Let's Get Moving

7 Exercises Your Body Craves For A Longer, Healthier Life

by WakeMed Health & Hospitals // January - February - March 2022

If you want to feel better, and maybe even look younger, you need to get moving. The hardest part is getting started, especially now amidst the hallmarks of winter – short days, cold temperatures, and cozy clothes. Daily movement can enhance the quality of your life, your day, your week, and the months ahead.

“Your body needs, enjoys, and craves exercise. Movement, specifically exertional movement, releases central endorphins that create a wonderful feeling within the body and produce anti-aging qualities,” says Dr. Michael Moore, a WakeMed primary care physician. And once you are in a routine, your body will crave that movement and eventually thank you.

How Much and How Fast?

The American Heart Association’s recommendation is to take 10,000 steps per day, which equates to about five miles. While 10,000 steps may seem daunting, your movement and steps add up throughout the day. A few small additions make 10,000 steps an absolutely attainable goal.

And, be sure to put a little pep in your step when you can. Intensity matters. If you are able to hold a conversation during your workout and are not short of breath from your exertional level, you may need to push yourself a bit harder (although it’s still better than sitting on the couch).

“As a primary care provider, I highly recommend an hour of exercise daily, at your own level of increasing vigorous intensity and enjoyment to help you attain that physiologic benefit and endorphin release,” adds Dr. Moore. “My preference is to exercise outdoors while enjoying the fresh air. You also reap the benefits of sunshine and create some extra Vitamin D.”

Ultimately, the goal of daily movement and healthy lifestyle routines is to ward off chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease – along with decreasing the risks for stroke and cancer.

“In staying focused on your commitment to movement, you have this prescription, free of charge, to improve your health and well-being for years to come,” says Dr. Moore. “You’ll start to see changes in your body and drops in critical health markers like cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure.”

7 Exercises For A Longer, Healthier Life

1. Overhead Squats (20 reps, 5 sets): Stand, reach for the ceiling, and place your hands in front and squat like a skier. Hold this for a few seconds, then extend back upright to a standing position and repeat. Intensify by adding dumbbell weights.

2. Arm Circles (20-50 rotations): Stand with your arms extended laterally. Begin small arm circles forward, about a 6-inch radius. Count each rotation. Intensify by adding small hand weights.

3. Straight Leg Raise (30-50 reps per leg): Lie on your back. Keep one leg bent at 90 degrees while the other lifts and lowers. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Supine Superman (20-50 reps, 3 sets): Lie on your back. Lift your legs and head off the mat. Engage your core. Keep your legs squeezed together as you release and lower your legs to the mat and then draw your knees in. Repeat.

5. Mule Kick (20-50 per set, 3 sets): While on all fours, kick one leg directly backward. Once fully extended, raise the entire leg slowly by a few inches using the largest muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus. All of these reps and sets can be as little or as much as you can tolerate. Repeat on both legs.

6. Plank (60 seconds, 3 sets): Hold the plank position on your forearms (drop to your knees if needed).

7. Push-Ups (10-20 reps, 5-10 sets): For these exercise sets, take your time and go slow. Hold the position and use smooth and symmetric movements. Remember to relax your breathing, inhale with one direction of movement, and exhale with the next, slowly.

Above all, what matters most is to simply move your body. It’s not how you do it, but that you do it.

WakeMed Health & Hospitals