Simple Tips for Small but Lasting Changes
Small Steps Towards Your Goal Are Better Than Giant Leaps Into The Couch
I know it well – that old, familiar rhythm of “well, I could skip one day” turning into “well, it’s the weekend now” turning into “goodness me, how have I gone six weeks without hitting the gym ONCE?”
While you’re certainly not alone if you’re finding yourself entering February with a waning interest in sticking to those pesky resolutions set in the starry-eyed glow of a brand new year, we here at Balance Within PT want to offer you a few suggestions for ways to help you stay active without biting off more than you can realistically chew. Little steps taken consistently lead to big changes!
Below are a few simple tips and techniques to help you get back on track and take care of your body in a consistent, practical, manageable way.
3 Tips to Keep the Fitness Going In Your Life
1. Start Small
So often in life, we can feel like we have to be 100% all of the time, all or nothing – and that’s just not the case! Even just one or two minutes of intentional movement each day is worlds better than zero, and five to ten minutes is even better! Don’t feel like you need to constantly be working at full capacity, especially if you’re just beginning. Go easy on yourself, but do take small steps towards your goals every day. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll make them when you just keep with it.
2. Less is More
If you start with only 5 reps of each of the exercises we’ll lay out below and you really
focus on the proper form, alignment, and engagement, you will see a bigger difference (and far smaller chance of injury!) than if you immediately got started trying for 100 reps 3x a day. A few focused movements made with intention and focus every day go waaaay further than a 15 mile run only done once or twice before you injure yourself or fall off because you’re too sore. Focus on that form! It’ll pay off, I promise.
3. Prioritize Micro-movements
Start noticing the many moments in your day when you’re really just standing or sitting around, waiting for something or in between engagements. Train yourself to seize those precious few moments and take the opportunity to practice a few reps of one of the exercises we will have below or some other simple exercise, again really prioritizing form over extensive repetition. Three push-ups against your counter every time you pop something into the microwave will go a long way toward building the upper body strength you want for this new year!
Now that we’ve laid the foundation for a simple, consistent exercise routine, it’s time to share a few easy but effective exercises you can implement to create the momentum you were hoping would magically appear last month when your resolutions first started slipping.
3 Simple Movements to Build Strength and Flexibility
What is a get-up you ask? Easy! It’s the action of getting up from a seated position, repeated mindfully and intentionally. Start by sitting comfortably in a chair (not a recliner – one with a good, solid back that allows you to have your feet flat on the floor while you sit up straight) and then simply stand up! It sounds easy, but now do that five times and just notice how you feel.
The most important part of this exercise is to focus on the form. (Do I sound like a broken record yet? 🙂 ) While you’re standing up, make sure to engage your glutes and your abs, squat, and keep your knees over your toes. This will help bring proper alignment to your posture and prevent injury.
Start with just five of these a day, and if you notice they feel easy-peasy, increase it to ten. Keep working your way up, incorporating the exercise a few times a day, until you notice you feel like you’re working at it – but then stop! Consistency is key. Stick with it!
I know, I know – everyone thinks these are the hardest thing, and they are challenging. But they don’t have to be at first! If you’re just starting out, you may want to try a push up against a wall. Just like before, focus on the alignment, ensure your core is engaged,
your upper body is activated, and your hands are in line with your shoulders as you lean into the wall.
If wall push ups feel totally accessible or no challenge at all, then maybe try a few against your kitchen counter or table. Still simple?
Drop down to the floor, but try them with your knees bent and feet lifted to really support your low back.
If you start at the wall and practice even just five a day until they become easy and then switch to the counter, then the floor, then the full expression, you’ll be able to drop and give ‘em twenty before you know it. Just remember – alignment, alignment, alignment! Proper form is the absolute KEY to avoiding injury and ensuring the best bang for your buck.
Lastly, we have the calf stretch. This small but mighty stretch can feel easy to overlook, but it is absolutely wonderful for adding strength to your lower body and opening up those tight muscles in the legs that can get locked up during those more sedentary winter months.
To get the benefits of this stretch, simply place your foot on a wall and *gently* lean into it. This will help open hamstrings, calves, glutes, and even those important muscles in your feet related to your balance!
Go gentle on this and be sure not to overdo it. You should start to notice a difference after just a few days of practicing this consistently! It’s nice to start with this one and and finish up with it again after any other kind of stretch, but just remember – less is more!
And that’s it, friends! If you liked these tips, you may want to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss a video from us. We post a new video every week, and are always open to suggestions from you about what you’d like us to cover. If you want to see a particular topic covered in one of our upcoming videos, just hit drop a comment below and let us know! We’ll get it on the roster so one of our expert physical therapists right here in Delafield, WI can answer your questions as soon as we can.