The holidays are upon us, and with the holiday season comes a busy calendar packed with shopping, wrapping, cooking, entertaining, and often hosting or traveling. And while the holidays usually mean extra calorie intake, fitting in exercise can be twice as difficult. Here, Dr. Marilyn Moffat shares easy exercises to fit in at home, at the office or even out shopping. Dr. Moffat is a professor of physical therapy at New York University and the co-author of “Age Defying Fitness: Making the Most of Your Body for the Rest of Your Life.” As with any exercise routine, consult your physical therapist or doctor before attempting any new physical activity.
Strength and Endurance
If you have access to stairs – at home, at work or at the shopping center – you can use them for conditioning. “For aerobic conditioning and strength, one of the best things you can do is walk up and down a flight of stairs,” Dr. Moffat explains. “Instead of just going up and stopping, go up down, up down, so you get a flight up and down three to five times.”
Prefer to take the elevator? Even that can be used for conditioning (assuming no one else is on board!). “If there’s a smooth wall in an elevator, you can do wall squats,” Dr. Moffat says. “Just be sure that when you slide down, your knees are either over or slightly behind your ankles so you’re not harming your knee joints. Your knees should be in a 90-by-90-degree position.”
Sitting at home or at your desk, fit in some additional strengthening. “Every time you stand up from the chair, instead of just standing up and walking away, keep your arms crossed on your chest and do 10 chair rises before you get moving,” she suggests.
If you have proper shoes and a non-slippery surface, you can also fit in endurance conditioning exercises throughout the day. “For endurance, try jogging in place during a commercial break on TV, or jogging 30 seconds while you prepare your meals,” Dr. Moffat says.
Balance, Flexibility and Posture
As you’re waiting for food to cook, the laundry to finish or those papers to print, try these balance exercises. “Balance on your toes, then lower to your heels and balance on your heels,” Dr. Moffat says. Another exercise involves balancing on one leg. “While you’re standing at the sink or the counter, stand on one leg with the other bent at the knee and the foot slightly off the floor. Rise up on the toes of one foot, and then do the other foot, five to 10 times each.”
For flexibility, if you’re watching TV or sitting at your desk at the office, stretch your neck. “Turn and look over one shoulder and then the other shoulder,” she explains. “Then bring your ear to your shoulder. That gets the lateral muscles on each side of your neck.”
Proper posture affects how you feel, and having the body properly aligned puts less wear and tear on joints and muscles. “For posture, while you’re brushing your teeth, tuck that stomach in, pull that chin back and in so that you’re beautifully extended,” Dr. Moffat advises.
You can also engage in a different type of window shopping. “When you’re walking down the street, look at yourself in shop windows,” she says. “If your head is so far forward of your body that if it fell off you’d kick it, you need to get it back and in so that it’s balanced over the rest of your body!”
Fitting in exercise can also help relieve stress, helping you stay happy and healthy straight through the New Year!