"Exercise is medicine": Here are five easy ways to get moving

Jun 4 2022, 4:00 pm

Sara Hodson, CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic, is the President of the Fitness Industry Council of Canada 


As we celebrate National Health and Fitness Day on Saturday, June 4th, we are inspiring Canadians to move! The Fitness Industry Council of Canada – and some gyms acrosscanada – are offering free fitness events all day. 

Exercise is medicine for our bodies and our minds and the research shows that 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise is needed to prevent chronic health conditions and improve our mental health. 

That sounds a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? 

This number could be something that stops people – literally – in their tracks, and we know that while some Canadians embraced exercise during lockdowns, many Canadians became more sedentary. It doesn’t matter where you were on your health journey- it matters where you are today and the fitness industry is celebrating movement as medicine for all Canadians this week! 

We have created a great circuit for you to do in the park, your backyard, or at the gym!  

Grab a friend (or two) and put this training circuit to the test!

1. Move Your Squat  

Lower your hips back and down into a chair sit position (squat) and hold. Push up through the legs to standing, pause and repeat.  You can also challenge your squat by rising off your heels as you stand (that’s a calf raise), or by adding a vertical jump off the ground, drop back down into a squat and repeat. 

squat

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Many of our members at LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic have knee issues, and so we incorporate modifications during our customized programs.  Remember, you don’t have to go low to do a squat and if you have an injury, strengthening the muscles around the joint is essential for regaining strength and mobility! 

Modifications: Sit to Stand. Perch your hips at the front edge of a seat with your feet flat on the floor, behind your knees. Tilt the upper body forward slightly and push yourself up with your legs into a fully standing position. Slowly lower yourself back down into the seated position you started in.  This is great to do on a park bench! 

2. Move Your Plank!

Mountain climbers are an incredibly challenging full-body exercise incorporating our core muscles and our entire upper body. We start in a plank position – which is feet back, wrists and shoulders aligned, belly button pulled in.  If you want to make it a little easier, use a park bench and go on an incline.

plank

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

From a plank position with hands on the ground or in that incline position, pull one knee towards your chest followed by the other knee and repeat in an alternating fashion.

This is a highly advanced move, so if you still want to get that core work in here you can modify the mountain climber by doing a seated knee lift! 

In seated, lift both arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level and hold. Raise one knee upwards to lift your foot off the ground, pause then lower and repeat on the other leg. 

Repeat alternating side to side

3.  Walking Lunges or Step Ups

Have you ever seen a  boot camp in a park? You have likely seen the trainer doing walking lunges because they are great for challenging the whole body. 

lunge

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Start with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms at your side or hands on your hips.  Step forward with one leg, putting your body weight over your front foot and bending  both knees to lower down into a lunge (front thigh is parallel to the ground).  Push off your back foot to bring the back leg forward to meet your front leg and repeat alternating one than the other.  Here’s a fun tip to do with friends: Lunge 10 times towards each other, high five, and then keep going! 

A great modification is to use the stairs and do a step-up. Placing one foot flat on the step, push down over the front foot to stand up. Bring your other foot up to meet the front leg. Step down and repeat.  

Perform equal reps on both sides. Bring your left leg up to meet the right only after the right leg is entirely straight to ensure that your working leg is doing all of the work. 

4. Tricep Dips or Push Ups

A tricep dip or a push-up is a great way to add upper body strength to any circuit. Both moves have modifications! 

triceps

Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Dips: Sitting on a park bench,  place your hands close together. Lift yourself off the bench, keeping your tailbone close. Lower your glutes down, bending at the below joint, then lower yourself up again your arms are fully extended. Modifications: If you don’t quite have the arm strength simply push your hips away from the bench, then sit back again. 

Push Ups: Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Straighten your arms and legs.  From either your hands and knees (or feet), lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, then push yourself back up. Many of us in the fitness industry still do knee push-ups – you do not have to be on your toes to reap the benefits of a push-up!

5. Abdominal Cycle

abs

Fitness Industry Council Of Canada

Lying on the ground,  place your hands lightly on the sides of your head and lift your head and shoulders up off the mat. Lift one leg just off the ground and extend it out. Lift the other leg and bend your knee towards your chest and twist through your core/torso to bring the opposite elbow towards the raised knee.  Lower your leg and arm at the same time while bringing up the opposite two limbs to mirror the movement. Modifications: With both knees bent, lift your shoulders off the mat and do a small abdominal curl. Cross your right knee into the chest. 

You can also do a circuit:

Take each move and perform with the following suggestions:

  • New or returning to fitness: Perform each move for 30 seconds with 30 seconds recovery.
  • Intermediate: Perform each of the moves for 45 seconds with 15 seconds recovery, doing 4-6 sets (20-30 minutes)
  • Advanced: Perform each move for one minute straight, taking one minute to recover. Repeat 203 times (for a 15-20 minutes workout)

Resistance training is essential for all of us but if you are just starting out again with exercise, here is what I recommend:  

WALK!!!!

Go out for a walk on your own or with a friend and get your heart rate into a moderate zone. 

How do you know what that is? 

In our clinics at LIVE WELL we supervise our members heart rates and blood pressure to ensure they are exercising safely and getting the most benefit from their exercises. But you can monitor your own intensity by using the talk test…..

If you are at an easy pace, you can easily talk to the person beside you. A moderate pace means you are more focused on the effort of walking, then talking. A hard pace? You aren’t talking to anyone! The reason the talk test works so well is that everyone has an easy, moderate or hard zone.

Walking provides numerous benefits for both the body and the mind, so let’s MOVE on National Health and Fitness Day.

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