Easy Does It

As the weather warms and the beach beckons, pure panic often strikes as the realization hits: It’s time for the exposure of swimsuit season. Try not to indulge that panic—especially if you already own a swim suit and don’t have to go shop for a new one!

Several quick toning exercises can help to tighten the abdomen and rear end while firming legs in just a few minutes a day. Begin slowly; if you are not used to doing these exercises, try one today and add a little each day. If it hurts, stop! Let yourself rest. If you have knee or back problems, please talk with your doctor before doing these exercises.

THE GOOD OL’ PUSH UP
Hate ‘em? I do! Can’t do even one full push up? Well, even a partial push up is the start to a full push up. The girl’s version is allowed, with your knees on the ground, but as soon as you are able, try for knees off the ground. No one is watching. Remember to keep your head level with your back and your hips in line with your body. Only able to drop one inch? Try for two inches tomorrow. As soon as you are successful at one, aim for two!

THE PLANK
This all-around toning exercise will work wonders to strengthen both your back and your abdomen. Rest your arms with your elbows bent so that your upper arms are directly perpendicular to your body with elbows under your shoulders. Raise up on your toes keeping your body as straight as a board and your head in line with your spine. No camel humps allowed! Now, hold and be sure to breathe normally. Hold for at least 15 seconds if you are a beginner. Each day, add a few seconds so you work up to a minute. Think about pulling your belly button toward your spine as you hold your plank. A watch with a second hand or a stopwatch mechanism on your smart phone is a great tool to monitor your time.

LUNGES
Basically, a lunge is alternating large steps with your hands on your hips. Be careful to not dip lower than a 90-degree angle between your thigh and calf at your knee when you extend your lead leg. Do not let your knee protrude past your foot. Concentrate on keeping your upper body erect. Use your legs, hips and abdominal core to bring you back to a standing position between each lunge. Start with two on each side and increase at your own pace.

WALL SIT
Position yourself with your back to a flat wall surface, and dip as if you were sitting in a hard-back chair. Lower your body to a 90-degree angle at your hips and a 90-degree angle at your knees. Keep your feet either slightly apart or together directly under your knees. Hold and breathe. Start at 15 seconds and increase to one minute. Use your stopwatch or second hand to monitor your success.

TOE RAISES
Standing in front of your bathroom counter and gently grasping the counter for balance (or holding on to a sturdy chair), place your feet shoulder-width apart and raise up on your toes as high as possible. Lower to the floor if you need to, or almost but not all the way to the ground if you are able. Repeat. Begin with a set of 10, increase to sets of 20. For greater effort, place your toes on the edge of an object slightly higher than the heels, such as a sidewalk curb, and lower your heels even deeper. Or, try one leg at a time, bending your other leg at the knee. Focus on lifting with your lower leg.

Now, just put your swimsuit (and sunblock) on and hit the beach!

Leslie has lived in Southport since 1990 with her husband and three children. She is employed at Dosher Memorial Hospital as a Registered Nurse, and she has an interest in fitness and health.

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