Health + Wellness

Keeping Our Muscles Active

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By Winnie L

Keeping active is key to everything from increased calorie burn to better posture. We explore some ways to keep your muscles active on the commute, at the office and when at home.

During the commute

Keeping your muscles active while commuting to work or play is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here’s how:

1. Walk or ride to your destination.

2. Get off at an earlier stop if you are taking the bus or train, and walk the rest of the way. While in the bus or train, whether you are sitting or standing, make sure that you are doing so with a good posture, with back straight and shoulders rolled back.

3. If you drive, park some distance away and walk to your destination.

4. Take the stairs as much as possible, instead of using the elevator.

*tip: Pack a towel, ice pack and stash a refreshing Cocomax Coconut Water the evening before in the pantry fridge to help with freshening up just before you start work.

In the office

Don’t limit yourself to the space around your desk while at work. Where possible, take active breaks each hour or period of the day. Here are some moves that will get your muscles active.

Pam loves Pie

1. Neck, wrist and ankle rolls

Make sure that your neck is straight and you are looking directly ahead. Then gently tip your neck forward, roll your head to the left, roll your head back so your eyes are facing the ceiling, then gently roll your head to the right, and back to the front again. Repeat five times.

For wrist rolls, straighten your arms in front of you. Raise your palms up and down, bending just at the wrist. Repeat for five times then roll your wrists, making tiny circles. Repeat for five times.

For ankle rolls, move your ankles in a circular motion, first in a clockwise direction, then an anti-clockwise direction. Do at least five in each direction with each foot.

2. Leg lifts and swings

Strengthen the muscles of your leg with these leg lifts and swings. You may want to hold on to your table for more balance and support. Lift one leg to the back, making sure it is straight, then lower it slowly and raise your knee at the same time. Swing and lift your leg forward and back for at least ten times for each leg.

You can also throw in a few glute kicks and calf raises to stretch your hamstrings and calves. Standing with one leg straight, kick the other leg back and try to touch your buttocks. Repeat ten times with each leg. For calf raises, raise your heels off the floor and hold for ten seconds. Slowly lower them. Repeat for ten times.

Tip: Look out for colleagues around you before kicking.

3. Undertable toners

This exercise is great for secretly strengthening muscles under the table. It can be done either with one or two legs. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor, and your abdominal muscles are tight. Extend one or both legs until they are level to your hip. Hold for ten seconds, then lower both legs slowly. Repeat for ten times.

4. Water bottle raises

Give your arms a weight workout right at your desk, with a full water bottle. To work those biceps, hold the water bottle in your right hand and bend your elbow. Extend your arm, bringing the bottle up overhead. Repeat this ten times on each side.

Alternatively, hold the bottle in your right hand and bend your elbows, bringing the bottle towards your shoulder. Repeat this ten times on each side.

5. Table pushes

Do push ups right in the comfort of your office. Or rather, a variation of it. Place your hands at the edge of your desk, shoulder width apart. Make sure that your legs are positioned behind you, so that your body is at a 45-degree angle to the desk. Bend your arms, lower your chest towards the desk, then slowly push yourself up from the desk. Do at least twenty push ups and work up a (small) sweat.

At home

Being in the comfort of your home does not mean you can sit back and relax. Continue to burn those calories with these moves.

1. Hamstring curls

Don’t have weights? No sweat. Use a full water bottle. Lie down with your tummy on the floor and hold the water bottle between your feet. Bend at the knees and pull the bottle towards your buttocks at the same time. Slowly lower your feet to the floor and repeat for twenty times. For an added challenge, lower your feet to a 10-degree position without touching the floor, and lift it up again.

2. Knee lifts

Stand with your feet together and abdominals engaged. Raise and bend your arms at the elbows. Lift your right knee up in front, while pulling your arms down at the same time. Make sure that you keep your supporting leg straight. Lower your right knee, then alternate and lift your left knee. Repeat this for twenty times.

3. Side lunges

Stand with backs straight and shoulders rolled back, tightly squeezing the muscles around the abdominal and buttocks areas. Take one big step to the side and bend the right knee with toes pointed forward. Keep the other leg straight. Push back up and bring your feet together and alternate with the left side. Repeat this for ten times each side.

4. Jump squats

Stand straight with the back straight and knees slightly bent, feet are shoulder-width apart. Squat down, still keeping the back straight and your head facing forward. Engage your core and jump up, letting your arms reach as high as possible. Land in the same squat position to complete one repetition. Control and land as quietly as possible. Repeat for twenty times. To make this more challenging, hold two full water bottles in both hands as you do the exercise, or stand on one leg as you jump.

5. Walk-a-jog

For a more intense workout, go for a brisk walk or jog around your neighbourhood.

Woman Running Barefoot

Photo credits:
Pilates 016 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/pamlovespie
Woman running barefoot – https://www.flickr.com/photos/666_is_money

 

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