These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

The 2 exercises that will keep you fit for life

These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

If you want to live a long and healthy life, you should make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

It will keep your brain healthy and can add years to your life. Researchers have found that many fit older adults have the muscles and bones of people years — even decades — younger.

And any exercise is good for you, whether you go for a quick swim or jog or even if you are just walking to the store instead of driving.

If you are doing any or all of that, great.

But while a basic minimum amount of exercise does have huge benefits, there are still potentially even greater benefits from doing more.

If you really want to stay strong even as you age and your body starts to decline, there are two exercises that are essential, Dr. Michael Joyner, a physician and Mayo Clinic researcher who is one of the world’s top experts on fitness and human performance, tells Business Insider.

But these aren’t easy: burpees and jumping rope. (He recommends trying a weighted jump rope.)

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Why burpees and jumping rope?

No matter what, your body starts to lose strength as you age. Most people reach their strength peak around age 25, and some research shows marathon runners tend to be fastest at 28, though, of course, this is going to vary from person to person. If you started strength-training after 25 and hadn’t before, your peak would come later.

But if you want to truly stay fit, you’re going to need to keep building strength to combat your body’s natural loss of muscle mass. It’s worth it to do so, and it may be the thing that keeps you young longest.

As Joyner wrote for Outside Magazine, “study after study is showing that simple tests of physical performance are highly predictive of future mortality.

” To achieve peak physical performance at any age, you need to go beyond endurance to build strength.

You can build strength in a lot of ways — lifting weights and adding intervals to endurance workouts both work. But these two workouts will build both your endurance and your strength, all at once.

“On hard days, I’ll sometimes alternate a minute of burpees with sets using a weighted jump rope,” Joyner tells us.


How to do these workouts

Trainers love to recommend burpees, simply because they’re hard to beat in terms of single exercises that will work your whole body.

Instagram-famous fitness trainer Kayla Itsines recently said a burpee with a push-up would be the exercise she’d choose “if she had to pick one” for a full-body workout; and if you want a real crazy challenge, you could try trainer Bobby Maximus’ “prison burpee” workout that he uses to challenge Special Forces soldiers.

But it’s worth starting slow with burpees just to make sure you get the form right. If you start standing, you’ll then squat down until you can put your hands on the ground. Kick back into plank position, do a push-up, then kick your legs back into your squat position. Then jump.

Here’s a GIF to show you how it works,

This video by XHIT Daily on is also useful, showing burpees done with a wider stance, which can be more stable for someone not accustomed to the exercise.

Jumping rope with a weighted rope is a more straightforward exercise, but the challenge is no joke. You can find a variety of recommended workouts, but generally (once you get up to speed), you’ll want to do a series of sets, perhaps alternating with another exercise. If you’re feeling tough, you can try alternating with burpees, Joyner.

Just remember this, though: These workouts are going to be hard. It’s great to push yourself, and there’s plenty of research showing strong benefits for vigorous exercise. But it takes time to build up to these kinds of exercises (and practice to get them right), and you should talk to your doctor first if you’re worried you might injure yourself.

Anyone who wants to attempts these intense workouts also needs to remember to rest. Most trainers recommend alternating between hard days and easy days.

“Make your hard days hard and your easy days easy,” says Joyner. “Control your pace or it will control you.”

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The 4 most important types of exercise

These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

Exercise is key to good health. But we tend to limit ourselves to one or two types of activity.

“People do what they enjoy, or what feels the most effective, so some aspects of exercise and fitness are ignored,” says Rachel Wilson, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

In reality, we should all be doing aerobics, stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises. Here, we list what you need to know about each exercise type and offer examples to try, with a doctor's okay.

1. Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise, which speeds up your heart rate and breathing, is important for many body functions. It gives your heart and lungs a workout and increases endurance.

“If you're too winded to walk up a flight of stairs, that's a good indicator that you need more aerobic exercise to help condition your heart and lungs, and get enough blood to your muscles to help them work efficiently,” says Wilson.

Aerobic exercise also helps relax blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure, burn body fat, lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, boost mood, and raise “good” HDL cholesterol.

Combined with weight loss, it can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, too.

Over the long term, aerobic exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression, and falls.

Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity. Try brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, dancing, or classes step aerobics.

Starting position: Stand tall with your feet together and arms at your sides.Movement: Bend your elbows and swing your arms as you lift your knees.March in a variety of styles:
  • March in place.
  • March four steps forward, and then four steps back.
  • March in place with feet wide apart.
  • Alternate marching feet wide and together (out, out, in, in).

