But I want you to steer away from big goals for a second. Don’t worry we’ll circle back.
General health and wellness can be easy. Seriously you don’t need new equipment or a new gym membership. Heck, you don’t even have to work up a sweat to be a healthier, fitter person in 2017.
Whether you’re an athlete or a couch potato, there are easy life hacks that can improve your baseline fitness. This is the LOW BAR for health. Whether you have the goal of recovering from back surgery or climbing Rainier, these training tools will help.
I’m not suggesting any certain exercise style. These are just some strategies that can be added into your everyday life or existing exercise regime to improve the way you move. It’s up to you whether you use these 5 tips to help you wrestle the grandkids or achieve that PR marathon in 2017.
Walk 30 minutes a day
Duh, people. Walking is good for you.
Most of us don’t get enough mood-enhancing, disease-fighting cardio. There is a solution. Walking is cheap. It’s gentle. Walking is weight bearing and mobilizes many body parts. Even if I go for a 50-mile bike ride, I’ll still walk that day because walking moves my feet, hips and shoulders more than cycling.
For more benefits of walking and strategies to make walking more convenient, check out this post.
Work on your balance
Balance is a skill that takes training; it’s not a God-given gift. Practice makes perfect. Try standing on one leg, sitting on a wobbly surface, or walking with your eyes closed. All these techniques help train your body to know where it is spatially and stay upright.
Improve your hip extension
If you sit all day at the office and in the car, your body is trained to be chair-shaped. Your tissues are getting used to being folded into only one position, bent at the knees and hips.
Give your body something new -stand up. Notice the difference. When you torso is directly over your legs, you are in what we call hip extension. This is in contract to the hip flexion inherent in sitting positions (legs in front of torso). Try other things allow for hip extension, like walking and swimming, or strength exercises like bridging. Bonus points here if you can find movements that require getting your thighs to move behind your body into a few degrees of hip extension.
Remember, sitting isn’t the enemy here, folks. But it is important to challenge your body to by making it adapt to different stimulus and movements. So there is value in getting out of the chair and moving into hip extension. Here’s an example: hip extension is necessary for a healthy walking and running gait.
Look at all these exercises that bring your hip to full extension or beyond.
Train your rotator cuff
Your rotator cuff (set of four muscles at your shoulder) doesn’t always get a lot fanfare. But these are mighty muscles. They keep your arm pulled into the shoulder socket. And – come on- we all want our arms attached to our bodies, right? Your rotator cuff contributes to all kinds of arm movements too. Whether you’re already lifting heavy or just carrying groceries, you should be giving these mighty stabilizing muscles some love.
Our fabulous instructor Nikki explains the rotator cuff in more detail and provides exercises and a 10-minute workout that targets these important muscles.
Practice thoracic mobility
I think that list covers everyone. So yes, everyone should be working on thoracic mobility. Whether you practice Pilates, do CrossFit, or just like to stretch, you can find movements in your sport that move your upper back. You’ll want to start by twisting your upper back (e.g. rotating your thoracic spine). As that gets movement gets more comfortable, you’ll be able to progress into spinal extensions and side bends too.
If you don’t know where to start, there are some easy thoracic twist movements here.