“Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate”-Women’s Health UK
Exercise has so many clear benefits. It leads to positive changes in the cardiovascular and digestive systems, improved blood sugar levels and decreased the risk of several cancers. It also leads to an improvement in pain levels and the well-being of chronic pain sufferers. I have written about this is my November 2017 post on chronic pain.
If the benefits of exercise could be bottled, that bottle would be the holy grail for a pharmaceutical company.
A well-rounded exercise program will include mobility and stretching exercises as well as aerobic activities such as running. A program should also include strengthening exercises that involves movements against gravity or using weights or a band to provide resistance.
“I believe when the whole body is strong the mind thinks strong thoughts”
The power of strengthening exercises is that it involves challenging the body with a new stimulus. This causes a response by your body that leads to positive adaptations in your bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. This leads to greater endurance and resilience of your musculoskeletal system. It also improves your physical capacities allowing you to perform physical tasks with ease, precision and control. In other words strengthening helps you get better at what you are attempting to do. In my opinion it also has strong positive effects on the mind-body connection through both known and unknown mechanism.
Strengthening exercises do have a risk of being too challenging and with this in mind need to approached with common-sense. The exercises I have outlined below are intended for someone who is new to lower body strengthening but are safe for most people to do. That said, if you have any pain beyond mild discomfort when you do the following exercises, or if that discomfort does not improve in subsequent workouts, or if there is any reason you feel you should not do them (e.g. recent injury or trauma, pregnancy etc.) please do not do them and see a qualified health professional for specific advice.
The Hip Series (4 exercises)
-Position yourself with your back flat against the wall throughout the exercise.
-Bottom knee should be bent for support and the top leg’s ankle stays neutral.
-Movements should be slow and controlled and returned to the start position.
-These exercises are done for both hips. Begin by doing 8 repetitions per set, 2 sets per workout. Add repetitions to your sets as your strength increases. Try this twice per week.
-If these exercises become too easy they can be made more difficult with addition of 2-5 lbs. ankle weights
Side Leg Raise 1
Starting your top leg straight, slowly raise your top leg 18-24”. Hold for 2 seconds. Now lower and return the leg to the start position. Repeat 8 times.
Side Leg Raise 2
Starting your top leg straight, slightly rotate the hip and leg so the knee cap turns slightly toward the ceiling. Now slowly raise your top leg 18-24”. Hold for 2 seconds. Now lower and return the leg to the start position. Repeat 8 times.
With the top leg straight, bend the knee as the knee moves toward the chest then straighten your knee. Return your straight leg to the start. This will mimic a cycling motion.
With knees bent and feet on wall. Open & close legs like a clamshell. Use a band around your knees if this exercise is too easy.
The hip series is part 1 of 4 of a group of body strengthening exercises that will be featured on this blog in the upcoming months. I hope this helps you. Thanks for reading!