Gentle exercises you can do at home
Author: Staff Writer
Stretch towards your wellbeing
In some cases, it’s just impossible for you to get the recommended amount of exercise you need a week. You’re simply unable to do the 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of intense activity, be it due to an injury, chronic disease, or a constant struggle to get to the gym.
Whatever your reason, it’s no longer an excuse to live a completely sedentary lifestyle.
A simple way to boost physical fitness in the comfort of your own home
One of the most important reasons exercise comes highly recommended is that it has incredible benefits for your heart health. The more exercise you do, the fitter you become, and the less pressure there is on your heart muscle to pump blood around your body. This is known as cardiovascular fitness.
A study published in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation shows there’s a much easier way to this type of fitness than pounding the pavement or sweating it out at the gym.
Researchers in Japan analysed a group of sedentary men in their early 20s to find out if something as easy as stretching every day could have the same impact on your health as physical cardio exercises do.
During a 40-minute stretching session, they measured the changes in arterial stiffness in their participants. Arterial stiffness is one of the greatest risk factors for heart disease, and lowering it involves an increase in cardiovascular fitness.
The study found that static stretching, which involves slow muscles stretches in positions held for several seconds, lowered blood pressure and improved cardiovascular fitness in relatively sedentary young men.
And the more stretching you do, the better for your health and fitness levels.
Stretches you can add to your daily routine
Before you begin any new routine, speak to your doctor about your pre-existing medical conditions to ensure that these stretches are safe for you to carry out.
Try to do your stretching exercises at the end of the day when the muscles are warm. If you’re only able to do them in the morning, don’t stretch further than is comfortable, and always stop when you feel pain or discomfort.
1. Knee to chest stretch.
Lie on your back on the floor or another firm surface with your legs stretched out. Raise one bent knee and gently pull the knee towards your chest with your hands placed over the knee and shin. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before you lower your leg to the ground and repeat on the other leg. Perform three repetitions on each leg. Remember to breathe deeply throughout the stretch.
2. Hamstring stretch.
Remain on the floor on your back with your legs straightened out. Keep your shoulders, back, and hips on the floor as you raise your right leg towards the ceiling. Keep it as straight as possible, but if you can’t, leave a slight bend in your knee. Hold your leg in the air for 30 seconds as you feel the stretch in your hamstring at the back of your thigh. Release your leg to the ground, and repeat on the other side. Do three repetitions on each side.
3. Seated forward fold.
Another stretch that’s great for the hamstrings is the forward fold. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. Place your hands on your legs at a position that requires your arms to be straight. Take a deep breath and slide your hands down the length of your legs, bending at the hips instead of simply rounding your back. As you breathe out, push slightly further into the fold until your each an angle that’s comfortable to hold. Hold for 30 seconds before you return to the starting position. Repeat 3-6 times.
4. Hip flexor stretch.
Move onto your knees, and place a soft mat or folded towel under your left knee. Place your right foot flat on the group so that your thigh is perpendicular to the floor and your knee is bent at 90 degrees. Push your hips forward and you should feel the stretch in your right hip. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before switching over to the other leg. Perform three repetitions on either side.
5. Quad stretch.
Stand near a sturdy chair or table, and hold onto it with one hand. With your left foot planted firmly on the floor, raise your right foot backwards and grasp it with your right hand. Gently pull your foot towards your buttock to feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds before repeating the stretch on your left leg. Repeat three times on each leg. Remember to stand up tall without bending your back throughout.
You’ll notice these stretches are easy to do anywhere and at any time. Fit them into your day whenever possible as this routine should only take about 15 minutes. The stronger you get, the more time you can hold the stretch, and the more repetitions you can do. Instead of dreading the gym or being sedentary because you’re unable to exercise, do these simple stretches that may have a significant impact on your health.