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Lucy Engelman
Lucy Engelman
Health

The 2 Exercises You Can Do At Home That May Change Your Life

Small habits that can make a huge difference.

Exercise isn’t always fun, but it makes us feel great. The consensus seems to be the same among all of us when it comes to physical activity: You never regret a workout — even though the hardest part is to just get started. I don’t love it while I’m exercising, but when I’m done? Now that’s a feeling I wish I could bottle and sell.

Exercise does so much for the body and mind. We all know we should do it, but it’s difficult to find something we will stick to; we don’t always want to make it to the gym every day; and on the days when energy is low, it is even harder to get motivated. Here are two exercises you can do at home — or around your neighborhood. They will make a huge difference in health and muscle tone, have low impact and leave you feeling terrific.

Planks

Planks are great for the entire body. They work everything from the arms and chest to the legs. We may feel it in our core the most, but you can have peace of mind knowing it’s like a whole body workout. There are also many different variations, and that will keep you from getting bored. It’s something you can do during the commercials of your favorite show or on a work break.

As you get stronger you can try a side plank and a one-arm plank, or alternate lifting legs while holding a plank. Start a group text and challenge everyone to do three planks a day, or time yourself and be amazed at how fast your planking time will increase.

Proper planking form: Place feet shoulder-width apart and keep your body in a straight line. Look in a mirror to make sure your bum isn’t pointing up or sagging down. Place palms of hands or elbows flat on the floor shoulder-width apart. Make sure that your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders. Your elbows should be pointing back, not out to the side.

In short, you must engage your core and raise your body up while keeping your forearms on the floor and your body in a straight line from head to toes. Keep your abdominals engaged and do not let your hips rise or drop. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat two to three times. For a more intense workout, you might also try Spiderman knees — holding a high plank and bringing your right knee to your right elbow and then your left knee to your left elbow. For more on the various positions, go here.

Walking

Walking is amazing for a lot of reasons. It’s low impact, so it’s easy on your body. You can do it with friends or family, or alone while listening to your favorite podcast or audiobook. It takes you outside in nature, but you can also take advantage of a treadmill in any gym (or get one for your home).

Experts recommend walking at a pace that will allow you to carry on a conversation — yet you won’t want to talk a lot. It is also an exercise you can do in your home. (I know lots of people who get their steps in while walking around their house.) It doesn’t take any training, and because it makes you feel so good people who start walking stick with it. Consider finding a walking group in your area, which will keep you interested and help you meet different people — which makes us feel great, too.

You don’t need a huge block of time, either. Take three 10-minute walks a day, or one longer walk. Whatever you have time for will do. You can also increase the intensity by carrying light dumbbells. Equipment is also cheap. Make sure you have supportive shoes and comfortable clothing, and you are ready to go.

If you really want to get a good workout, the National Institutes of Health says you burn 30 percent more calories when you walk on uneven terrain (think neighborhood hills). And, according to the American Council on Exercise, moving your arms while you stride can boost your heart rate up to 10 beats per minute and increase oxygen consumption between 5 and 15 percent, adding to the number of calories burned during a workout.

For more on how to get the most benefits from walking, go here.
 
These two exercises will get you moving without the wear and tear on your body. They will help you build lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism, as well as keep sending those feel-good hormones to your brain without a lot of strain.

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