Exercise spotlight: Back to basics for the new year


A new year is right around the corner and, while we’re not big fans of resolutions, turning the page on the last 12 months is as good a time as any to lose weight and improve your health. While many of us tend to focus on dieting, the fact is exercise is at least as important and a powerful weight loss tool.

Losing weight, however, isn’t simply about looking better. With diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression continuing to wreak havoc on the lives of many, exercise can also help you feel better too. It can even improve your sex life, make your mind sharper, reduce stress, enhance your sleep, improve your confidence and, though it may seem counterintuitive, give you more energy.

Here are a few back to basic exercises to help you get started and get healthier in 2019:

Cardio: To many, the word instills dread but cardio doesn’t have to be painful, boring or hard. It just has to raise your heart rate and make you sweat. You’ll find some great cardio beginner tips here.

Planks: This is a great exercise to strengthen your core – the area around your waist that supports your back. Get into position and stay rigid, pulling in your abdominal area for 20 to 30 seconds. Here’s how to do different plank exercises.

Push-ups (shoulders and triceps): If you haven’t done a push-up since high school, take it slow and build your strength. Try to do five, two seconds down and two seconds back up, in a controlled motion. If five is easy, do ten. If ten is a breeze do 20. Write down the number of push-ups you did and try to do three more the next time. Here’s how to do proper push-ups.

Pull-ups (biceps and back): Because it involves pulling up your body weight, this exercise can be extremely hard if you’re not in shape or you haven’t done it in a while. Do as many as you can but make sure you pull up and drop back down in a controlled motion, with little to no rest between each one. Here’s how to progress to doing a full pull-up. 

Dumbbell squat (legs): Hold a dumbbell in each hand (or something around the house, like cans of paint), keep your head up and back straight, and squat until the dumbbells are close to the floor. Don’t arch back or lean forward. Try to do 10 reps. Once you’re able to do so comfortably, find heavier dumbbells. Here’s how to do dumbbell squats.

Dumbbell calf raises (calves): Hold dumbbells as you would in a squat but instead of dropping down, raise your heals and hold them for two to three seconds. Then drop your heals to the floor, pause and repeat. Here’s how to do a calf raise with dumbbells.

You don’t have to do each of these exercises every time you work out. Consider splitting your routine into two- or three-day cycles, for instance doing legs and calves on one day and upper body exercises on the next.

Remember, no matter what exercises you choose to do, start small – no one runs a marathon on day one, make sure to warm up and always drink enough fluids. And, of course, speak to your physician before you jump into any strenuous exercises.

Have you recently started exercising again? Please share your tips and success stories in the Shop Talk blog community forum!

Did you know? Get in the habit

A big reason we say we don’t exercise is lack of time – and yet we’ll spend hours on our phones or in front of the TV. Schedule an hour, three times a week for exercise and stick with it. You’ll look better and feel great.

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