We all know that we should be exercising and moving our bodies every day. But if the thought of spending an hour at the gym, taking a class, or even just getting incredibly sweaty doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry.
There are so many different ways to stay in shape that most able-bodied people can find a program or exercise they actually like, which will help give them the body they want. I asked studio owners, trainers, and other experts about what exercises or programs you can every day to stay fit.
Maggie Umberger, a Chicago-based yoga and fitness instructor, as well as the content director of A Sweat Life, shared with me why yoga poses are a great way to stay fit every day. She highly recommends the reverse plank. “We do a lot of forward folds in class, so this posture is not only a great counter pose to forward bending, it builds strength and stability as well as range of motion for the shoulder. You’re also working to strengthen your back and triceps in a nonconventional way (as in, say, push-ups),” she says.
Umberger also recommended, “A reverse table top variation of the pose is a great variation to begin to build core strength and develop the range of motion for the shoulder if a reverse plank is too much. You can start working a reverse table top — holding it for 3-5 breaths once you lift your hips — and work up in the number of “reps” you perform, eventually working up to a full reverse plank. Take care if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, as a full reverse plank can be hard on the wrists.”
I spoke to Kelly Magnus, an instructor at Studio Three in Chicago, who explained, “Exercise you should be doing every day is strength and mobility [training]. Specifically low impact core strength, like a plank (or any variation of the plank). Core movement and strength is essential for everything we do — our core is the foundation for all of our movements.”
According to Magnus, having a strong core benefits your entire body, “[It] prevents lower back pain, improves your posture, supports walking, gives you the ability to lift a box, and is the best way to improve your running. I love the plank specifically because it works your core stabilizing muscles and requires you to focus on balance.”
Jeana Anderson Cohen, Chicago based trainer and founder of A Sweat Life, is also a big proponent of planks. “If done correctly, you’ll engage muscles from head to toe in a way that enhances your posture and helps you as your move through your day.”
She says, “It’s not necessarily more challenging, one way versus the other, but a forearm plank does involve more shoulder muscles and relieves pressure on your wrists. I prefer a forearm plank because in daily life, we tend to put a lot of pressure on our wrists.”
Bettina Gozo, Chicago-based Nike Master Trainer, Certified Functional Strength Coach, and Corrective Exercise Specialist, recommends running every day. “You can run at an easy pace for de-stressing,” she says. “Pick a pace that you feel you can sustain for a long period of time. This is something you can do on days you just want to get moving a little, but not put too much strain on your body.”
But to get a better workout, she says, “Start to run at a pace that is a little more uncomfortable…This is a pace that should feel challenge, yet doable for an extended period of time. This is a good start for people that want to start training for a small race, like a 5k.”
Gozo also explained how running is a great way to keep calories burning day long, “You can also run to challenge yourself and burn more calories the rest of the day. You can do this by running at an uncomfortable pace for a short amount of time (30-45 seconds), then bringing it back to that easy aerobic pace, or even walking. This will spike your heart rate up past 80% of your max heart rate, which is the point where your body cannot remove lactic acid as quickly as it is produced. This will increase the lactate threshold, which will improve your overall fitness and performance, all while burning more calories the rest of the day!”
According to Michael Magid, former professional soccer player and founder of LA Goalkeeping Academy, playing soccer is a great way to stay fit daily because “it combines all the essential ingredients to maintain a balanced fitness regimen.”
He explained, “Consistent running and changing of speeds replicates interval training on a treadmill, which has been scientifically proven to be more effective for boosting metabolism and burning fat then jogging. Playing soccer also builds core strength through the constant striking of the ball, and jumping forces you to tighten those abs for balance. This leads to sleek midsections. Additionally, playing soccer builds lower extremity strength. The constant swinging and flexing of the legs is a great way to strengthen glutes, hamstrings and quads. Plus, the mobility necessary leads to better flexibility and fewer injuries. Finally, the element of anaerobic conditioning such as quick bursts of speed, and explosive movement leads to a healthier cardiovascular system.”