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12 Days of Fitness: Simple Exercises you can do at home or on the go during the busy holiday season
The holidays are upon us, which means it’s time for family gatherings and parties. These events can be a lot of fun, but they also mean you might not have the chance to exercise much over the next few weeks. Sometimes we just need some quick ideas on what to do when we’re short on time or equipment.
The 12 days of fitness are a great way to get started with some simple exercises that you can do at home, in the office, or on the go during the busy holiday season — no equipment needed!
Just like the traditional 12-days of Christmas carol, this 12-day workout series will have you singing all the way to the New Year.
Do each exercise for 30 seconds with a 10-second rest in between each, after the circuit is complete rest for 2 minutes. You can follow this up with 2-3 more times through if you desire.
1. Jumping Jacks
For 30 seconds – Jump while raising arms and separating legs to sides. Land on forefoot with legs apart and arms overhead. Jump again while lower arms and returning legs to midline. Land on forefoot with arms and legs in original position and repeat.
2. Wall Sit
Start with your back against a wall (or use an exercise ball if you have one) with your feet shoulder width and about two feet from the wall. Slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Adjust your feet if you need to so that your knees are directly above your ankles (rather than over your toes). Keep your back fl at against the wall. Hold the position for 30 seconds, rest 10 seconds. You may feel a burning sensation in the quads, but if you have pain in the knee or kneecap, stop the exercise.
3. Push Up
Place your hands on the floor so they’re slightly outside shoulder-width. Spread your fingers slightly out and have them pointed forward. Raise up onto your toes so that all of your body weight is on your hands and your feet. Contract your abdominals to keep your torso in a straight line and prevent arching your back or pointing your bottom in the air. Bend your elbows and lower your chest down toward the floor. Once your elbows bend slightly beyond 90 degrees, push off the floor and extend them so that you return to starting position. If you’re unable to complete a push-up, you can complete them from your knees instead of your toes. Get up into a push-up position and then lower your knees down to the floor so that your torso is still in a straight line with your thighs. You can also have your feet remain on the floor and place your hands on a bench, so that you’re at an incline position. If you want to increase the difficulty of the regular push-up, you can place your feet up onto a bench, which will increase the amount of body weight placed on your arms.
Begin this exercise by lying on your back on a mat in a normal sit-up position, with your feet fl at on ground and your knees bent and your arms stretched out straight on each side. Simply execute a crunch while using only your abdominals and by reaching both of your arms straight out in front of you and then return slowly to the start position – do as many as you can for 30 seconds
5. Step-Up (Alternating Legs)
Find a step, a bench, or a sturdy chair that when you place your foot squarely on it, your knee is at a 90-degree angle or larger. Step up for 15 seconds, leading with the right foot, then the left, bringing both feet completely onto the chair. To return to the starting position, lead with the right foot to step down to the floor, then the left, until ending with both feet on the ground. Switch legs, and start stepping for 15 more seconds.
Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out. Place your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Extend your hands straight out in front of you to help keep your balance. You can also bend the elbows or clasp the fingers. Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend. Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels. Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position. Do this for 30 seconds.
7. Chair Dips (Triceps)
Sit in a chair, holding on to the edge with both hands, knuckles pointing forward. Slide your bottom off the seat and hold yourself up with arms straight, keeping your body close to the chair. Slowly lower your body for two counts as you bend your elbows (they should point directly behind you, not out to the sides); straighten your arms for a count of two. Make sure your arms (not your feet) are supporting your weight throughout the motion. Repeat 12 times. On the last rep, hold at the bottom for eight counts, then pulse up and down slightly eight times before straightening your arms.
Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the body. Your legs should be working in the move too; careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees. Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond the hands. Your head should be in line with your back. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
9. High Knees
Basic high knees can be performed while running in place or moving over a distance. Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds.
10. Side Plank
Lie on your side on your mat. Place forearm on mat under shoulder perpendicular to body. Place upper leg directly on top of lower leg and straighten knees and hips. Raise body upward by straightening waist so body is ridged. Hold position. Repeat with opposite side for 30 seconds.
11. Lunges (Alternating Legs)
Slowly step forward allowing both knees to bend so that the thigh of the forward leg is parallel to the floor and the knee of the rear leg touches the floor. Then, slowly push off with forward leg to return to the starting position. Alternate legs – for 30 seconds. If this movement is too difficult to perform due to weakness, do not perform the full movement.
12. Side Lunges
Begin in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Position your hands in front of your chest. Take a wide step with your left leg to the side of you. Both your toes should be pointed in the same direction and your feet should be flat on the floor. Bend your left knee as you step outward and keep your hips back. It should feel like you are trying to sit just one side of your lower body in a chair. Release the position by pushing off your left foot to return to the starting position. Perform 10 side lunges on your left leg, then switch to your right leg.
We hope you find this helpful in getting started with some simple exercises that can be done at home or on-the-go during the busy holiday season. Be sure to stretch throughout your workout and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. And most importantly, have fun! Happy holidays and good luck on your fitness journey!
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