The simple exercise plan that will change your body for life
According to w&h’s fitness expert Lucy Wyndham-Read, there are two key areas to work on to achieve the fittest, healthiest version of you…
This also helps with your balance and agility, as flexibility training helps to keep your joints strong, keeps you mobile and helps prevent injuries. The more flexible you are, the more fluidity of movement through your body you will have, which naturally makes you more elegant. Often this is overlooked in favour of spending time on exercises that get us in better shape, yet as I say to my clients, better flexibility instantly makes you look in better shape. So every day be sure to do these recommended flexibility moves and you will feel your body loosen up and hold it itself better.
First thing in the morning when you wake up complete the "grab some stars stretch". Do this by sitting on the edge of your bed, with your feet firmly placed on the ground hip width distance apart, good upright body posture and your arms resting by your sides. Take a deep breath in and extend both arms up and drop your fingertips out to the sides and push your palms up, then exhale and at the same time and lift your hands back in and arms up higher as if you are grabbing a star from the sky, hold then slowly lower your arms back down to your start position. Repeat this several times.
Every time you take the stairs aim to take two at a time as this will help increase your flexibility through your hips.
Tip toes in the shower: this is a great way to stretch while you are warm and no better time to do that than in the shower, so just stand straight then extend arms directly above your head. Come up on to your toes and hold for as long as you can, making yourself as tall as you can. If you are more of a bath lady, then simply do the toe reach: sitting in the bath, slowly walk your hands down the front of your legs aiming to get your hands to your toes or beyond. At the furthest point hold for about 10 seconds, feeling the stretch in the back of your legs; do this several times."
Do a sitting rotation move every half hour to ease stiffness in your back and help increase flexibility through your waist. Sit with good posture and both feet placed firmly on the ground, then simply rotate round to one side as if you are looking behind you, hold, then rotate to look around the other shoulder, be sure to turn from your waist and not just move your head.
Reach and reach again: Another really good idea to help with daily flexibility is always place food or even clothes in higher places so you naturally have to stretch and reach up every time. So don?t store often used items in low cupboards which make us bend; put them in the high ones which make you stretch.
Before bed, it is always nice to stretch the body before you switch off for the night and doing this will help realign your body and pull everything back into place. So standing by your bed with your feet hip width distance apart and parallel and both arms relaxed by your sides. Now extend one arm up directly up above your head and then exhale leaning very slightly to the opposite side from your raised arm, hold this for a few seconds, then come back up the centre. Repeat with the opposite arm.
Within your day aim complete my Windmill Stretch and Tone, a multi-tasking move as it does so much in one. It is amazing for flexibility as it stretches nearly all your major muscles, improves your balance and also tones your legs, tum, bum and arms.
Start by standing upright with your feet hip width distance apart and your knees slightly bent, now kick one leg directly out in front and at the same time swing the opposite arm out in front aiming to reach your foot, and the other arm out behind. Keep alternating from side to side and aim to do this 40 times a day. (If you are new to exercise you can do this 20 in the morning and then 20 later in the day.) Always make sure you are warm before you complete this move.
This is such an important part of fitness as it not only shapes and sculpts our body and increases our ability to burn fat, but more importantly it helps keep out bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. After the age of 30 our bone density starts to decline and without exercise they can start to become weak and brittle. In addition, our muscle mass starts to decline too, and this can cause weight gain, which, again, strength training will help sort.
Your motivation: we can still regain strong bones and toned muscles not matter what age you are. When we do exercise that causes our body to resist against a weight it produces a chemical reaction in the bones which strengthens them; similarly, when we challenge our muscles it helps build stronger muscle fibres.
The push up: this exercise strengthens the bones in your arms and chest and tones and fires up the muscles in your arms, shoulders chest and even your abs. The great thing with this exercise is you very quickly gain strength and endurance so don’t be put off and think it is too hard.
If you are a complete beginner then instead of preforming this on a step or bench, simply stand facing a wall and take a big step back and then place your hands shoulder width distance apart in line with your shoulders, then slowly lower yourself towards the wall then push back up. Keep doing this to the point where it feels a challenge, then do a few more. When you feel stronger try this as I show here where you lean into a bench and perform the same move. Aim to do this 3 times a week.
Step-ups: the benefit with this is that, again, like the previous exercise, you are using your own body’s weight as resistance and this will help to strengthen your bones and fire up and tone your lower body muscles.
Simply find a solid, sturdy raised surface and step up and down; the higher the surface, the harder this will be, aim to do this alternating the leg you lead with each time for between 1-2 minutes.