Tips and techniques:

  • Look straight ahead, and keep your abs tight.
  • Breathe comfortably, and don't clench your fists.

Make it easier: March slower and don't lift your knees as high.Make it harder: Lift your knees higher, march faster, and really pump your arms.

2. Strength training

As we age, we lose muscle mass. Strength training builds it back. “Regular strength training will help you feel more confident and capable of daily tasks carrying groceries, gardening, and lifting heavier objects around the house. Strength training will also help you stand up from a chair, get up off the floor, and go up stairs,” says Wilson.

Strengthening your muscles not only makes you stronger, but also stimulates bone growth, lowers blood sugar, assists with weight control, improves balance and posture, and reduces stress and pain in the lower back and joints.

A physical therapist can design a strength training program that you can do two to three times a week at a gym, at home, or at work. It will ly include body weight exercises squats, push-ups, and lunges, and exercises involving resistance from a weight, a band, or a weight machine.

“Remember, it's important to feel some muscle fatigue at the end of the exercise to make sure you are working or training the muscle group effectively,” Wilson says.

Starting position: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.Movement: Slowly bend your hips and knees, lowering your buttocks about eight inches, as if you're sitting back into a chair. Let your arms swing forward to help you balance. Keep your back straight. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 8-12 times.Tips and techniques:
  • Shift your weight into your heels.
  • Squeeze your buttocks as you stand to help you balance.

Make it easier: Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet hip-width apart and arms crossed over your chest. Tighten your abdominal muscles and stand up. Slowly sit down with control.Make it harder: Lower farther, but not past your thighs being parallel to the floor.

3. Stretching

Stretching helps maintain flexibility. We often overlook that in youth, when our muscles are healthier. But aging leads to a loss of flexibility in the muscles and tendons.

Muscles shorten and don't function properly.

That increases the risk for muscle cramps and pain, muscle damage, strains, joint pain, and falling, and it also makes it tough to get through daily activities, such as bending down to tie your shoes.

wise, stretching the muscles routinely makes them longer and more flexible, which increases your range of motion and reduces pain and the risk for injury.

Aim for a program of stretching every day or at least three or four times per week.

Warm up your muscles first, with a few minutes of dynamic stretches—repetitive motion such as marching in place or arm circles. That gets blood and oxygen to muscles, and makes them amenable to change.

Then perform static stretches (holding a stretch position for up to 60 seconds) for the calves, the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, and the muscles of the shoulders, neck, and lower back.

“However, don't push a stretch into the painful range. That tightens the muscle and is counterproductive,” says Wilson.

Starting position: Lie on your back with your legs extended on the floor.Movement: Relax your shoulders against the floor. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on your right thigh just above the knee. Tighten your abdominal muscles, then grasp your left knee with your right hand and gently pull it across your body toward your right side.Hold 10 to 30 seconds.Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.


10 Best Exercises for Everyone

These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

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We know daily exercise is good for optimizing health. But with so many options and limitless information available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what works. But not to worry. We’ve got your back (and body)!

Check out the 10 exercises you can do for ultimate fitness. Combine them into a routine for a workout that’s simple but powerful and sure to keep you in shape for the rest of your life. After 30 days — although you can also do them just twice a week — you should see improvements in your muscular strength, endurance, and balance.

Plus, notice a difference in how your clothes fit — winning!

One surefire way to attack your fitness regimen effectively? Keep the fuss to a minimum and stick with the basics.

1. Lunges

Challenging your balance is an essential part of a well-rounded exercise routine. Lunges do just that, promoting functional movement, while also increasing strength in your legs and glutes.

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms down at your sides.
  2. Take a step forward with your right leg and bend your right knee as you do so, stopping when your thigh is parallel to the ground. Ensure that your right knee doesn’t extend past your right foot.
  3. Push up off your right foot and return to the starting position. Repeat with your left leg. This is one rep.
  4. Complete 10 reps for 3 sets.

2. Pushups

Drop and give me 20! Pushups are one of the most basic yet effective bodyweight moves you can perform because of the number of muscles that are recruited to perform them.

  1. Start in a plank position. Your core should be tight, shoulders pulled down and back, and your neck neutral.
  2. Bend your elbows and begin to lower your body down to the floor. When your chest grazes it, extend your elbows and return to the start. Focus on keeping your elbows close to your body during the movement.
  3. Complete 3 sets of as many reps as possible.

