Updated April 30, 2008 – Here are seven simple exercises you can do at home, or even at your office, to get started.
1) Dancing. Dancing is an excellent cardiovascular exercise and it doesn't require a lot of work to do. Get your "Happy Feet" this year by putting on your favorite tunes, then move your feet, and swing those arms and hips. Keep moving for ten, twenty, even thirty minutes or more. Start with some basic moves, and after you feel that your body is warm, add larger movements like kicking or knee lifts to really boost your heart rate.
2) Lower Body Exercises. These exercises are simple to do and don't require fancy equipment. Just make some space, grab a chair, and let the lower body toning begin.
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3) Squats. Squats are an excellent exercise because they strengthen the front of your thighs, tone the back of the legs, and they firm your glutes, which gives your derriere its nice shape. Simply stand in front of any chair, preferably one that does not roll. Make sure your feet are about hip width apart, and keep your feet and heels in a nice straight line. Before you begin your downward descent, draw in your stomach, and slowly lower toward the chair with an evenly paced tempo. Lower yourself toward the chair while bringing your arms forward, but don't sit down. Come back into a standing position. Do a couple sets ten times and you'll have a smile on your front and backside.
4) Lunges. Lunges are another great exercise to tone and strengthen the muscles of your legs and glutes. You can stand in place and step forward, then lower the knee toward the floor. Remember to keep those heels straight and in line with the toe. You can reverse the move by stepping back with one leg and lower the knee toward the floor. And if you really want to get moving, why not do walking lunges right across the room.
5) Upper Body Exercises. If you're going to be showing those arms, these exercises are crucial.
Overhead arm extensions with a medium sized weight will take that wiggle off the back of the arm. If standing or seated, begin with the weight at the back of your head right in the center. Keeping the elbow lifted, slowly bring the weight up and then lower back to your starting point. You'll want to control the arm as it goes up and down to make certain the tricep is working as it lengthens and contracts. This exercise can also be performed on your back while holding two dumbbells, just be sure you keep those elbows high and unmoved. This will get the underside of your arms toned and tight. Good-bye flabby. Hello firm.
Side arm (lateral) lifts work your deltoid muscle and gives your shoulder its nice shape. Arms are great to tone and sculpt because you can incorporate a lot of simple moves for great results. Begin by lifting weights to the side. You can change these to frontal raises by bringing the arms out in front, and when you're really feeling the groove, alternate between side and front lifts. You're arms will be singing just like your favorite holiday tune.
Don't forget to tone your chest and back with a few pushups. You don't have to get on the floor to do them either. Just stand by a wall and extend your arms so that your entire palm is on it. Then bend your arms so that your elbows go away from the body and your chest goes toward the wall. Wanna kick it up a notch? Before beginning the exercise, take one step away from the wall for a little challenge. And, if you're feeling strong, go on and drop down to the floor and do a couple with knees bent or legs straight. You'll get up feeling ready to rock the world.
6. Stretch. The benefits of yoga date back for centuries, with yoga enthusiasts having long understood the importance of this practice. Now a hot trend, yoga classes are everywhere. If you've never tried yoga, you can do some basic stretches at home that will give you the same calming results. Try this first thing in the morning or after a long day. You'll love it.
From a standing position, take a few deep breaths. Relax your body and mind while focusing on your breath. Drawing in your stomach, take in a deep breath while bringing your arms out to the side and then overhead as if reaching for the stars. Be sure to relax your shoulders so that they are not hunched toward your ears.
Take another deep breath, then lower your arms out to the side while cascading downward with a slight bend in the knee, just like a swan diving down into a calm sea. Relax here. Look toward your knees and let your legs stretch. Place your palms on the front of your legs, then look forward and roll the shoulders back. This will lengthen your back and release any tension you may have stored there. Draw in a deep breath, then lower your hands back down toward your toes with your gaze toward your knees.
Take in another deep breath, reverse your swan dive with arms reaching overhead, then ever so slowly lower the arms and come back to your beginning standing position. Do this as often as you like to stretch your muscles, calm your mind, and come back to a place of serenity.
7. Abdominal/core exercises. There are so many ways to work your mid-section, but the following exercise is perfect for flattening your front.
Lying on your back, bend your legs with the soles of your feet on the floor. Now, lift your feet with calves parallel to the floor. Place your palms behind your head, then take your right elbow toward your left knee, and straighten your right leg parallel to the floor, toes pointed forward. Hold for a count of four. Now switch sides with left elbow toward right knee, holding again. Do that ten times. Feeling fancy? Vary the tempo. Hold for two, then do singles, or go back to a count of four, and you will feel your mid-section crunch and tighten. This bicycling maneuver has been proven as one of the best abdominal exercises.
Remember: always begin any exercise by drawing in your stomach. The benefits of the “draw in maneuver” cannot be over emphasized as this stabilizes the body, brings your core into alignment, and over time, helps to flatten the abdominals.
For more tips, visit Blackdoctor.org.