Easy Exercise

I’ve been one of those pain in the butt exercisers who comes to work Monday morning and when someone asks how my weekend was my reply: “great 40 mile bike ride, amazing 10 mile run, early morning swim and tight tennis match”.  This was not intended to be a brag because exercise is my wife and my entertainment actually enjoying the strenuous activities—the more miles the better.  We are fit and able to enjoy food and beer without expanding our waist lines.  But I can see where most of my co-workers and friends think our exercise is way too much work and think that if that’s what it takes to stay fit they’d rather put a stick in their eye and loosen their belt.

If you count yourself among the people who have given up on exercise because it seems like way too much work I’ve got good news for you in that it really doesn’t take that much effort and can actually be fun.  I’ll start with a disclaimer in that the only credentials I have is my experience and my “don’t hurt yourself” exercise program assumes that you are healthy and are at fighting weight and just looking for a reasonable way to stay in decent shape somewhere between Hercules and the Michelin Man.

Most hyper-exercisers including myself have forced periods of inactivity due to injuries from long periods of intense activity, often questionable technique, and the curse of an aging body.  The pain of injuries is often magnified by the symptoms of exercise withdrawal manifested by intense crabbiness and a paranoia of ballooning.  Most of these activity injuries are short term but as you get older the periods between injuries seems to shorten. I never got to the point of getting out of shape but the injury merry-go-round had taken some of the joy out of my runs.

I was recently recovering from a nagging back injury which seemed to never really heal and decided that I had to do something to keep me in shape without creating aches and pain.  One evening I pulled my iPod armband on, located satellites on my Garmin and started on a brisk 3 mile walk rocking to my 1960’s-70’s biased song shuffle. Now I’m not talking about a dawdling step above not moving walk but a 14-15 minute/mile borderline run trek.  I loved it and the combination of music, no back pain, and Lewis Black rants put a big smile on my face. I started a routine of after work fast walks, 4 days of 3 miles and a weekend 4 miler. In the past my main objection to walking had been the extra time it took to walk 3 miles rather than run but with the up-paced walking the difference in the time it takes is minimized.  In addition to the walking I do 15 minute morning weight-lifting, pelvic tilt partial sit-ups, planks, and balancing on one leg exercises three times a week (details below).  This has been my routine for the last couple months and it is actually enjoyable, doesn’t take a big slice out of my life, easy on my aging body, and most importantly has kept me fit without gaining any weight. I still eat my balanced food and drink diet of healthy and unhealthy without any apparent negative effects.

I think if you follow this “don’t hurt yourself” program you won’t be showing off your six pack stomach but will stay in decent shape with few injuries and a lot of enjoyment and self-esteem.  Just remember that staying in shape is about lifestyle and is actually about being a little selfish.  The lifestyle thing is just a little attitude adjustment in being active in everything not just walking, sit-ups, weights, and planks. Take the stairs, pick up the pace of your casual walks, swim some laps, go for a bike ride, and park way out in the mall parking lot.  The selfish thing is about staying fit to play with your grandkids. Revisit the joy of hide and seek, pitch and catch, walking on the beach, and avoid the theme park or zoo shuttle.  Obviously everyone is different so you may have to modify to keep in shape.  Keeping fit is not an elite thing but open to all—go for it!

My weight program:

1. Curlweight lifting curl

  1. 2 to 15 lb weights depending on your size and fitness
  2. Hold weights in each hand with arms at your side about 90 degrees to your body
  3. Curl up to chest
  4. Repeat 20 times
    (you may have to start with fewer)

 2. Liftweights-overhead lift

  1. 2 to 15 lb weights depending on your size and fitness
  2. Hold weights in each hand with arms against chest–wrists in, fingers over top of weights
  3. Lift straight up fully extending
  4. Repeat 20 times
    (you may have to start with fewer)

3. Side to frontweights-side to front

  1. 2 to 15 lb weights depending on your size and fitness
  2. Hold weights in each hand with arms fully extended close to 90 degrees to your sides
  3. Keep arms straight and bring weights 90 degrees to your front
  4. Repeat 20 times
    (you may have to start with fewer)

4. Modified sit-upsit-up

  1. Lay flat and pelvic tilt (tighten butt to flatten back)
  2. With hands behind head and knees lift up 6” off floor–hold for 5 seconds
  3. Repeat 20 times
    (you may have to start with fewer)

5. PlankExercise plank

  1. Arms bent supporting your body with straight back and legs up on toes
  2. Hold for 60 seconds.
    (Hold for less time if your shaking like a baby)

6. Side plankside plank

  1. Support your body on side with one bent arm body and legs straight one on top of the other
  2. Hold for 30 seconds.
    (Hold for less time if your shaking like a baby)
  3. Repeat on each side

7. Leg balanceOne legged balance

  1. Balance on one leg with other leg extended back and arms out to your sides
  2. Hold for 10 seconds
  3. Repeat on each leg 5 times

This improves your leg strength and balance. It also provided entertainment to my wife watching me continuously fall over before I mastered the exercise.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Easy Exercise

  1. Samantha Attard

    This is great, Swasey!! Every little bit of exercise helps, and I am glad you are recovering from your injury!

    Particularly love the yoga poses at the end : )

    Thanks for the great post,

    Sam

  2. maureen

    nice post, Tom.
    You have the discipline to undertake these exercises solo (or suffer derision from Judy). Others may find it easier to seek out one or several friends for motivation.
    I have to ask. Do you use 15# weights for deltoids? If so. I am VERY impressed. I am at 6# for that set and not ready to move up.
    Prone planks have gotten easier. Side planks are trickier but coming along.
    Bottom line – age need not deter us from fitness.

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