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- Most adults don’t get enough exercise, but getting in shape has an abundance of mental and physical health benefits.
- Walking can extend your life, prevent disease, and make you happier.
- In some ways, walking is the perfect exercise, as it’s accessible, easy, and free.
- By walking just 30 minutes a day, you can significantly transform your health.
There’s little that can transform your overall mental and physical health as much as exercise.
Working out regularly can extend your life, ward off heart disease and various cancers, rebuild the muscle and bone strength lost with age, and reduce levels of anxiety and depression.
Perhaps best of all, you can start to get all those benefits just by deciding to regularly go for a walk.
For many, getting started with fitness can be intimidating – weight training, interval sprints, and even certain bodyweight exercises might all seem a little too much if you aren’t familiar with where to begin. But people unsure about how they want to get started with fitness should take heart in a simple fact. Most research shows that doing just a little exercise is still vastly better than doing nothing.
Stepping outside and walking down the street – or through a park or along a trail – is enough to start transforming your health.
Recommended physical activity guidelines call for healthy adults to do a minimum of two and half hours of moderate-intensity activity – or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity – plus at least two muscle-strengthening days a week.
Walking doesn’t get you all the way there, as it doesn’t include strength training. But even meeting the moderate activity guidelines with a regular walking habit can do a lot.
According to one large study of older adults published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine that looked at 62,178 men and 77,077 women, people who walk at least 150 minutes per week were about 20% less likely to die than inactive adults during the 13-year study period.
“Walking has been described as the ‘perfect exercise’ because it is a simple action that is free, convenient, does not require any special equipment or training, and can be done at any age,” the authors wrote in their conclusion.
It is worth trying to keep up a decent pace, however. Another study of more than 50,000 adults in the UK found that people who walked regularly at an average or quick pace were about 20% less likely to die – and 24% less likely to die from heart disease – when compared to slow walkers.© Maskot/DigitalVision/GettyWalking can improve your mental health and help fight depression
While life extension and disease reduction are important, those aren’t the only reasons to go for a walk. Smaller studies have shown that even a 30-minute walk on a treadmill is enough to lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive disorder.
A recent study from researchers at Harvard University and other institutions found that three hours of exercise a week, no matter the type of activity, could decrease the risks of depression. The risk decreased an additional 17% with each added 30 or so minutes of daily activity.
None of this is to say you shouldn’t eventually start incorporating strength training and other forms of exercise into your routine – there are reasons why those exercises are included in fitness guidelines. But if you just wanted to get started in a simple way, know that going for a walk can be more powerful than it seems.
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This exercise works your core, as well as your chest, shoulders, lats, triceps, and quads, explains Michaels. Since burpees involve explosive plyometric movement, they’ll get your heart pumping too.
How to do burpees: Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart and send your hips back as you lower your body toward the ground in a low squat. Then, place your hands right outside of your feet and hop your feet back, allowing your chest to touch the floor. Push your hands against the floor to lift your body up into a plank and then jump your feet just outside of your hands. With your weight in your heels, jump explosively into the air with your arms overhead.
2) Mountain Climbers
Like burpees, Michaels is a fan of this moving plank exercise because it works your core, in addition to a slew of other body muscles.
How to do mountain climbers: Get into a high-plank position with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Keep your core tight, drawing your belly button in toward your spine. Drive your right knee toward your chest and then bring it back to plank. Then, drive your left knee toward your chest and bring it back. Continue to alternate sides.
3) Turkish Get-Up
The Turkish-getup is a 200-year-old total-body exercise that involves using a kettlebell, and it’s a favorite of celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza. While it is slightly complicated, she says that the total-body conditioning move is seriously effective for blasting belly fat.
How to do a Turkish get-up: Holding one kettlebell by the handle with both hands, lie on your side in a fetal position. Roll onto your back and press the kettlebell up toward the ceiling with both hands until the weight is stable on one loaded side. Release your free arm and free leg to a 45-degree angle with your palm facing down. Slide the heel of the loaded side closer to your butt to firmly grip the floor.
