It’s easy to take for granted the ability to get up and down off the floor unassisted.
In fact, you didn’t even realize your effortless “get up” was gone until it had got up and went! It was that horrifying moment on your last vacation that let you know something had to give. At the botanical center, you sat on the ground with the rest of the tour group for a lovely picnic in the rose garden. While it may have been awhile since your last picnic, you didn’t think a thing about it until you had to stand up.
It was slow. It may have involved rolling. You’re grateful you will never see any of those people again.
You’re set to get back to working out but you know you can’t pick up where you left off a few years ago. The workout DVDs that you used to love have too much up and down. The classes at your gym spend a lot of time doing planks. While you refuse to join the water Zumba set you’re fairly certain that you’re not ready – yet – for Body Pump either.
It’s never too late to regain strength and balance. The question is…how do you start?
The first step is to get moving. If you’ve been sedentary, start walking. You have to get used to moving purposefully again in some form or fashion. It doesn’t matter if it is outdoors or on a treadmill (or even an elliptical machine if you have access to one) just start your body moving again.
Then you need to strengthen your foundation. You can do sit-to-stands (because squats are just like sitting in a chair) and wall push-ups. You also need to add in some standing core exercises.
The core is your home base for strength and balance. According to the American Council on Exercise, the core consists of “the major muscles that move, support and stabilize your spine”. Unfortunately the most familiar core exercises involve being on the floor, which may not be the best place to start your core training.
If you’re just starting to work on building a strong foundation or just would prefer to stay off the floor, there are plenty of exercise options for standing core exercise. Here are three example exercises I shared on a recent FitLife segment on KY3 Ozarks Today.
Stability Ball Walk Out: Start by sitting tall on a stability ball with feet flat on the floor. As you walk your feet forward two to three steps, lean back on the stability ball. Pause and then walk back to your original sitting position. Be sure to keep your spine straight during the entire movement.
Wood Chop: Hold a dumbbell, small medicine ball or even a water bottle in both hands. With straight arms bring the weight up over your right shoulder. Using the torso to twist and keeping your arms straight, chop diagonally across the body to bring the weight to lower left side of the body near your hip. Return to starting position and repeat for all repetitions before switching sides.
Good mornings: Hold a lightly weighted bar, dowel or broom handle across your shoulders (not your neck). With a straight spine and soft knees, hinge forward like you are bowing to someone (or yourself) in the mirror. Return to a standing position, slightly squeezing your glutes at the top.
The key to all of these exercises is to keep your core braced throughout the entire movement. (Ideally you’ll keep your core engaged during ALL your exercises.) Brace your core by pulling your belly button into your spine, like you are tightening inner belt. Do these exercises for 1-3 sets, 10 – 12 repetitions per set two to three days per week.
If done consistently, you may be surprise how quickly your strength returns. You may even think about planning another picnic.