If you can’t quite perform a standard pushup with good form, drop down to a modified stance on your knees — you’ll still reap many of the benefits from this exercise while building strength.

3. Squats

Squats increase lower body and core strength, as well as flexibility in your lower back and hips. Because they engage some of the largest muscles in the body, they also pack a major punch in terms of calories burned.

  1. Start by standing straight, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your arms at your sides.
  2. Brace your core and, keeping your chest and chin up, push your hips back and bend your knees as if you’re going to sit in a chair.
  3. Ensuring your knees don’t bow inward or outward, drop down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, bringing your arms out in front of you in a comfortable position. Pause for one second, then extend your legs and return to the starting position.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 20 reps.

4. Standing overhead dumbbell presses

Compound exercises, which utilize multiple joints and muscles, are perfect for busy bees as they work several parts of your body at once. A standing overhead press isn’t only one of the best exercises you can do for your shoulders, it also engages your upper back and core.

Equipment: 10-pound dumbbells

  1. Pick a light set of dumbbells — we recommend 10 pounds to start — and start by standing, either with your feet shoulder-width apart or staggered. Move the weights overhead so your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
  2. Bracing your core, begin to push up until your arms are fully extended above your head. Keep your head and neck stationary.
  3. After a brief pause, bend your elbows and lower the weight back down until your tricep is parallel to the floor again.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.

5. Dumbbell rows

Not only will these make your back look killer in that dress, dumbbell rows are another compound exercise that strengthens multiple muscles in your upper body. Choose a moderate-weight dumbbell and ensure that you’re squeezing at the top of the movement.

Equipment: 10-pound dumbbells

  1. Start with a dumbbell in each hand. We recommend no more than 10 pounds for beginners.
  2. Bend forward at the waist so your back is at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Be certain not to arch your back. Let your arms hang straight down. Ensure your neck is in line with your back and your core is engaged.
  3. Starting with your right arm, bend your elbow and pull the weight straight up toward your chest, making sure to engage your lat, and stopping just below your chest.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat with the left arm. This is one rep. Repeat 10 times for 3 sets.

6. Single-leg deadlifts

This is another exercise that challenges your balance. Single-leg deadlifts require stability and leg strength. Grab a light to moderate dumbbell to complete this move.

Equipment: dumbbell

  1. Begin standing with a dumbbell in your right hand and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Hinging at the hips, begin to kick your left leg straight back behind you, lowering the dumbbell down toward the ground.
  3. When you reach a comfortable height with your left leg, slowly return to the starting position in a controlled motion, squeezing your right glute. Ensure that your pelvis stays square to the ground during the movement.
  4. Repeat 10 to 12 reps before moving the weight to your left hand and repeating the same steps on the left leg.

7. Burpees

An exercise we love to hate, burpees are a super effective whole-body move that provides great bang for your buck for cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength.

  1. Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.
  2. With your hands out in front of you, start to squat down. When your hands reach the ground, pop your legs straight back into a pushup position.
  3. Do a pushup.
  4. Come back up to the starting pushup position and jump your feet up to your palms by hinging at the waist. Get your feet as close to your hands as you can get, landing them outside your hands if necessary.
  5. Stand up straight, bringing your arms above your head and jump.
  6. This is one rep. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps as a beginner.

8. Side planks

A healthy body requires a strong core at its foundation, so don’t neglect core-specific moves the side plank. Focus on the mind-muscle connection and controlled movements to ensure you’re completing this move effectively.

  1. Lie on your right side with your left leg and foot stacked on top of your right leg and foot. Prop your upper body up by placing your right forearm on the ground, elbow directly under your shoulder.
  2. Contract your core to stiffen your spine and lift your hips and knees off the ground, forming a straight line with your body.
  3. Return to start in a controlled manner. Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 reps on one side, then switch.

9. Situps

Although they get a bad rap as being too basic, situps are an effective way to target your abdominal muscles. If you have lower back problems, stick with a crunch, which requires just your upper back and shoulders to lift off the ground.

  1. Start by lying on the ground on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and your hands behind your head.
  2. Keeping your feet glued to the ground, begin to roll up from your head, engaging your core throughout. Don’t strain your neck during the upward motion.
  3. When your chest reaches your legs, begin the controlled phase back down to the starting position.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 15 reps as a beginner.