Pushing through the foot on the floor, punch the kettlebell up with the loaded arm and roll onto your free forearm. Don’t shrug your shoulder toward your ear with the supporting side. Be sure to keep your chest wide open. Straighten the elbow on the ground and lift yourself up to a seated position. Weave your front leg through to the back. To protect your knees, your shin on the back leg should be perpendicular to your shin on the front leg.
Perfectly align your arms: wrist over the elbow, shoulder over elbow over the wrist. Raise your torso to make your upper body erect. Swivel your back knee so that your back shin is parallel with your front shin. Get a grip on the floor with your back toes, then take a deep breath, and stand up.
5/17 SLIDES © pixdeluxe – Getty Images
4) Medicine Ball Burpees
Phelps suggests adding a medicine ball to your burpee to increase the intensity of the exercise and boost your metabolism—all while building a sleek set of six-pack abs.
How to do medicine ball burpees: Standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart, hold a medicine ball with both hands. Extend the ball up overhead, then slam the ball down on the ground as hard as you can, hinging over and sitting your butt back as you slam. As you hinge over, bend your knees. Place your hands on the ground outside of your feet and jump back into a high plank position. Keep your body in a straight line. Then, jump your feet back towards the outsides of your hands so that you are squatting. Pick up the ball and press it overhead, extending your body and standing tall.
The sprawl is basically a burpee on steroids—a full body exercise that works as many muscles as possible and burns calories while shaping and toning upper- and lower-body, especially your abs. “It takes the traditional burpee to the next level by having you touch your chest to the ground, then push-up to plank as you continue the move,” explains Braganza.
How to do a sprawl: Standing with your feet shoulder-distance apart, squat down, and place your hands on the ground. Jump your feet back to a plank and lower your body to touch the ground. Push yourself up to a plank and then jump your feet outside of your hands into a squat. Stand back up. That’s one rep. “If you want to burn even more calories, add a jump between each sprawl,” Braganza adds.
6) Side-to-Side Medicine Ball Slams
“Medicine ball slams are a dynamic, explosive, and highly metabolic exercise that does not simply target one muscle group,” explains Chris DiVecchio, trainer and founder of Premier Body & Mind. On the surface, the obliques, hamstrings, quads, biceps, and shoulders are the primary movers of this exercise. “But as time goes on and fatigue sets in, nearly every other muscle in the body, in one way or another, may become involved as a secondary mover which makes this a total gut blaster,” he adds. Doing side-to-side ball slams versus overhead slams incorporates more oblique ab work.
How to do lateral medicine ball slams: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart with the medicine ball on one side. Pick up the ball and simply rotate your body as you slam the ball a few inches away from your pinky toe. Make sure to pivot your feet and bend the back knee as you come into a split squat position to catch the ball on one bounce. Alternate sides. Make sure you tighten your core as you bring the ball overhead and to the side.
7) Overhead Medicine Ball Slams
Overhead medicine ball slams strengthen your core as it works against gravity. This exercise also tests your endurance, getting your heart rate up each time you pick the ball up and bring it overhead. To get the most out of this exercise, be sure to use a heavy weighted ball.
How to do overhead medicine ball slams: Standing tall with your feet hip-width apart, hold a medicine ball with both hands. Reach both arms overhead, fully extending your body. Slam the ball forward and down toward the ground. Extend your arms toward the ground as you slam and don’t be afraid to bend your knees as you hinge over. Squat to pick the ball up and then stand back up.
8) Russian Twists
The Russian twist is a core exercise that improves oblique strength and definition, explains DiVecchio. The move, typically performed with a medicine ball or plate, involves rotating your torso from side to side while holding a sit-up position with your feet off the ground.
