Workout of the Week: Made to Move

November 14, 2014 11:00 am Last Updated: November 14, 2014 6:18 am

Our bodies were designed to move. We have muscles for strength, joints for mobility, and bones for structure. I strongly doubt that we were ever intended to sit for lengthy periods of time.

Yet, so many of us spend vast amounts of time in a sedentary lifestyle. Does this sound like you?

Sometimes we get so accustomed to not moving on a regular basis that putting our bodies in motion can seem like a real chore.

Most people want to be healthy. But if you are stuck in a rut of no movement—other than feeding yourself and getting to and from work in car—taking steps to a healthier lifestyle may seem too hard.

Here are two simple tips to make it easier: Do something you enjoy. Don’t over do it!

Moving your body on a daily basis—whether it be through gardening, walking, swimming, or dancing—can help you increase your energy levels, regulate your metabolism, boost the release of endorphins, decrease the levels of stress hormones, and keep your heart healthy.

That body of yours was made to move, so don’t deny it anymore. Stand up and try this weekly workout. It is designed to stretch and strengthen your entire body.

Windmill

1. Start with your feet placed 1 foot wider than your shoulders.

2. Stretch your arms straight out to the sides, reaching as far as you can.

3. From your waist, slide your body across to the right.

4. Tip your body down so your right hand rests on your right leg—above or below the knee, depending on your mobility.

5. Keep your left hand reaching straight to the sky.

6. Reach your left hand back, toward your right hand, in a motion that creates rotation in your torso.

Repeat this set 6 times on your right. Then reset and repeat on the left side.

Keep your legs taut throughout the movement and your feet pressing firmly into the floor to keep your lower body strong.

This exercise will stretch your legs and the sides of your body. It will also engage the stomach muscles as you rotate. Keep your abdominals pulled in to help engage your muscles.

Static Squat

1. Stand with your feet, knees, and thighs as close together as possible. Squeeze the muscles of your thighs against each other.

2. Bend your knees and lower your hips to the floor as low as possible.

3. Reach your hands above your head, pressing your palms against each other to engage the muscles of your arms.

4. Hold the squat pose for 30–60 seconds. Work up to a hold of 2 minutes.

This squat pose will build muscular endurance in your legs and help tone and shape your lower body.

Walkout

1. Fold your body in half, letting your upper body relax completely—like a rag doll hanging in front of your lower body.

2. Use your hands on the floor to walk your upper body out in four steps. Hold for 10 seconds.

3. Walk back in, relax your body again, and roll yourself back up.

Repeat 5 times.

The forward fold and roll-up are fantastic for your back. This exercise will provide a great stretch and release for the muscles running down the length of your spine and across your lower back.

The walkout will also work the muscles of your upper body and the core and help with the stability of your shoulder area.

Plank

At the end of your last walkout, hold the plank position for as long as you can. Aim to hold for a minimum of 30 seconds to a maximum of 2 minutes.

1. Your hands should be slightly in front of your shoulders to decrease pressure through your shoulder joints.

2. Keep the weight of your body evenly balanced between your feet and your hands.

3. Hold your stomach muscles in to create core strength.

Planks are great for strengthening your whole body, with an extra focus on your abdominal area.

Try to do each exercise one after another. Then repeat the sequence two to three times.

Emma-Kate Stampton certifies Pilates instructors and is a certified personal trainer. With 10 years of industry experience, she is passionate about sharing the gift of health and well-being. She is based in Brisbane, Australia.

(Photos by: Willis Lim / Model: Alana Ford / Brisbane Australia)