These easy exercises to improve strength and balance can be done in less than 10 minutes and require no additional equipment. Try these stretching and strengthening moves as a great complement to aerobic activity such as walking, jogging, biking or dancing.
Before any strenuous physical activity, be sure to talk to your doctor.
To stretch your hamstrings and lower back, start by sitting back-to-back with your partner. Extend your legs in front of your body, about hip-width apart. Partner 1 leans back to lightly press body weight into Partner 2, gently allowing her to reach forward for her toes. Do not press too quickly or too deeply into the stretch. Hold the stretch for 6-10 seconds.
Then Partner 2 leans back into Partner 1, gently pressing him toward his toes. Hold the stretch for 6-10 seconds. Lean back and forth, stretching, 3-5 times. Communicate with your partner about what range of motion is comfortable.
To stretch your quadriceps and hip flexor muscles, stand facing your partner, slightly offset. Each partner takes hold of one foot and flexes the knee under the hip. Clasp onto the other's arm above the elbow for balance as you hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Face your partner, each holding the other's arms above the elbows. Slowly squat backward together, keeping your kneecaps pointing forward. Do not allow your knees or arches to collapse inward. Keep your weight equally distributed across your feet and your feet flat on the ground. Sit into the squat until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor (or to a position you can hold). Slowly rise to standing. Do 8-20 repetitions.
Stand facing your partner. Each partner steps to the right into a lateral lunge. Stay low, using the large muscles of the lower body, and move sideways into your lunge. Alternate sides, lunging past your partner. Lunge smoothly and consistently from side to side for 30-60 seconds.
Build muscles with some friendly competition. Level the playing field if one of you is clearly stronger than the other: The stronger partner should perform full push-ups from a toe position; the less-strong partner can do push-ups from the knees. Start together, go at the same tempo and see who can do the most push-ups!
Lie on your back, opposite from your partner, with hips almost touching. Slowly curl your torso into a sit-up, rotate toward your partner and slap a high five. Keep your chin away from your chest to avoid straining your neck. Be sure to contract your abdominals as you curl your torso. Do 8-15 reps, then face the opposite direction and repeat.
This exercise focuses on the stability of your core musculature. Partner 1 starts in the plank position, like doing a push-up with elbows bent and close to the waist and hands beneath the shoulders.
If this is too difficult on the hands, rest on your forearms, as shown. Hold the plank pose for about 60 seconds while Partner 2 gently taps you at various places on the body in an effort to move you.
The goal is to hold the position with as little movement as possible in response to the taps. Partner 1 makes small adjustments in balance and stability to maintain the position while Partner 2 taps. Switch positions and repeat for 60 seconds.
Stand facing your partner. Partner 1 starts moving to the right or left in a shuffling pattern for about 10 feet, switching directions as desired. Partner 2 tries to anticipate and follow the path of Partner 1. Continue for 1-2 minutes. Then let Partner 2 take the lead and repeat.