Many who strive to lead a healthy life focus too much on their diet. The saying goes, you are what you eat but detox diets, vegan, vegetarian, soup, carbs only, proteins only, fruits only, etc are only half the equation. The other missing half is exercising of course and is ever more important now that we lead a sedentary lifestyle compared to the past. When was the last time you walked to the shop and carried your shopping back home using your arms instead of driving there and back? Here are some exercises for a starter. What is so special about them? Nothing, and that’s exactly why they are good: anyone can do them. No fancy equipment or gym membership are required. In fact, for people who shun the gym for one reason or another, these resistance exercises should be an excellent alternative.
If you don’t know how to swim, here is a great opportunity and motivation to learn. Swimming is a great form of soft resistance training as you fight the water. It also works your cardio-vascular system, meaning you’ll be able to run after the bus or climb the stairs without getting out of breath. Unlike running or even cycling, swimming doesn’t place any stress on your joints. So if you have been running for a while, swimming is a great alternative and preparation if you will visit the beach later. It also helps you tone your upper body, especially your shoulders, while running does nothing of the sort. But don’t worry, it will take you much more than a few weeks or months of swimming to end up with wide shoulders like the Olympic swimmers.
Lunges are a great exercise that gives a good stretch to your leg muscles. In the beginning, you might find this new stretching movement rather hard, so start easy. As your body gets used to it and you see improvement, you can hold some weight in your hand to make it more difficult, move the exercises towards the end of your session when you feel more tired or perform it with the leading leg on a Bosu ball, which is a hemisphere. This version is pretty tough and if you are already tired, it will take all your concentration to maintain your balance. But the rewards are greater. You can also vary it by using a Swiss ball under your rear leg. Bosu balls and Swiss balls are great accessories to vary your training and make them harder without having to use weights.
Squats are often associated with bodybuilders with thick legs but you don’t need to work out as heavy as them. Try the one-leg squat where you lightly touch a wall or pole for stability and stretch one leg in front of you without letting it touch the floor. This will also work your abs; a two-in-one exercise. If you find this too hard, you can use your hand to pull you up a little, thus reducing the load on your one leg. Some brave souls even do squats on a Bosu and Swiss balls.
You can also try static squats. Beware, this can become very hard, depending on how much you push yourself. Simply squat against a wall with a Swiss ball between you and the wall and hold this position for a few seconds to a minute or more. Repeat for a few sets and stretch your legs in between to remove the build-up of lactic acid in your quadriceps. Don’t go all out in the first set.
Finally, running is a great way to add some shape to your legs and improve your cardiovascular system throughout. Outdoor running is much tougher than on the treadmill, so if you are up to a challenge, don’t shy away from it. The varied terrain and weather conditions not only add extra pressure to your body to cope with them but as a result of all these small changes in the background conditions, your run will feel much less boring than indoors on a treadmill.
Dumbells instead of machines
If you’ve been visiting the gym for a while now and your training is starting to go stale, you need to make some changes. Too many people in gyms see the fancy expensive and shiny machines and go straight to them. But the good old barbell and dumbbell still have their place. Try replacing all machine movements for a while with dumbbells. The added advantage of dumbbells is that you need to recruit secondary muscles to balance them, so you work out harder.