How to do Russian twists: Sit up tall on the floor with your knees bent and feet off the ground. Hold a medicine ball with your hands at chest height. Lean backward with a long, tall spine, holding your torso at a 45-degree angle and keeping your arms a few inches away from your chest. From here, turn your torso to the right, pause and squeeze your right oblique muscles, then turn your torso to the left and pause to squeeze your left oblique muscles. The movement should come from your ribs and not your arms.
9) BOSU Ball Planks
You know that your cardio sessions are crucial when it comes to burning the layer of fat sitting on top of your abdominal muscles. But it’s still important to work those abs even as you’re trying to shed fat, says New York City-based personal trainer Adam Sanford, founder of Adam Sanford Fitness. His favorite move to do that? Holding plank on a BOSU ball.
It’s more challenging than a normal plank where your hands are on the floor, because the BOSU tests your balance, says Sanford. “When your body tries to find control as your balance is challenged, your abs, obliques, and deep transverse abdominal muscles are activated,” he says. Strengthening these core muscles also helps increase your metabolism, ultimately helping you to burn more calories and fat.
How to do BOSU ball planks: Flip a BOSU ball on its rubber side and hold onto the edges of the flat surface with both hands, about shoulder-distance apart. Hold the plank for 30 to 45 seconds, increasing the time as you get stronger.
11/17 SLIDES © Sumetee Theesungnern / EyeEm – Getty Images
10) Running On an Incline
Running at an incline rather than on a flat surface has been shown to increase total calorie burn by as much as 50 percent, says Jill Penfold, a Los Angeles-based personal trainer. Whether you’re outside on a hill or at the gym on an inclined treadmill, start out walking for five to 10 minutes, suggests Penfold. “Your heart rate should elevate pretty quickly as you pick up your pace,” she says.
Try this treadmill workout: Walk or jog on an incline for five to 10 minutes. Maintain a jog for another five to 10 minutes, then pick your pace up again and start running. “This doesn’t have to be an all-out sprint,” says Penfold, but you should be working hard enough that you can’t carry a conversation. Spend five minutes running, then drop your pace back down to a jog. Continue alternating with five to 10 minutes of jogging and five to 10 minutes of running for 30 to 45 minutes.
11) Rowing Machine
Just because you may not have access to open water, it doesn’t mean you can’t weave this fat-blasting cardio workout into your gym routine. Not only does using a rowing machine get your heart rate way up, which helps you blast calories and burn fat, but it also works muscles in your legs, core, arms, shoulders, and back, says Penfold.
Try this 4-minute rowing circuit: Begin with 20 seconds of rowing followed by 10 seconds of rest. Look at how many meters you traveled in that time. (Don’t get off the rowing machine or even let go of the handle when you rest, says Penfold.) Repeat this eight times, trying to beat your distance each time. When you’re finished with this four-minute circuit, row a fast 500 meters and note how long it takes you. “That’s the number you’ll want to match or beat during your next rowing session,” says Penfold.
If you’ve been lifting moderately heavy weights but are still looking to drop belly fat, it’s time to pick up the intensity by using heavier weights and cutting down on rest time between reps, says Tyler Spraul, CSCS, a certified strength, and conditioning specialist and the head trainer at Exercise.com. “Lifting heavy is where you see more an afterburn effect. Your body continues to burn calories even after you leave the gym,” Spraul says. Just be sure that your technique doesn’t suffer as you increase your weight, which can lead to injury. If you’re new to strength training, this 15-minute total-body workout is a great place to start.
Yes, you read that right. Simply walking can go a long way toward helping you shed belly fat, says Sahmura Gonzalez, a personal trainer based in New York City.
“It seems so simple, but 45 to 60 minutes of brisk walking every day can do wonders for your metabolism,” says Gonzalez. “Plus, it ensures that you don’t over-train, which can lead to an over-production of cortisol—a stress hormone that’s been shown to contribute to belly fat.”