10. Glute bridge

The glute bridge effectively works your entire posterior chain, which isn’t only good for you, but will make your booty look perkier as well.

  1. Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms straight at your sides with your palms facing down.
  2. Pushing through your heels, raise your hips off the ground by squeezing your core, glutes, and hamstrings. Your upper back and shoulders should still be in contact with the ground, and your core down to your knees should form a straight line.
  3. Pause 1-2 seconds at the top and return to the starting position.
  4. Complete 10-12 reps for 3 sets.

These fundamental exercises will do your body good, but there’s always room to keep pushing it. If you notice yourself breezing through and barely breaking a sweat, focus on progressive overload by making each move more challenging by:

  • adding 5 more reps
  • adding more weight
  • tacking on a jump to moves squats and lunges

Another way to switch it up? Turn the routine into a time-under-tension workout, completing each move for a set amount of time instead of for a set number of reps.

Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue. Follow her on Instagram.


Be Fit for Life

These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

Making physical activity part of your routine gives other important benefits too, such as:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
  • More positive mood
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Improved stress management

How much physical activity do you need to get the most benefits? That may depend on what you want to achieve. To reach and stay at a healthy level of fitness, experts recommend:

Get Your Heart Pumping

Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of any exercise routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more days a week. Or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity three or more days a week.

Don’t have 30 minutes a day? Studies show that exercising for 10 minutes three times a day gives the same benefits as 30 minutes of non-stop exercise. You don't need fancy equipment for cardio exercises. Plenty of cardio exercises rely only on your body, such as jumping jacks.

Brisk walking, running, dancing, jumping rope, swimming, and cycling are other cardio exercises you might try—indoors or outdoors, alone or with friends.

Grow Stronger

Improve your muscle tone with strength training.Aim for 8–10 resistance exercises on two or more days a week. Resistance exercises use an opposing force to increase muscle size and strength. Dumbbells or barbells are commonly used for resistance exercises.

You also can use your own body weight, bricks, bottles of water, or any other object that causes your muscles to contract. Include a set of exercises for each major muscle group: arms, legs, back, and chest. Each exercise set should include 8–12 repetitions. That means lifting and lowering the weights 8–12 times slowly.

As you get stronger, you might want to work up to two or three sets of exercises for each major muscle group.

Stretch and Connect with Your Body

Stretching can improve your flexibility and balance. It also can help you perform better and reduce your risk of injury during other activities.

When done safely and properly, stretching can help relax tense muscles and create a sense of well-being. You can stretch anytime, anywhere.

Try for 20–30 minutes of stretching activities two or three days a week. Stretch each of the major muscle groups.

Take a Stand for Health

Recent studies show that sitting for a long time is bad for your health, even if you exercise regularly. Sitting too much has been linked to heart attacks, heart disease, and death from cancer, although experts aren’t sure why. Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your sitting time and maintain your health:

  • Break up sitting times. Try to get up and move around about every 30 minutes or so.
  • Stand when you can. If you work in an office, try a standing desk. More workplaces are making standing desks available to employees.
  • Give yourself reminders to sit less. At home, get your chair briefly at every TV commercial.
  • At work, use a smaller coffee cup or glass so you need to make more trips for refills. Or schedule several walking or standing meetings a week.


10 Ways to Fit More Fitness Into Your Day

These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

Find it a real struggle to get to the gym? Worried that not working out is having a negative impact on your body and mind? Relax. The amount of exercise you need for good health is probably less than you think.

According to the latest government guidelines, published in November 2018 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adults should be getting a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week — and any physical activity you squeeze into your day counts toward that goal, even if only for a few minutes.

Surprised that such short bits of exercise can have a significant impact on your health? Recent research bears it out.

A study published in August 2014 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) found that running a little as five minutes a day delivers a wide range of benefits, including significantly reducing your risk of dying early.

And the more brief bits of activity you fit in (many everyday activities count), the greater the life-extending benefits will be, according to research published in March 2018 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Rather than the traditional way of saying, ‘To get fit you need to go to the gym and do a moderate-intensity workout for 150 minutes a week,’ there’s now a lot of research showing how important and beneficial it is to move throughout the day,” says Karen Reznik Dolins, RD, EdD, an adjunct associate professor of sports nutrition at Columbia University’s Teachers College and New York University in New York City. “Someone who is doing a vigorous workout for an hour every day but sitting or sleeping for the other 23 hours is not necessarily achieving a good level of fitness.”

