Using these tips, you can get more physical activity while you go about your normal routine. Getting started is easy—and you don’t need a gym or fancy equipment. Using your body weight and a few simple household objects (phone books, canned goods, towels) as exercise equipment, you can fit short bursts of physical activity into your daily routine.
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Use an old phone book (or more than one if they're thin) for step aerobics, a quick cardio workout. Wrap masking or duct tape around the book to create a safe, firm, nonskid step.
A: Step up onto the phone book and down again for several minutes to warm up.
B: Do a few knee lifts or low front kicks for variety, and turn on some fun music to keep a brisk pace.
Canned foods can be used as inexpensive hand weights.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a can in each hand with arms at your sides. Raise arms to shoulder height with palms facing forward. Lower arms back to starting position at your sides. Do 15-20 repetitions.
A: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Holding the cans with palms facing forward, bend arms at the elbows until the cans are in line with your shoulders at about ear level.
B: Push the cans above your head, then return your arms to the starting position. Do 15-20 repetitions.
Tip: Doing a few arm-and-shoulder exercises in quick progression can help improve your arm tone.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your torso forward slightly, flexing your knees. Hold the cans, palms facing inward, and extend your arms. Raise your arms behind you as far as is comfortable; keep your elbows soft, but do not bend them. Do 15-20 repetitions.
Tip: After doing a few arm movements with cans, make sure you gently rotate your wrists to keep them loose and comfortable.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a can in each hand with palms facing upward, so the cans are parallel to the ground, and your elbows at your sides. Bring both hands toward your chest, bending arms at the elbows and flexing your biceps. Do 15-20 repetitions.
You likely bend dozens of times a day reaching for things on the ground. Turn those bends into squats, which strengthen leg muscles and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis. When you squat down, keep your upper body straight with the majority of your weight on your heels. When returning to standing position, flex from the knees. Repeat the squat five times; squat several times daily.
Hand towels and bath towels provide soft, flexible supports for a few quick moves.
A: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a hand towel in both hands, pulling the ends of the towel tight, and extend your arms in front of your body, keeping the towel at hip level.
B: Slowly raise the towel above your head as you sit back into a squat. Lower your arms as you rise up. Do 10-15 repetitions.
A: Place a folded bath towel on the floor under your chest. From a bent-knee position, place your hands on the towel, shoulder-width apart.
B: Lower your chest toward the towel, and then push up to the starting position. Repeat as many times as you can.
A: Lie on a bath towel folded lengthwise. Position the towel under your spine and neck with a portion extending past your head so you can reach back and hold the end with both hands. Bend your knees with your feet on the floor.
B: Flex your torso up from the waist, using the towel to raise your head and shoulders while stabilizing your neck. Return to starting position. Do 15-20 repetitions.
Lie on your back with one knee bent and your foot placed firmly on the floor. Wrap the towel around the calf or thigh area to help you increase your range of motion for the leg lift. Raise the opposite leg straight up, to the best of your ability, toward the ceiling. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
While brushing your teeth (or washing your hands, or rinsing dishes or doing any other sink or counter activity), raise your heels. Rest one hand on the sink or counter for balance, if necessary. Do 10-15 repetitions.
Tip: This exercise is designed to strengthen your calves and exercise your feet and ankle joints. This is an important movement pattern, especially for people with lower-body edema (swelling) and weak ankle joints. The muscles act as pumps to increase circulation, which may help decrease swelling.