one side to the other as you raise both arms, keeping one foot grounded at all times. Alternatively, to make a traditional jumping jack more challenging, consider trying an air jack. Stand tall with both feet close together and then bend at the knees. Then jump up, doing a jack in mid-air, before landing again with both knees slightly bent.
- Jogging – Each person’s “running mechanics” are unique to that person’s body, strength and flexibility. Generally speaking, it’s often good to maintain a short, quick stride, assuring that your foot strikes the ground directly beneath your knee, not in front of it. Keep your elbows bent at roughly 90 degrees, and relax your hands.
- Vinyasa yoga – Vinyasa, which involves certain kinds of synchronized body movements, postures, and breathing, is great for yoga beginners. It’s also the most popular type of yoga in the U.S. and has the least strict of the various yoga formats. Vinyasa includes a variety of poses; sun salutations and warrior poses are perhaps the best known.
Whichever exercises you might adopt into your workout routine, every step could bring you closer to a healthier – and potentially happier – life. Each person’s constitution and health differ, however, so it’s always good to consult a physician before starting a workout regimen.