5 Exercises You Can Do Without Getting Out of Bed!

Improve your posture and flexibility before your morning coffee.  

Rise and shine! There’s nothing like a morning stretch to rev up your body. But, if you haven’t been exercising for a while you’ll understand how hard it is to start. This is why I want to start you out with some super simple exercises that can be completed without even getting up. These exercises are meant to supplement your current daily exercise routine, which for some of you could be a little (like tending the garden or evening strolls) or a lot! A good exercise program is like a healthy diet: you need variety. You can spice up your regular routine by adding these 5 simple exercises. Once you’ve got these 5 exercises down remember to check back for more!

The following 5 exercises will help with your flexibility and your posture. They are meant to be completed lying down or sitting up in your bed or on the floor. The last 2 exercises (chest stretch and back twist) can be done on a chair.

1. Bridges

Bridges

How to:

  • Lie on your bed.
  • Place your hands at your side. Bend your knees and place your feet below your knees.  Let your knees be hip width apart.
  • Pull in your belly button.
  • Push your hips up towards the ceiling.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.  Keep breathing.
  • Lower back down to the bed slowly.

How Often: Repeat 10 times. Rest; repeat 10 more times.

Why:This will help make your legs and your stomach

2. Big Stretch

Big Stretch

How to:

  • Lie on your bed and reach your arms behind you as far as you can.
  • Point your toes towards the end of the bed.
  • Take several deep breath, count to 15 then relax

How Often: Repeat 3 times.

Why: This will help with your posture and should feel really good!

3. Gentle Twist 
Gentle Twist 1

How to:

  • Lie on your bed; knees bent and your feet flat on your bed, lined up under your knees.
  • Bring your arms out to the side, palms up
  • Slowly drop both knees over to the right. Pause here for 20 seconds, breathing and relaxing.

How Often: Repeat on other side.

Why: This will relax your low back and hips and help you move better when walking and dancing!

4. Chest Stretch
Chest Stretch

How To:

  • Sit up straight in a chair.
  • Take a deep breath and reach your arms out to the side as wide as you can while squeezing your shoulder blades together.  This stretch is looks like you’re going to give someone a big hug!
  • Keep breathing as you count to 20, and then relax.

 

How Often: 3 times per day.

Why: This will make it easier to sit up nice and straight.  Keep your beautiful posture!

5. Back Twist 

Back Twist

How to:

  • Sit up nice and straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly twist to the left from the waist without moving your hips. Then turn your head to the left too.
  • You can hold on to the back of the chair to twist a little bit further to the left.
  • Count to 20 then relax.
  • Do the same thing on the other side.

How Often: Repeat 3 times on each side.

Why:This will create more movement in your back and help with posture.

Disclaimer: It is best to consult your physician before starting a new exercise routine.

 

 

**Special thanks to Dr. Carol Giuliani (PhD Level Physical Therapist) whose contributions made this blog article possible. **

**Thanks to Trinh Le for her assistance in developing this post.

PHOTO CREDITS

  1. https://lh6.ggpht.com/2wEgbMaFCDzggcWIjm3XfxOMLQsUEwnT9TIY9J8jBKGBMQuh6OzHaqBvdX5yV3w3HgYNHA=s139
  2. https://lh3.ggpht.com/9r99_dFEoyBj-6x4rM64aVLY53t7n-zltGSOLWepZAu_QwHpRNV3_Qdx-hhhCYXC5rN0=s170
  3. http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/04_d_parte%20inf%20de%20la%20espalda.png
  4. http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/04_d_pecho.png
  5. http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/04_d_espalda2.png
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Get a Grip…on your health!

What is “grip strength” and why should you care?

HandshakeRemember when you were told that the strength of your handshake really mattered for setting up good first impressions? Well, I am here to tell you that the strength of your handgrip matters for setting up good first impressions about your health!

In my world the word “grip strength” has a different mean. It refers to the maximum strength derived when you contract the muscles in your hands. It is a popular test that is used to understand your functional as well as your nutritional status. A review published in 2011 found that patients who scored poorly on grip strength had more complications after surgery, longer hospital stays and higher rates of hospitalizations compared to those who had adequate grip strength1. Additionally, grip strength is useful to help us identify persons at risk for mobility limitation2.

Your grip strength test tells us a lot about whether or not you are getting good nutrition or have good mobility. But why should this matter to you?

As we age, one of the most important things we want to preserve is our ability to perform “activities of daily living (ADL).” ADL is a fancy way of referring to the basic things we need to do in order to live such as eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and so forth1. For us to be able to the ADL’s require that we have good strength and dexterity especially with our hands.  Having good grip strength allows you to do the simple tasks in life such as opening a jar of spaghetti sauce or turning the doorknob.

