Many of the activities we do for fun and work count as exercise. Backyard work is a beautiful physical activity. So is ballroom dancing or playing with your kids or grandkids. You always can consider yourself an “active” person as long as you're doing some combination of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day and you include two days of strength training a week, states Gabriel Enescu, physical therapist and clinic director at Excel Physical Therapy in Lodi.
“But what should I do if I don’t have a backyard or the desire to go to gym?” is a common question among our patients says Gabriel.
If you're not an athlete or a determined exerciser, and you want to work out for your health, the gym scene can be intimidating. Just having to encounter those people who enjoy machines, can be enough to make you head straight back home and postpone the experience until next time when you feel brave again.
There are physical activities for your body that don't require the gym and still bring you fantastic benefits, say Gabriel. These mini workouts can do wonders for your health. Let’s look at a few of them.
- Walking. Walking is simple and very efficient. It can help you stay trim, decrease bad cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, improve blood pressure and lift your mood. A number of studies have shown that walking can even improve memory and resist age-related memory loss. Purchase a well-fitted and supportive pair of shoes. Start with walking for about 10 to15 minutes at a time. After a while, you can start to walk farther and faster, until you're walking for 45 to 60 minutes almost every day of the week. You can learn more about how to prepare for walking here.
- Kegel exercises. These exercises won't help you look better, but they will definitely make you feel better about yourself. They will strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence, says Gabriel. Many women are familiar with Kegels, but these exercises can also benefit men. To perform a Kegel exercise, squeeze the muscles you would use to prevent yourself from passing gas. Hold the contraction for five seconds, then release. Repeat as many times as you want. And even better if you can combine the Kegels with walking.
- Tai chi for balance. This Chinese martial art combines movement and relaxation is great for body and mind. Tai chi is made up of a series of balanced movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next. Tai chi is valuable for people of all ages and fitness levels. "It's particularly good for older people,” states Gabriel “because balance is something we lose as we get older."
- Swimming orthe “perfect workout”. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. "Swimming or even walking in the pool is great for individuals with arthritis because it's less weight-bearing," explains Gabriel Enescu. Research has found that swimming can also improve your mental state and put you in a better mood. Water aerobics is another option. Swimming helps you burn calories and tone up. Access here a full guide for stretching exercises for swimming.
- Strengthening Exercise. Lifting light weights won't bulk up your muscles, but it will keep them strong.Muscle also helps burn calories. "The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will use”, says Gabriel Enescu. Research also shows that strength training may also help preserve brain function in later years. Before starting a weight training program, be sure to learn the proper form. Start light, with just one or two pounds. You should be able to lift the weights 10 times with ease. For proper weight lifting and stretching read here more.
These exercises will help keep your weight under control, improve your balance, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even delay the memory loss. No matter your age or fitness level, these activities can help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease.