Think about the last time you really stretched your body. Didn't you feel great afterward?
Unfortunately, most people-including many who are physically active-don't do enough to improve their muscle tone, flexibility and strength. To help people incorporate a simple workout regimen into their daily routines, I have devised a program that can be performed in a comfortable setting you are bound to visit each day—your bed.
These bed exercises not only increase your strength, flexibility and endurance, but also stimulate production of the mood-enhancing brain chemical serotonin, leaving you feeling calm and relaxed. As a result, most people find that they sleep better when they do these exercises at night, and feel invigorated if they do the routine in the morning.
The following exercises are designed for anyone but are particularly helpful for people who are confined to bed (while recovering from an illness or injury) and for those unable to find time during the day to exercise. They can be completed in just 10 minutes a day.
Important: When performing each movement, breathe in slowly for a count of four... hold for a count of one...then exhale through pursed lips for a count of four.
Alternate Leg Lengthener
Purpose: Tones and stretches the spine and pelvis, which bears much of the upper body's weight.
What to do: While lying on your back with your body centered on the bed and your hips and legs flat on the bed, stretch your right leg forward by pushing with the heel of your right foot. Return your leg to the starting position. Do the same stretch with your left leg. Repeat five times with each leg.
Hip Side To Side
Purpose: Tones and stretches the hips and low back.
What to do: While lying on your back with your hips flat on the bed, rock your hips gently—as far as comfortable-to the right and then to the left. Keep your upper body stable. Repeat five times in each direction.
Purpose: Tones and stretches the shoulders and upper back.
What to do: While lying on your back, place your arms at your sides. Slide your right arm and shoulder toward your right foot. Next, raise your right shoulder toward your head, while at the same time sliding your left arm and shoulder toward your left foot. Then raise your left shoulder toward your head, while lowering your right arm and shoulder toward your right foot. Repeat five times on each side, moving your shoulders up and down like a seesaw.
Arms Toward The Headboard
Purpose: Stretches the shoulders and rib cage, allowing for deeper, more relaxed breathing.
What to do: While lying on your back, extend your arms behind your head. Stretch your right arm toward the headboard of your bed or the wall behind you. Return your right arm to your side and then extend your left arm behind you. Repeat five times on each side.
Purpose: Strengthens your abdominal muscles while increasing your heart rate (improves heart muscle strength and endurance).
What to do: While lying on your back, raise your knees and, using your stomach muscles, lift your upper body, toward them. Bend your arms so that your elbows are pointing at your knees. Bring your
left elbow toward your right knee, then return to the starting position. Then bring your right elbow toward your left knee, maintaining a continuous pumping motion. Repeat six times.
Purpose: Builds upper body strength (important for daily activities such as bathing and cooking)
What to do: Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent and palms flat on the bed next to your shoulders. Fully straighten your arms to lift your upper body so that it curves into a cobra-like position. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat three times.
Purpose: Tones and strengthens the back and improves muscular coordination.
What to do: Lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Raise your legs and upper body simultaneously (only to a level that is comfortable), then reach back with your arms as if you are trying to touch your raised feet. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat three times.
Swimming In Bed
Purpose: Strengthens the arms and legs, while increasing heart rate and stimulating blood flow throughout the body.
What to do: While lying on your stomach, move one arm forward, then move it back while moving
2 the other arm forward, simultaneously kicking your legs. Repeat 20 times, counting each arm movement as one repetition.
Purpose: Cools down the body and directs blood flow away from the legs to the heart, reducing risk for blood clots in the legs.
What to do: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the bed and your arms at your sides. Tighten your buttock muscles as you lift your pelvis toward J the ceiling-until your pelvis is in line with your thighs. Then gently lower your body back to the bed. Repeat five times.
Important: If you think any of these exercises may be too strenuous for you, check with your doctor before trying them.
Easiest Exercises Boost Energy the Most
A recent study followed people who had unexplained constant fatigue. For six weeks, one group did no exercise...another group did 20 minutes of moderately intense stationary cycling three times weekly...a third group cycled for the same amount of time at a much slower pace In both exercise groups, energy increased by 20% over the sedentary group-but the lowest-intensity exercisers reported the least fatigue.