Exercises You Probably Never Think About
Focusing on toning your body is every bit as important as burning off energy through aerobic exercise.
There are, however, various parts of the body that most of us never really consider as needing exercise. The whole of your body needs exercise if the various parts of you are going to remain in tip-top condition.
In this section, I am going to look at some of the most often neglected bodily parts, and how you can exercise them utilizing simple, straightforward everyday activities.
Exercising Your Face
Your face is almost certainly a part of your body that you have never
considered exercising. But it does need it, especially is you want to open up your features, remove the lines from your skin and give yourself a clearer and younger looking expression.
Exercising your face is all about using the facial muscles that you use the least in your everyday life, because this strengthens these muscles and therefore your face becomes more flexible and expressive.
Before starting these exercises, you should take a good, long look at
yourself in the mirror to decide which exercises you should focus on
personally. If, for example, you are by nature a frowner, then do not bother with the frowning exercise. Instead, focus on smiling or winking, for example.
Here are four extremely easy and painless facial exercises that you can start putting into practice right now:
Smiling: To paraphrase a line from Casablanca, ‘you know how to
smile, don’t cha?’ If not, here is how you do so to gain maximum
exercise benefit from smiling. With your head in an upright but relaxed pose, clench your cheeks upwards while drawing your lips wide over your teeth at the same time. Hold the position for a few seconds, then relax and repeat the process. Do this 15-20 times per session, and try to do it at least once every day. Try smiling at other people more often as well. You might be surprised how much better it makes you feel spiritually, and the responses that you get will more than likely justify making the small effort involved.
Frowning: In this exercise, you start with your head upright but
relaxed, only this time you tense up the muscles in your forehead and draw your eyebrows down by doing so. Hold the resultant frown for a few seconds and then release, and do the exercise 15-20 times per session.
This is an exercise that you should only do in moderation, as overusing these muscles by doing this exercise too regularly or often can lead to the development of unwanted facial lines and wrinkles.
Winking: With your head in the traditional upright and relaxed position, turn your head slightly to one side so that one eye is pushed slightly forward. Close the more prominent eye, and hold it closed for a second or two. Open the eye again, and repeat the operation 15-20 times with the same eye. Then, turn your head the other way so that the opposite eye is to the fore, and repeat the whole process with that eye.
Once again, you probably do not want to overdo this particular
exercise, as doing so can lead to the formation (or acceleration) of the fine creases and wrinkles at the corners of the eyes that are commonly known as ‘laughter lines’.
Also, I would recommend that this is an exercise that you do in a
private place, because doing this in public or with people that you do
not know around you might give them completely the wrong idea!
Tongue pulling: This is an exercise that you should only do in private or with people that you know. While winking at strangers could get you a lot of unwanted attention, this one is far more likely to get you a smack in the face or a punch on the nose, so do be careful where and when you choose to practice this exercise!
Start from the relaxed but upright head position and purse your lips
slightly. Then, push your tongue out of your mouth (yes, exactly like
you used to do when you were a kid) and then retract it. Assuming that you do not regularly go around pulling your tongue out at people, this is an action that the muscles at the back of your tongue will rarely undertake. While your tongue is used to moving up and down and from side to side inside your mouth while you are eating or talking, this ‘pushing back to front’ is using the muscles in a way to which they are not accustomed. Repeat this exercise 15-20 times per session.
Feet, Ankle And Leg Exercises
Here are ways that you can make your muscles work even while sitting down.
Crossing legs: This exercise is exactly what it sounds like it would be, but just like the safety videos on the plane suggest, even moving your legs and feet around while sitting down can stimulate blood flow and muscle activity in your legs.
So, it is simply a question of sitting down in your chair, relaxing and
then crossing one leg up and over the top of the other. Hold that final position for less than a second – in this case, it is the action and movement that is important, not the final position – and then unwind back to the original relaxed position. Do the same thing 15-20 times and then repeat the actions for the other leg.
Swinging: This exercise is almost an extension of the crossing motion that we used in the last one. After the legs have been crossed, you should swing the foot that is on top forwards and then backwards again in a pendulum like motion.