Thankfully, there is a simple exercise you can do that will help to improve your handgrip strength. This exercise is featured as part of the Go4Life program from the National Institute on Aging3. All you’ll need is a tennis ball or small rubber or foam ball:

Doorknob

Tennis Ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step by Step Instructions3
  1. Hold a tennis ball or other small rubber or foam ball in one hand.
  2. Slowly squeeze the ball as hard as you can and hold it for 3-5 seconds.
  3. Relax the squeeze slowly.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times.
  5. Repeat 10-15 times with other hand.
  6. Repeat 10-15 times more with each hand.

 

Here is video of the exercise as featured by the National Institute on Aging:

That was easy wasn’t it? It sort of reminds me of squeezing a foam stress ball to relieve tension whenever I feel tense.  This same simple exercise can be done while watching TV, waiting for an appointment or sitting in church.  There’s never a better time to improve your hands! Next week I will be featuring exercises for equally important body parts. Check back for more and happy reading!

Disclaimer: It is best to consult your physician before starting a new exercise routine.

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21035927
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20863331
  3. http://go4life.nia.nih.gov/try-these-exercises/strength/hand-grip

PHOTO CREDITS

  1. http://go4life.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/handgrip.jpg?1282836684
  2. http://wwwdelivery.superstock.com/WI/223/1829/PreviewComp/SuperStock_1829-11463.jp
  3. http://doctor2008.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/handshake.jpg

Special Thanks to Trinh Le for her assistance with this post.

Protein Is Good For You…Right? Does it make your bones brittle?

I was recently speaking with a women’s circle group about protein consumption during their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s (years of life).  There was a room full of women who were asking lots of questions about how much protein they should consume to prevent muscle loss and strive for optimal health during aging.  One woman raised her hand and asked “What about animal protein and calcium?  I heard that eating too much animal protein can make your bones brittle?”  Wow!  I was so impressed by her question because this is something that is talked about (lots) in the nutrition world.

I thought I would share my answer here in case any of you have the same question.

Animal Protein and calcium intake do go hand in hand.  Many people have read that increasing animal protein intake may increase calcium excretion…and therefore lead to poor bone health and a potential for more fractures (wrist, spine and hip). Not a good thing.  However, in the past 2-3 years we have learned more about the topic and now realize that higher protein intake actually leads to a higher absorption of calcium.  Very cool!

So how much is a lot?  Well, it seems that those who get ~800mg of calcium/day AND who eat high amounts of protein (85+grams/day) seem to have the lowest risk of developing a fracture.

If you don’t have higher intakes of both (800mg of calcium and 85+grams of protein) you  may be a greater risk for poor bone health so it is important to think of protein and calcium together when meal planning.

So eat up…enjoy those lean animal proteins and get some calcium.  You’ll be helping your bones as well as your muscles!!

—-

References:

1.  Shapses SA, et al.  Hormonal and dietary influences on true fractional calcium absorption in women: role of obesity. Osteoporos Int. 2012

2.  Sahni S., et al.  Protective effect of high protein and calcium intake on the risk of hip fracture in the Framingham Offspring Cohort.  Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2010.

Image:  http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/nutrition-101/calcium-magnesium-vitamin-k-00400000055855/page2.html

Eating to Get the Most Out of Exercise

Eating to Get the Most Out of Exercise

The impact of exercise on aging has been a focus of research in recent years. According to one study, aerobic physical activity has the ability “to improve sleep quality, mood and quality of life in older adults with chronic insomnia” (Reid et al., 2010). This is just one of many findings that support the positive influence of physical activity on health – at all ages.

It is extremely beneficial to stay physically active as we age, and what we eat to fuel our bodies is just as important as the exercise itself.  One JAMA study found an association between decline in physical function and low levels of dietary vitamin E in older adults. Of upmost importance is ensuring that we consume enough calories to support our activity level. Ideally, 30 grams of protein should be consumed at every meal of the day because sufficient amounts of protein are necessary to build muscle and strength.

 

Not only does physical activity improve functioning and prevent disability, it also increases and preserves skeletal muscle mass. Specifically, progressive resistance training (PRT) has been shown in both animals and humans to reverse losses of both muscle (sarcopenia) and bone mass (osteopenia). Regular exercise has the ability to both alter body composition and partially offset adverse body composition changes associated with aging.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that older adults:

1. Do moderately intense aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week

OR

Do vigorously intense aerobic exercise for 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week

2. Do 8-10 strength-training exercising, 10-15 repetitions of each twice times per week

3. Perform balance exercises

  1. Have a physical activity plan

Here’s a great handout about exercising: Exercise and Physical Activity-Getting Fit for Life

Guest Blogger:  Brenna Keane

 

Referenced: “Findings suggest link between vitamin E and subsequent decline in physical function for older adults,” response article to JAMA. 2008; 299[3]:308-315. Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Reid et al. Sleep Medicine. 2010; 11: 934-940. Nutrition for the Older Adult. Bernstein and Luggen.