You know the benefits of exercise and you have most likely heard them a zillion times: a healthier heart, reduced risk for some cancers, better sleep patterns, weight loss, lower stress levels, stronger bones and muscles, less fear of falling, mental acuity, more energy and confidence.
Yet, according to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, only 3 out of 10 American adults get enough exercise. Quality of life can be improved by walking at a moderate pace 30 minutes a day. If walking hurts your joints, you can take your exercising to the water.
Outer thigh lift (abductors)
Targets buttocks, hips, outer thighs. Lying on your side with head, hips and shoulders in alignment, place legs a few inches in front of you, bottom leg slightly bent. Resting head on arm, contract abdominals to give support to the back; one hand on floor in front of your chest for added support. Slowly raise upper leg off floor, foot no higher than shoulder-height; knee facing forward. With control, lower leg to near floor, repeating 10-12 times; repeat with opposite leg.
Inner thigh lift (adductors)
Targets buttocks, hips, inner thighs. Beginning position same as above. Bend top leg, placing foot in front of extended straight leg. Contracting abdominals slowly, lift back leg a few inches off floor; pause and hold. Slowly return leg to near floor, repeating 10-12 times; repeat with opposite leg.
Russian twist (position 1)
Strengthens abdominals. Sitting on a mat, bend knees with heels touching floor, leaning back slightly with back straight. Holding hands together, extend arms in front of chest. Contract abdominals and slowly move arms from side to side in a twisting motion; 8-10 twists each side.
Russian twist (position 2)
Rotational stretch (not pictured)
Stretches lower back. Sitting tall on an armless chair, cross right leg over left leg, placing left elbow outside right knee. Contracting abdominals, turn and stretch to right side, keeping head upright. Hold stretch 8-10 seconds, repeating on opposite side; do not hold your breath.
• If you are 50 years and older and have not been exercising, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
We make excuses to make us feel less discomfort if we are committed to exercise and don't do it, Dan Kirschenbaum, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Medical School, said.
Exercise excuses -- and solutions
1. I don't have time
• Think of exercise as important as brushing your teeth or any other daily routine -- for best results, you need to be consistent.
• Include exercise times on your calendar as you would other appointments and reschedule when you miss.
• Don't forget in-home workouts, where you may be more flexible to fit short bursts of exercise into your day; exercise does not have to be a formal workout.
• Create movement. Put on some music and make up your own dance steps, walk an extra lap in the mall or grocery store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of drive whenever you can.
• Keep weights near the television, using them while watching some of your favorite shows and stretch during commercials.
2. I'm too tired.
• Remind yourself that both your mind and body need rejuvenation.
• Remember that short bursts of exercise count.
• Make a fun list of your favorite songs to listen to while exercising.
• Find the time of day when you would most enjoy exercising.
• Begin with a light and longer warm-up, as getting started is the hardest part.
3. I'm just not motivated.
• Remind yourself of the importance of exercise.
• Think about how great you will feel afterward.
• Work toward a goal -- and when you reach it, create another goal.
• Keep track of your progress to stay motivated.
• In the beginning, treat yourself with some kind of reward.
4. The gym is too expensive.
• Create your personal gym at home:
1. Set of weights, 3, 5 and 8 pounds, heavier weights as needed.
2. Comfortable mat for floor work.
3. Medicine ball, good for core work (begin with a 4- to 5-pound ball)
4. Exercise tubing for resistance training, particularly when traveling.
5. Do body-weight exercises that do not require equipment.
6. Although a little expensive, you eventually might want to invest in a bike attachment that will convert your regular bike into a stationary one, and a gym bench that is adjustable.