1. Cat Camel Stretch
Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.
Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.
Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.
2. Go for a Walk or a Run
This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.
Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!
The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.
Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.
3. Jumping Jacks
Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.” They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.
Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with.
4. Abductor Side Lifts
Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.
5. Balancing Table Pose
This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.
Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.
6. Leg Squats
Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.
Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners. The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
7. Push Ups
You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.
An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.
Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.
This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.
8. Bicycle Crunches
There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.