Stretching exercises for busy people

Much has been written about how good exercise is for your health and it is important to get enough to feel great and avoid serious illness.

We all want to be fit, but most of us never seem to have enough time in our busy schedules for a proper exercise routine.

Our lives are more sedentary today because of the computer and machines generally have made us less active, so it is important to get regular exercise whenever you can.

Regular exercise 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes plus two 45-minute strength training sessions a week are quoted by health officials and would appear to be what it takes to stay healthy.

Where possible factor exercise into your daily routine, so you hardly notice you are doing it and remember, every little helps no matter how small.

It is often said that it is easier to get regular exercise when you are living in the countryside compared to city living.

The countryside certainly offers more in the way of walks and fresh air, but may lack certain amenities such as gyms and swimming pools.

Ideally you should join a gym wherever you live and, if this is within your budget, you should also engage a fitness trainer from the gym you are a member of to tailor an exercise regime that suits you.

A good trainer will learn your fitness level from a set of simple tests and be able to prepare a balanced programme involving cardiac exercise, strength training and stretching.

If you are not a member of a gym yet then here are a few tips to get your body moving and these can be done during your normal daily activities:

On the way to work

In the Car – waiting at traffic lights or when stationery

These exercises will relax you and aid circulation in your legs.

First make sure you are not in gear and your handbrake is on.

1. Sitting upright lift your legs a few inches off the floor straighten them and flex your feet a number of times.

2. Keeping your back straight and your neck in line with your back hinge forward towards the steering wheel. Place your hands in front of your face facing outwards. Gently push against the steering wheel and hold for 30 seconds.

Public transport

You will need a little bit of room for this so don’t get in a position where other passengers may crush you. This exercise will relax your muscles and de-stress you. It is also good for toning your legs and for improving your balance especially, when the train is moving.

Stand upright with your legs apart at shoulder width. Back straight and neck in line with your back. Bend your knees slightly. Widen your arms and place your hands, palms outwards, on your lower back. Hold between stops.

At work

On the computer

Avoid sitting for long periods of time at a computer. Get up often and walk around. It is helpful if you can set an alarm clock to remind you to do this, as it is easy to lose track of time once you are fully engaged in your work.

These exercises will relax your neck and shoulder muscles and aid circulation.

1. Stand with your arms hanging at your sides. Shrug your shoulders up to your earlobes, hold for 3 to 5 seconds, and then release. Repeat twice.

2. Stand away from your desk and pretend you are sitting on your chair with your feet at shoulder width and knees bent. Keep your body straight and your hands on your hips. Now rotate your body clockwise in a deep circular motion seven times then anticlockwise seven times.

At work take the stairs rather than the lift.

At home

It is easy to slouch when you are sitting at home or watching the television. This exercise will help you strengthen your back and calf muscles.

Try doing this exercise without the support of the wall. Otherwise, put your outstretched palm against the wall for support.

Stand straight with legs at shoulder width. Extend your right arm and palm outwards. Put your left arm on your hips. Lift your left leg in front of you as high as you can with the knee bent outwards and your foot flexed. Hold this position as long as you can before repeating with your other leg.

Remember always consult your doctor if you intend to take up a strenuous fitness regime.