This makes the muscles at the back of your legs contract and expand
in the effort to elevate your foot, and this stimulates the muscles and increases the blood flow in your legs. As always repeat 15-20 times for each leg, and do try not to do this in a environment where you might risk kicking others while taking your exercise!
The swivel: This one is easy, but effective for keeping your calves and ankles, in particular, in good shape.
It can also be done sitting in your chair or on the floor at home, with your legs stretched straight out in front of you. All you need to do is swivel your feet at the ankles so that the toes of both feet point at each other, and then swivel back again so that your heels do the same. Repeat this as many times as you like (at least 20 would be good) and use this exercise whenever you have been seated for long periods as a means of ‘refreshing’ your legs.
Tip, tap: Even the simple act of tapping your toes on the ground will keep your feet, ankles and lower legs active and ensure that your muscles are stimulated so that the blood flow in your lower legs is encouraged.
Whether you are wearing shoes in the office or sat at home barefooted, simply lift the toes of your left foot off the ground and tap them back down again two or three times. Rest for a moment – you shouldn’t need long, as this is hardly strenuous – and then repeat. Do this 15-20 times with the same foot, and then repeat the exercise with the opposite foot.
Back And Buttock Exercises
Shift and lift: This is an exercise that you can do to strengthen the
muscles of your lower back and buttocks (in particular) while sitting
down. This is therefore something that you can do even while you are
at work, although given the nature of the ‘lifting’ element of the
exercise, I would not really recommend that you do this while talking
to others in your office, for example. It might make them think there
is something wrong with you!
Nevertheless, this is a great exercise for reducing any stiffness or
soreness that might result from sitting in the same position for an
extended period of time, and it strengthens those muscles too!
While you are in your chair, relax and then clench the muscle in one
buttock and hold for a couple of seconds, lifting slightly as you do so. Relax and then repeat. Do this 15-20 times for each buttock.
Hip sway: This is great exercise to do if you are standing for any
length of time, as it relieves the tension in your legs and stimulates
29 the blood flow throughout the whole of your lower body. It also helps to avoid getting the pain in the lower back that afflicts some people if they are forced to stand for any length of time.
While standing upright, let your right knee relax and soften, while at
the same time pushing your left hip out to the side. Pull the hip back in again, and repeat the same action 15-20 times. After that, allow your left knee to bend and relax, and force your right hip out in the same manner.
Lifting: Grab a bag – a supermarket plastic bag, or anything else that has suitable handles for lifting will do the trick.Put something of weight in the bag – again, it is fairly irrelevant exactly what it is, as long as it weighs at least a few kilos (water bottles are ideal for this, because you know that a liter bottle weighs almost exactly a kilo).
Keeping your arm straight down by your side, bend at the knees until
you can reach the bag on the floor and then lift it by straightening
your knees up. Lift until your legs are once again straight, hold the
‘lifted’ position for a few seconds, and then return the bag to the floor by bending at the knees once again. Repeat 15 times on the one side of your body, and then repeat on the opposite side.
When done correctly – that is, by bending at the knees and not from
your back – this exercise is excellent for strengthening the lower back, buttocks and hips, but is will also help to keep your arms and thighs in great shape.
Give us a shrug: This is an exercise that not only helps keep your
lower back strong, but is also an effective way of releasing the tension that can build up in your shoulders and neck. It will help to keep your arms and shoulder muscles toned and in trim at the same time. It can also be done in either a standing or a sitting position.
Wherever you are ready, simply lift your shoulders up towards your ears in a classic shrugging motion, then lift your forearms up to a position where they are parallel to the floor and turn your palms outwards.
Finally, tilt your head to one side, and twist your head slightly from the neck, then hold that final position for a few seconds. Return to the beginning and do the whole thing again, but this time, tilt your head to the opposite side before twisting.
There is no better time to start taking regular exercise than this very second, so get your shoes on, go out for a nice long walk, and take the time to think about all of other ways that you are going to make exercise an integral part of your life from now on.