It’s easy to let the weather discourage exercise. Here a few routines you can start during winter and continue outside when the weather shapes up.
2 exercises for a stronger core
Core-strength exercises build your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis. Core fitness builds strength that goes beyond the gym and improves everyday wellness.
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground. Or, rest your legs on a chair or bench with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet about 4 inches apart, pointing your toes inward so they touch.
- Put your hands lightly on either side of your head, elbows in, without locking your fingers.
- Push your lower back down, roll your shoulders off the floor about four inches, contract your abdominal muscles, and exhale.
- At the top, contract your abdominals again for one second.
- Inhale as you return to the starting position.
- Repeat the movements slowly for 3 sets, with 12 repetitions, resting 30 seconds in between.
2. Side planks
- Lie on your side with your forearm extended at roughly a 90-degree angle.
- Keeping your body straight, lift up, resting your weight on your forearm.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold for 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.
- For more of a challenge, balance on your hand. Raise your hips off the floor and extend your other arm toward the ceiling.
Breathe freely and deeply during core-strength exercises. For the best effect, focus on your abdominal muscles, particularly the one you feel contracting when you cough. This is the transversus abdominis, your deepest abdominal muscle.
- Start from a standing position
- Squat down and put your hands in a pushup position
- Kick your feet out behind you
- Do a push up
- Bring your legs back into a squatting position
- Jump in the air
Begin with 3 sets of 10 with a rest in between, and work toward 30 continuous reps.
Body weight squats
- Stand with your hands behind your head, feet shoulder-width apart
- Squat down low as if sitting in a chair, bringing your thighs parallel to the floor or lower
- Return to the starting position
Count your steps for anytime fitness
Most health professionals recommend 10,000 steps, though that number is just a guideline, and activities like swimming afford even more intense exercise without counting as steps. Regardless of the exact number of steps, studies show that regular walking can prolong your lifespan.
Activity trackers are one way of keeping an eye on your steps, whether they’re in the mall, office complex, grocery store, around the house, or outdoors.
Jumping rope can be a warmup or an exercise, and has been widely adopted at boxing gyms for years. As with any exercise, the proper form is essential to avoiding injuries.
- Check your ceiling height if trying this indoors
- Choose a rope length that reaches your armpits
- Land on the balls of your feet, not flat-footed
- Keep your ankles, knees and shoulders flexed
- Stay low to the ground
- Use your forearms and elbows to spin the rope
- Breathe through your nose
Work up your endurance over time until you can reach 15 minutes.
An ancient way to begin and end exercise
Qi Gong (pronounced “chee gong”) is a general term for exercises originating in China as much as 5,000 years ago.
This is a pre-warm- up for any exercise routine.
- Smile. Place the tip of your tongue behind your top row of teeth.
- Stand in an upright but relaxed posture. Keep your neck and shoulders loose.
- Sink slightly, keeping your knees flexed, not locked.
- Let your arms rest at a slightly greater distance than usual from your sides.
- Breathe gently, letting your abdomen rise and fall.
Ending and storing
After your workout:
- Take a moment to let your heart slow down and your muscles relax.
- Stand in an upright but relaxed posture.
- Bring your hands to your lower abdomen, just below the navel, and lightly cover one hand with the other.
- Visualize storing the energy you built during exercise in the area below the navel.
(Adapted from Primal Energy, An Introduction to Qigong.)