Moving into Winter

Exercise will reduce pain, improve function and mobility, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, decrease risk of chronic illness and death from heart disease and many forms of cancer, enhance mood and focus, and may even help reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19. Despite those compelling benefits, only 5% of us stick to an exercise regimen. With months of staying close to home base ahead, we asked national exercise expert Dr. Josh D’Angelo, PT, of MovementX to help us beat the odds and emerge from our winter cocoons fitter, stronger and more limber than before.

“Recent research has shown that even a little bit of exercise and movement is beneficial in improving your movement, health and life,” says Dr. D’Angelo. “We start with a focus on functional strength training exercises because it provides the best protection against future injury and helps with everything from mobility to balance. To maximize your gains, we encourage supplementing with 15-20 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking briskly, riding a stationary bike, dancing … or anything that gets you moving and you enjoy! And remember, every little bit of movement helps.”

Following are some ways to get started, from MovementX’s “AgeProof Your Body” program:

Work toward repeating three complete sets of these fundamental exercises: squats, pushups and abdominal strengthening for your core. Start with 5-8 repetitions each, and build weekly. Rest, repeat.

  • Squats. Focusing on lower body and core strength, this is one of the most functional  activities and will also get your heart rate going. Proper mechanics are important.
    • Stand up straight, feet shoulder width apart.
    • Slowly bend knees and drop your hips backward to sit in chair. Rise and repeat.
    • Pro Tip: Push energy down in your heels and into the midfoot – you should be  able to wiggle your toes, and you should not feel discomfort in your knees or  back.
    • Challenge yourself: Add load (dumbbells or household objects), vary your speed or increase the number of repetitions as your strength and endurance improve.
  • Special Squat Variations
    • Utilize the Supported Squat to work on controlling your full depth. Simply hold on to a stable object and slowly go all the way down
  • Pushups. Start with this beginner position and perform 5-8 repetitions until you can advance to a lower position and more reps.
    • Stand 18-24 inches away from a wall. Extend your arms and place your hands on the wall, shoulder width apart. Lean toward the wall, keeping your arms straight
    • Bend your elbows, allowing your body to come closer to the wall – let your chest lead, and keep your body straight.
    • Push away. You should feel this in your chest, shoulders and core.
  • Abdominals Series. Core strength is key to developing functional fitness that helps  prevent injuries, reduce back pain and make your daily activities easier to accomplish.
    • Setup: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet on floor, and arms by your sides.  Your lower back should not be arched at all during this exercise; push it down  into the floor to tighten abs.
    • Slowly bring knees up toward your chest as you bend your elbows to let your  hands meet your knees (at the edge of the thigh).
    • Push your hands into your thigh just where it meets your knee, pressing your  hands up and toward the ceiling. Continue to do this for 20 seconds. Make sure  to breathe! Work your way up to holding for 30 seconds.
    • If this is too difficult, try sitting in a chair or on a Swiss ball, or do it with one leg at a time.
  • Balance. Ensuring you have a stable stance when one foot is off the ground can reduce the likelihood of falls.
    • Stand on one leg with the other leg bent slightly off the ground. Keep hips level and stay balanced.
    • You’ll feel your core, glutes, inner thigh, calf and foot engaging to keep you balanced.
    • Work your way up to 30 seconds in this position.