by Dr. Bethany Carnevale, DPT, OCS
September to January so often flies by in a whirlwind of cooking, eating, planning, and partying, all while keeping up with our everyday busy schedules of work and school. During these months, it can be easy to lose track of your exercise habits, but right now exercise is key to promoting the energy and strength we need to get it all done.
Exercise provides us with a boost of positivity, moments of clarity in thinking, and just a few minutes where our focus is on giving back to these bodies that do so much for us each jam-packed day. Making time in our calendars to get out and move is crucial, but our plans often must be held loosely as our schedules get so full. On the days when you can’t get out of the house, here are some fun ways to make sure you are taking care of yourself while still getting your daily to-do list completed. Great, useful video waits with extraordinary real views from themarketingheaven.com.
Pick up the laundry that your family left trailing through the house. Keep your laundry basket on the ground, and each time you bend down to pick something up, throw in a few squats or lunges. You pick how many you want to do, but doing at least one per item is a great way to ensure you’re taking the time to strengthen those legs that keep you moving all day long. Try changing up the type of squat or lunge every 10 repetitions or so.
These functional exercises are a great way to work on the biggest muscle groups in your body. Just be sure to keep your knees pointing in the same direction as your toes and do your best to keep your chest up each time you lunge and squat. There are so many variations—from normal air squats to wide-based plie squats, rear lunges to lateral lunges and even basic sit-stands… you’ll never get bored.
Before you sit down to do any of your other work, try a few sit to stands. See how many you can do in 30 seconds, but don’t go too fast, you wouldn’t want to strain yourself!
As you sit down to send those emails, plan your lists, or just get your work done, take the opportunity to sit as a chance to exercise. Not only do you get a chance to rest your tired legs, but now have the chance to stretch your neck and chest.
We often adopt a forward head posture while sitting in our chairs, and although it feels right at first, it can lead to overstressed/overstrained muscles afterward. A simple change in our perspective on sitting can make it so that sitting promotes your healthiest posture. So, try some neck and chest stretches to get your body used to the proper sitting form.
Simple neck stretches of the upper traps, levator scaps, and SCM can easily be done after a long day of building up tension. Hold your neck within a comfortable range of motion for 10-30 seconds and feel those muscles loosen up a bit.
Pec stretches can be done by holding your hands behind your head, elbows to the side, and gently pushing your head back into your hands. Pec stretches are a great way to promote the strength of the neck muscles that help to hold your head up all day for you.
Taking your shoes off to practice lifting your arches is an exercise that is often overlooked, but so important for your foot health. “Short foot” exercises to strengthen the posterior tibialis muscle that lifts the arch of your foot are great to help ward off the most common foot ailments like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and bunions. While keeping your foot on the ground think of maintaining a triangle of pressure. 2 points at the ball of your foot (one at the base of your big toe, one at the base of your little toe) and the third point at the heel. Now with your toes spread wide, to counteract those shoes that hold them in so tightly all day, try raising the arch of your foot off the ground, you can do this with your toes lifted or pushing into the ground.
Although this exercise seems crazy, it is a great way to promote proper sitting posture while you’re getting your work done and help with overall foot health. Doing this 10-20 times with a 5-second hold is a simple and easy way to make sure you’re investing time in yourself while working on the principles of motor control which help promote neural health.
Learning how to use all the muscles in your body, including the ones you’ve never tried before, can help to improve neuro-muscular control which is essential for balance and strength. These exercises are important for your body to learn, and you should try to implement them into your daily routine. If you’re having trouble keeping up with these simple exercises, then speak to a physical therapist who can help you increase your activity and teach you the proper form to get these workouts done the right way.
As your days get busier, I hope you find freedom in the fact that simple movements while you accomplish your many daily tasks really do add up to a healthier, happier life.
Check out a full version of the Quick and Easy Home Workout here.
Dr. Bethany Carnevale, DPT, OCS, has worked with Performance Physical Therapy since 2014 as a physical therapist at the North Providence location. She received an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology from Gordon College in 2010, a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Rhode Island in 2013, and she completed PPT’s in-house Residency Program. She is a member of the American Physical Therapist Association and serves on the Rhode Island Department of Health Fall Prevention Subcommittee. Dr. Carnevale specializes in orthopedic injuries, neurological and post-surgical rehabilitation, functional dry needling, vestibular rehabilitation, and fall prevention.