In fact, the government’s updated physical activity guidelines include a new warning about the risks associated with sitting too much throughout the day.

Although there’s not enough evidence yet to determine precisely how much sitting is too much, the guidelines do note that even if you meet the physical activity requirements, high amounts of sedentary behavior can still increase your risk of health problems.

Here are some activities that’ll keep you moving throughout the day, no gym required. Bonus: In addition to helping you become more physically fit, each does a great job of burning calories, according to Harvard Health.

No-equipment-needed walking is so easy and so beneficial, it may be the most underrated form of exercise. Just two of its many impressive benefits are:

A Healthier Heart Simply spreading 21 minutes of walking throughout each day can lower your risk of heart failure by 30 percent, according to a study published in September 2018 in the journal JACC: Heart Failure.

An earlier National Walker's Health study, published in May 2013 in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, linked regular walking to a 7 percent lower risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

A Longer Life Walking 10,000 steps per day lowered a healthy person’s risk of early death from all causes by 46 percent, according to a 10-year study published in November 2015 in the journal PLoS One.

What’s more, walking has one of the lowest injury rates of any form of exercise, according to the 2018 Physical Activities Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Tip: You can make counting those steps extra easy by using an app or a fitness tracker.

Making your garden beautiful by digging, weeding, raking, mowing, and sowing seeds can burn 100 calories in 15 minutes.

Gardening also has other benefits. A 44-year study published in March 2019 in the journal Neurology linked gardening as little as four hours a week to as much as a 56 percent lower risk of dementia. It’s an excellent stress buster, which may confer a mental-health benefit.

In a small Dutch study, folks were given a stressful task then asked to either read indoors or garden outdoors for 30 minutes.

Afterwards, the gardening group had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than the reading group, and they reported feeling significantly more upbeat.

Tip: Be sure to wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to lower your risk for sunburn and skin cancer.


Do These 5 Exercises Every Day to Stay Fit for Life

These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

Have you completed your “daily functional five” workout today?

That’s what Kimberly Watkins, a New York City based fitness expert and CEO of inSHAPE Fitness and inMOTION Exercise on Demand, wants to know.

She says that everyone should have a simple set of functional exercises that they can easily carve out time for every day.

“Even on days when you have other exercise plans, get bed and make a bee-line for a spot on the floor where you can spend as little as five minutes—60 seconds per move—to distribute blood flow to muscles, lubricate the joints and boost your metabolism,” she said.

These exercises should also serve to improve the strength needed to function in life.

“For example, being able to endure an elevated heart rate, lowering down to the ground and getting up,” Watkins explained. “Furthermore, to live without pain, relatively speaking, to sleep well and maintain a level of energy one needs to get through the day are all the competencies of a successful functional fitness regimen.”

And when you want to take this simple workout up a notch or two, she suggests increasing the time spent on each move, adding challenging variations, incorporating multiple sets or any combination of the three. You can also try working with resistance equipment to create more of a challenge.

“It easily can become a complete session,” Watkins said. “And on those days when you have hit the snooze button, missed the gym time, but really need the boost, five minutes will lend a hand to get you through the morning.”

Watkins suggests performing the following five exercises as part of your “daily functional five” routine in order to ensure that you get at least some exercise every day, and so that you can stay healthy, happy and fit for life. 

1. Walk-Out Push-Up
Watkins says that this move targets multiple muscle groups and incorporates multiple planes of movement, and therefore accelerates the heart rate.

Start standing with your feet about hip-width distance apart. Slowly fold forward at the hips, reaching your hands to the floor.

When your hands touch the floor, slowly being to walk them forward until your spine is neutral and you're in the push-up starting position.

Perform a full push-up and then walk your hands back towards your feet and slowly roll your spine up, one vertebrae at a time, to return to the standing position. 

Variations: walk-out Spiderman push-up; walk-out T-stabilization push-up; walk-out to burpee (earthworm)

2. Standard Squat
“Squats force the brain to actively participate,” Watkins explained.

“To get the foot placement correct; to focus on even weight distribution between the left and right leg; to keep the chest high and back straight; to engage the glutes; to pause at the change of direction in order to prevent momentum from building; and the full elongation of the hips when standing. “ She suggested using a wall to help modify the move if needed.