If your walking workout helps you unwind after a stressful day or work through emotions that might otherwise stress you out, there’s a chance it’ll help you lower cortisol levels, which in turn can keep belly fat in check, says Gonzalez. And brisk walking is an effective way to drop pounds—including the belly fat that’s hiding your abdominal muscles. “One hour of rapid walking a day can lead to one pound of fat loss a week,” says Gonzalez.
Getting your Om on won’t burn as many calories as a hilly run or lifting weights, but it can help build muscle and improve your endurance, which is all crucial for boosting your metabolism. Some of the highest calorie-blasting yoga poses include plank, chair, Chaturanga, and wheel. New to yoga and aren’t sure where to start? Learn more about the different types of yoga to help you find the best practice that fits your workout goals.
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Most Americans are under orders to stay at home. Though they are allowed to go out just to exercise, gyms and other facilities where people can work out are closed. That should not discourage people who want to stay or get in shape because, as research has found, walking is often just as beneficial a workout.
It’s easy to forget that walking is actually an aerobic activity. After all, about 7 billion people do it every day. It’s low-impact, simple, natural, accessible, and has many health benefits.
A study from the University of Utah showed that the body may actually be made to walk. Walking is physically easier on the body, but the body still requires to take in more oxygen than in sedentary mode, providing the same benefits as running.
Not even a third of American adults exercise on a regular basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just about 23% meet the federal guidelines for aerobic activity and strength training. But people in some places are less active than others — these are the 50 laziest cities in America.
The rule of thumb is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week, according to the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Breaking the numbers down, that’s 30 minutes five days a week. This sounds like a small price to pay if you want to significantly improve both your physical and mental health.
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Thank you for reading 🙂
Thank you for reading 🙂
Let’s start with one of the most popular exercises…
1. The Crunch
Crunches are done by curling the spine inward in a face-up position on the floor.
This creates a contraction of the rectus abdominis—the front part of the midsection musculature. That’s where the good news ends.
The bad news involves poor technique.
People have a tendency to excessively tuck their chins inward on the crunch and arch their lower backs on the descent.
One problem leads to lower back pain while the other leads to neck pain.
Together, they create postural distortions.
Now let’s look at the first cousin of the crunch—the sit-up. This exercise is often performed with the fingers interlaced behind the head.
That alone puts you in threat because you can easily pull your head forward as you perform the movement.
Instead of curling the torso inward, you sit all the way up with your back completely off the ground.
Errors often occur by pulling the head down and rounding the back as well as arching the back at the bottom of the movement.
Momentum is then created, which leads to the hip flexors taking over.
You end up not working your abs at all, but creating more of a muscle imbalance and possibly pain.
3. Weighted side bends
If you leaf through any old bodybuilding book, you will likely see a muscular man doing an exercise called a side bend.
You perform this drill by holding a dumbbell at your side with your arm fully extended, then bending laterally to that side.
You then bend back upright by engaging the obliques on the opposite side of your body.
It sounds pretty cool right? It is cool…If you like the appearance of love handles on your sides.
Side bends involve a short range of motion, which enables you to use pretty heavy weights.
This makes your obliques bulk up and stick out.
If you are trying to lose your love handles, this is not the exercise to do. And the slightest wrong move can tweak your back.
There are much better exercises to do than crunches, sit-ups and side bends when it comes to your abs.
Focus your attention on more functional movements and cross-body patterns. These recruit your entire abdominal wall.
Opt for exercises like:
- bicycle crunches
- contralateral limb raises
- mountain climbers
- alternating t-stands and
- lateral plank walks.
- side plank rotations (above)
And remember, crunches and sit-ups are not the enemy. They are effective as long as you use proper form.
Keep these pointers in mind at all times:
- Always move through a full range of motion.
- Never use momentum.
- Never pull your head forward
- Focus on using your abs to do all the work
- Place your hands on the side of your head by your ears
You now have enough information to spare your spine from discomfort and strengthen your abs with confidence. All you have left to do is practice.
Yours in Health,
Thank you for reading 🙂
Thank you for reading 🙂