I was discussing mini health rituals with some of our instructors recently and we came up with a fabulous list of little multi-tasking exercises to boost balance, strength and flexibility.
For instance I always stand on one leg while I brush my teeth. It challenges my balance, especially if I do it on tiptoe or with my eyes closed (or both!). Also, every evening when I put body lotion on my legs, I rest my leg on the side of the bath and keep it straight so that I’m stretching my hamstrings whilst moisturising. Simple little things that have become a habit. They take no extra time and benefit me greatly.
I'm sure you have your own rituals but, if not, here are some suggestions.
While the kettle boils
My all-time favourite is the Ws. It’s one of those brilliant exercises that strengthens the mid-back area and opens the chest. Here’s what to do:
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, back straight, tummy engaged and shoulders down.
- Form a ‘W’ shape with your arms, elbows bent and hands about head height, palms facing forwards.
- Squeeze your elbows down and behind you. You should feel the bottom of your shoulder blades getting closer together and your chest opening.
- Repeat 12 times.
While cleaning your teeth
As I’ve mentioned already, standing on one leg is nice and straightforward plus you’ve the basin there to grab hold of if you lose your balance. My husband does hamstring stretches with his foot on the side of the bath and I know that several of you do backwards and sideways lunges. Come along to one of Rachael’s or my Nordic walking workout classes if you want tips on how to do lunges properly. We run them on Monday 9.30am, Friday 8am and Saturday 9am.
While on the phone
Walking whilst talking on the phone is obvious plus research suggests that you talk more confidently (and more succinctly) if standing up. Latterly though I’ve taken to doing chest stretches whilst on the phone. It’s so easy and most of us benefit from these as nearly everyone is tight across the chest. All you need to do is
- Stand in a doorway, phone in one hand (I’m assuming it’s cordless) with the other arm bent at the elbow resting your palm and inside of your forearm on the frame.
- Gently press your chest forwards into the open space to feel the stretch.
- Moving your arm higher or lower will allow you to stretch different sections of your chest.
- Switch your phone to the other hand and repeat on the other side.
While watching TV
Treat yourself to a foot massage whilst watching TV. You can use a tennis ball but the very best is a spikey massage ball like the one in the picture (available from Amazon). Just pop the ball under your foot roll it around, forwards and backwards, side to side, and in circles and don’t forget to include the edges of your heels. Bliss. Plus it helps loosen up any tightness in your foot which is great for us walkers.
When queuing (and filling the car with petrol)
I know this isn’t at-home but I’m bunging it in here because it’s such a missed opportunity if you don’t double-up with a cheeky exercise when standing in a queue or putting petrol in your car. It’s your pelvic floor exercises. Important for both men and women the pelvic floor is the sling of muscles which stretch like a hammock from your tailbone at the back to your pubic bone at the front. They help support your bladder and bowel plus womb in women. Amongst other things a strong pelvic floor enables you to sneeze and cough with impunity.
We should all be doing these every day – and given that we probably stand in a queue at some point each day it’s the perfect opportunity. If you don’t know how to exercise them here’s two great websites:
So you need never again idle away your time whilst the kettle boils or feel frustrated not to be getting on with things when on the phone. You have a perfect set of exercises!