What are the best exercises I can do at home?
In the final blog of the series on exercise in the active retired population I will look at simple effective exercises that you can perform at home which will enable you to stay fit, strong and healthy. As always it is important to state that any new undertaking as regards exercise needs to be preceded by a visit to your GP to ensure that you will not put yourself in any danger.
The bane of everyone’s life can actually be utilised as a tool to increase your cardiovascular fitness and the strength in four very import muscle groups. As regards fitness your stairs can be used as an aerobic workout if you walk up and down them at a steady pace for a set period of time. A good idea is to monitor your heart rate as in my previous blog to make sure that you are in a safe zone to get some aerobic benefit. If the thoughts of going up and down do not appeal to you or if you have safety concerns just work on the bottom step facing up the stairs and step up and down at a steady pace for 3-4 minutes, monitor your heart rate and repeat. You will be surprised at how taxing this simple exercise can be if done properly.
For strengthening you need to work in a more slow deliberate fashion and work to a set number of repetitions and repeat this a set number of times. For strengthening effect this is usually 8-12 repetitions and repeating this 3-4 times. You can work stepping up or stepping down, which is even more difficult. You can also try skipping a step on the way up to make it more demanding but this is not recommended on the way down as it is too dangerous. Always have your hand on the banister when doing any stairs based exercise.
B) A chair.
Many different strengthening exercises can be done using your standard chair. As for the strength work on the stairs you should aim to repeat each exercise 8-12 times, rest and repeat this 3-4 times. The most functional exercise you can do is to stand up from a seated position and lower yourself down slowly. Try not to use your arms and leg the hip, thigh and leg muscles do as much work as they can.
Another good exercise is to stand behind the chair on one leg with your hands on the back of it for support and to bend and straighten the leg you are standing on slowly.
The third exercise I would strongly recommend is the dip. Sitting on the chair place both hands on either side of the seat and with your feet firmly on the floor slide your bottom forwards off the seat. In this position bend and straighten your elbows slowly, taking as much of your body weight through your feet as you need. This is excellent to help build arm, chest and shoulder strength.
C) Milk cartons.
A simple empty plastic 1 or 2 litre milk carton is an amazing tool when it comes to a little external resistance to strengthen your arms or legs. They convert very nicely to dumbbells of any weight you require depending on how much you fill them. You can use them sitting in a chair to strengthen your arms or in standing to strengthen your legs. The amount of exercises you can do with them is limitless but I would advise that you book in with your chartered physiotherapist and get a programme of exercises that are suited to your needs and your body.
So you see there really need not be any expense involved in talking steps towards better health and you do not even have to leave the confines of your own home to do a productive workout. All you need is a little imagination and some professional advice and you could make a real difference to your own life.
I you would like further information please contact us in Sportsplus Physiotherapy on 067 42837 or via our website www.sportsplus.ie.