As it was briefly mentioned before, a good basic exercise is the squat (also called deep knee bend). Depending on your initial level of fitness, you may need to start slowly and use a chair with arm rests for support.
Squatting exercise (deep knee bend)
1. Stand in front of a chair with arm rests.
2. Place your hands on the arm rests. Slowly lower yourself to the seat by bending your knees.
3. Raise yourself back up to the initial standing position.
Do a set of 10 squats – pause 1 minute – do 2 more sets of 10 squats with a 1 minute pause in between.
Once you are comfortable with this easy form, you may not want to use the arm rests for support that much, but only when needed.
Squads with arms crossed
The next variation of this exercise lets you do the squats with your arms crossed over your chest. Again: 3 sets of 10 squats with a 1 minute break between sets.
You can progress to the next option: squats with weights. Here you will want to use 5 pound dumbbells in each hand and proceed as before. Start with this relatively low weight first and progress slowly.
When you start with your strength training, do not exceed 5 minutes of push ups and squats in the first little while. Allow time, and then increase to 10 minutes.
Prevention of injuries
It cannot be emphasized enough to take it easy with the weights, no matter whether you work out at home or at the gym. Build your program over time. It not only prevents frustration, but much more important, it prevents injury. Also remember: beyond a time of 45 minutes, your body will feel the excessive stress and sound the alarm bell, meaning that the release of the stress hormones (ACTH, cortisol) will be triggered (Ref. 1, p.100). Instead of creating fitness for your body and benefit for your health, you have axed the benefit and produced a disbalance in your hormonal status. This means a direct highway to accelerate the aging process.
Here is a good very basic plan to achieve a level of fitness on an ongoing basis. You can achieve it by consistent, daily exercise of:
Basic exercise plan (points 1 and 2):
1. Aerobic exercise of 30 minutes
2. Upper and lower body strength training of 5 to 10 minutes
If you want to create a more intense program, you can do:
– aerobic exercise (bicycle, treadmill, brisk power walk) that burns up 300 calories
– weight training at home or at the gym 3 times per week, but not exceeding 45 minutes, so your cortisol levels stay low.
– some flexibility training: stretches, yoga, Pilates.
Stretching before you start with your exercise is excellent as a “warm up”. It can also prevent muscle cramps. After a vigorous walk it is also very relaxing to stretch. You can build stretching easily into your daily routines. After sitting for an extended period you will very likely have the urge to stretch and loosen up those muscles. We do not have to look far for examples. As humans we seemed to have unlearned how to stretch, whereas cats have natural talents regarding this.
1. B. Sears: “The age-free zone”.Regan Books, Harper Collins, 2000. Also see Dr. Sears’ site.
2. B. Sears: “Zone perfect meals in minutes”. Regan Books, Harper Also see Dr. Sears’ site.
3. B.J. Wilcox, D.C. Willcox and M. Suzuki: “The Okinawa Program.” Clarkson Potter,2001, N.Y., U.S.A.
4. E.L. Rossi: The psychobiology of mind-body healing. Norton &Co., 1986, N.Y., U.S.A.
5. Vitamins and Foods. Audio-Digest Family Practice Vol 49, Issue 29, Aug.7, 2001.
6. P.C. McGraw: Life strategies. 1999, Simon&Schuster Source, N.Y., U.S.A.
7. B. Sears: “The top 100 zone foods”. Regan Books, Harper Collins, 2001. Also see Dr. Sears’ site.