MHLbannersmallWhen you just don't want to go out
Compared to the winter wonderlands and accompanying wind chill factors that periodically move in to other parts of the country – Minneapolis, Chicago and Fargo come quickly to mind – we have it pretty easy here in the Tidewater area. When we do have those days this winter when you want to put a roof over your normal outdoor exercise activities we are fortunate to have places like the Riverside Wellness & Fitness Centers and other well-equipped indoor venues.

There are, however, those times when you just don't want to go out. You know you need to get in some physical activity, but the idea of leaving the comforts of home just doesn't sound appealing. That's when the simple and easy exercise ideas described below can come in handy:

Hit the Floor
Young children are frequently up and down, from crawling or sitting on the floor to an upright position, then back again … and again. As we get older some of the agility as well as our proportional weight-to-strength capabilities start to diminish. Getting down on the floor and then standing up again several times will help you keep that ability longer. So take every opportunity you see, from a close examination of your carpet to playing with children or pets (or for no reason at all) to get on the floor. You'll improve your strength, balance and self-confidence every time you get back up.

Get Down With the Cats and the Cowscat_and_cow
Here's something else to do while you're down on the floor – two beneficial yoga poses that are often and easily paired together.

The first is the Cow:

  • Begin on your hands and knees.
  • Shoulders should be directly over the wrists, and hips directly over the knees.
  • Curl your toes under to stretch your foot arches.
  • Inhale and slowly arch your back, lifting the chest up and away from the belly and extending your tailbone toward the ceiling.

Now the Cat:

  • Release your feet to a neutral position (uncurled) so the tops are resting on the floor.
  • As you exhale, round your lower back (like a cat) as you gently contract your belly.
  • Repeat six times and make a point to slightly increase your range of motion with each repetition.

This combination of yoga stretches is safe, easy to do and will help strengthen and stretch your lower back as well as your hips. For more information and a helpful visual for the Cow, click here.You'll find the Cat here.

Lift That Bottle
No, not that one. We're talking about water bottles. Weight training is excellent for building strength and cardiovascular fitness and it also helps prevent osteoporosis. If you're at home and don't have traditional weights make your own by filling up water bottles. If using water bottles becomes too easy, use milk jugs. You can customize your workout by filling the jugs to the exact weight that you need. Over time you can increase the water amount and weight.

And when you're done, be sure to drink the water for an added health bonus. You can't do that with regular weights!

Work out with a Virtual Friend
There are a lot of workout and yoga routines that are available on DVDs which you can buy or check out for free at the library. You should also check out the wide range of exercises on YouTube. You can search "workout" or you can search by the specific type of workout that you would like. Because these resources offer built in instruction they can also teach you the correct form and position or proper alignment for the activity you're following. And because there are so many available you can mix up what you are doing to keep it fresh.socks

The Sock Hop
One thing that is often negatively affected as we get older is our balance. A good exercise to help improve balance and take care of a practical necessity at the same time is to make a habit of putting your socks on while standing up and without holding onto anything. This may seem difficult at first, but with a little practice, you'll find that your leg strength and your balance both improve. Be sure to enjoy this stork-like activity in the morning and then reverse the process at the end of the day.