Variations: squat with forward kicks;sumo squat with lateral leg lift; squat, salute and reach (left arm up and forward as right leg extends backwards and up, then opposite)

3. Jumping Jacks
“Loads of people roll their eyes at the age-old jumping jack,” Watkins said. “However, a dash of plyometrics is so beneficial when it comes to functional fitness.

Neuro-transmitters that reside in the feet are rendered so sleepy as a result of shoe-filled, sedentary lives. Light impact is great to wake those crazy critters up.

the walk-outs, the jacks, when performed with control, also work multiple muscle groups and get the heart rate up.”

Variations: crisscross jacks; power jacks; squat jacks

4. Hip Bridge
Watkins said she s this move because it will get you on the floor. “A level of happiness for all,” she added. Plus, with the squat, the brain is actively engaged with this move. “Foot placement, weight distribution and breathing are vital elements,” Watkins said.

“Keeping the toes on the floor is another element of this controlled proprioception. If your heels absorb all of your body weight, your lower back absorbs more pressure. When the toes stay down, however, the hamstrings and glutes engage and help elongate the hips as the body changes direction.

Variations: ballerina bridge (with heels off the floor); Swiss ball hip extension; single-leg hip bridge dips

5. Plank
“We classify almost all upper body work for regular people into one category that we call, PPHC—pushing, pulling, holding and carrying,” Watkins explained.

“Yes, various combinations of muscles are utilized, but because we are focused on regular life function, we teach people to think about the stabilization of the rib cage and gluteo-hip area as the pinnacle force in any activity that involves arm movement.

A basic plank flips that switch on the encasement muscles of the vital organs and rib cage and should never be left out.”

Variations: “cork screw” hips; “three-limb” planks (arm punches, leg lifts, etc); mermaid Plank (with your feet inverted—resting on the tops of the feet)


6 Exercises You Can Do in Your Car

These Two Simple Exercises Can Keep You Fit for Life

Unless you live in a city, you ly spend more time behind the wheel of a car than you’d – and waiting in the car, whether for your kids, your husband, your carpool buddies, can feel a real time-suck. Time you could spend working out, for instance.

Well shift that gear into “park,” because there is a way to turn your wait time into a workout. Just follow these driver’s-seat strength drills.

Use this workout to get started in a fitness program or to augment your already active lifestyle.

Stow a tennis ball in the glove box for the full effect, but don’t worry if you don’t have one; these exercises can also be done without a ball using your body for resistance.

Easy in-car workout

Note: These moves are designed for a parked car. Don’t risk a ticket (or your life) by getting your fit on at a red light.

Adductor (inner thigh) exercise  

Position a tennis ball between your knees and give it a powerful squeeze with your inner thighs, holding a few seconds with each contraction. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions to start, working up to four sets over time.

Chest and shoulders exercise

With a tennis ball between the palms of your hands, interlace fingers over the top of the ball. Raise elbows out to the side in line with your chest. Begin pushing palms toward one another, then releasing. Feel the work in your chest and shoulders. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions to start, working up to four sets over time.

RELATED: 9 Ways to workout without the gym

Forearms exercise 

Strengthen your forearms to help with gardening, tennis, mountain biking, or anything that requires a strong grip. Wrap the fingers of one hand around your tennis ball and squeeze using maximum strength for one second, followed by one second of relaxation. Complete 15 repetitions on each side, aiming for two sets on with each arm.

Calves exercise

With both feet flat on the floor of the car, perform 20 heel raises with each leg. Alternate sides and complete two sets for each leg. To increase difficulty, position tennis ball under the ball of the foot and complete leg raises with a greater range of motion.

Core exercise

Sit up tall in the seat of your car, making a straight line from your tailbone to the crown of your head. Draw belly button towards the spine before engaging abdominal muscles. Focus on the lower abdomen, just below the naval and above the pubic bone. Hold engaged muscles for fifteen seconds, working up to one minute. Perform 2-4 sets.

Glutes (butt) exercise

Tone your tushy using a similar technique as you did with the core. Engage gluts while sitting tall in your car seat. Hold engaged muscles for fifteen second, working up to one minute. Perform 2-4 sets.

And finally, treat yourself to a well-deserved foot massage. Take off your shoes and position the ball under the sole of your foot. Roll the ball across the entire bottom of your foot, releasing the plantar tendon. Spend as much time as is required to feel fully relaxed.

RELATED: 10 Tricks to schedule exercise into your day

Laurie Lethert Kocanda is an ACE certified fitness professional and co-author of Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.