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Give Your Workout a SparkStart

5-10 Minutes to Major Momentum


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Hi Jen -

This is a great article. Some friends in healthcare and I firmly believe in the microfitness concept (start small for behavior change, and you'll add up cumulative big gains - or rather - big losses).

We developed a community challenge format via Twitter just for this very purpose, and to gain support and motivation from friends and family.

It's called 'Get Up and Move,' and you can start using it (free web application) at

There's no registration - it uses your account to login - and challenges are by default private (they arrive via Direct Message on Twitter and in your email inbox if you've set that option on your tweet profile).

We'd love to see the Spark community try it out!

:) @jensmccabe
Jen McCabe
#getupandmove Report
I have gathered some sitting/armchair exercises for those days I'm too pooped to do much else and for doing in front of the television. They strengthen the knees and stretch the muscles so that as one gets more active it helps prevent sore muscles.

Be sure to ask your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially to ascertain if the exercise routine will aggravate or worsen any injuries you already have.

Armchair Exercises
Feet and Toes
Lift your feet a few inches off the floor a couple of inches and wiggle your toes.

Now, slowly lower your legs to floor then slowly raise them back up until the knee joint is locked. Repeat a few times.

Keeping your feet off the floor, extend your legs and push your feet forward as if pointing at something in the distance with your toes, hold for a few seconds then pull your feet back, pointing the toes to towards the ceiling.

Put both feet back on the floor, hip width apart, and come up onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the floor. Hold for a few seconds then relax and repeat a few times.

With your feet flat on the floor, lift one foot at a time and slowly rotate your ankles around in small circles (both directions) to loosen off any excess tension.

After your feet, move your attention to your lower legs and calf muscles.

Sit up straight and tense the lower leg muscles, holding for a few seconds, feeling the various muscles contract before relaxing. Repeat three times.

Relax and bring your attention to the upper legs. Tense the upper leg muscles and hold for a few seconds, Repeat three times, again building up the tension to your maximum each time.

Sit with your feet hip width apart and come up onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the floor. Push your legs down as if trying to push your heels back onto the floor, whilst resisting and tensing the legs so that the heels don’t actually go back to the floor. Relax and repeat several times.

Next, sit with your feet hip width apart, but with your knees together. Start squeezing your knees together and tense your upper leg muscles. Do this several times, gradually building with each one up to your maximum effort.

Stay in the same position, but this time put your hands on the outside of your knees. Push outwards, trying to open your knees apart, but resist with your hands so that they don’t open. Start slowly, building to your maximum effort.

Hands on hips, sit up as straight as possible and tip the hips forward and back (stretches and strengthens the lower back) and while tipping the hips backward (as if pressing the back against a wall) lift the tummy muscles all the way from the bottom of the belly upward and then squeeze the sides toward the middle.

With knees bent, push the feet hard against the floor (one at a time or both together) then relax, then lift the feet and straighten the legs. Repeat.

Wiggle your fingers quickly for a few seconds on both hands.

Then open and close your hands quickly, extending your fingers to the maximum and making a fist each time you close your hand.

Relax your hands and wrists and give them a good shake – as if you’ve just washed them then realized there is nothing to dry them on.

Stop shaking and gently bend and rotate your wrists through their full range of movement.

When we say the upper body, we’re talking arms, shoulders, chest and back.

• Raise both arms horizontally, out to your sides, shoulder height as if you were doing an impression of an aeroplane. Push out your arms in both directions, reaching as far out as physically possible, feeling the stretch across your back and chest.

• Relax from this stretch but keep your arms out straight and start to move them very slowly in small circles as if running your finger around the outside rim of a coin. Do ten small circles forward, then ten small circles backwards.
• Relax the arms and shake them off.

• Put both hands together as if you have just clapped, hold them out in front of you, elbows raised and push your hands together, tensing your arms, chest, shoulders and back for 10 seconds.

Neck and head
Okay, move your attention to your head and neck. Your neck and spine are very delicate and should only ever be exercised slowly and gently, and without tension, particularly when rotating the head in a circular motion. Never force movements, and don’t do anything that hurts.

Slowly drop your head forward, taking your chin toward your chest an inch or two for a few of seconds.

Bring your head back to its normal position then take it slowly backwards. Again, hold for a few seconds.

With the head tilted back, drop your mouth open and slowly close again, pushing the chin forward. Perform several times.

Bring head back to normal centre position, looking forward. Look to the left side, hold for a few seconds, then change to the right side and hold for a few seconds.

Bring your head back to its normal position, drop your chin an inch to the chest and slowly roll your head in a gentle, relaxed circular motion. Do this several times in both directions, slowly easing out any tensions and stiffness.

Shoulders and upper back (start with three and work up to ten):
Hands on hips, stretch by arching the back backward starting at the lower back moving up to the neck (flexibility) and roll down again

Hold up the head, roll the shoulder joints back by holding the elbows at the sides and bringing hands from the front (at waist level) to the sides.

Hold the arms straight out from the shoulders and/or up in the air and roll the hands forward and backward (helps prevent dislocation injuries) unless, of course, you’ve already got shoulder injuries.
This is a great article to come back to time and again. it reminds me that baby steps are important! Report
This sounds very good. But I have back problems & I can't do these things without a lot of pain.

I have decided to try to use CURVES for my exercise program along with routine walking using pedometer. Report
This is one of the best articles on the site. It really gave me some good ways to do a little bit of exercise that will help. Report
These are great suggestions. As Sparkpeople hopefully we realize that one size doesn't fit all. Even if you can not do all of the exercises maybe it will get you to start thinking about what you CAN do. That's what the "Spark" is all about! Report
Boy did I ever need to read this article, it makes me wonder if someone's been reading my mind, this is exactly what I needed! Report
I am very happy to have this article and the one it led me to - 7 Days to Jumpstart Your Fitness. It may be too much to start with and I may have to adapt it using the fitness resource but the idea has pulled me out of the doldrums I am currently in about exercising and made me think about just doing one moment at a time until it all seems easier. Thank you. Report
If you do all of these things except walk the dog, it's a 30 min work out once you feel like doing more but you are tired of your own exercise videos Report
I like the idea of a 'streak' competition! It helps create that habit of exercise everyone needs PLUS it encourages healthy competition and teamplaying among the family or office. Report
What a great article. I can relate to "Jane's" all or nothing mentality. These are easy to incorporate inbetween my daily to-do's. I save it! Report
I would caution people to ease into high impact exercise (light jog, jump rope). I don't have any physical issues and I need 5-10 minutes just to warm up my legs and ankle/knee joints before I can start jumping and hopping around.

For those who like exercise dvds, check out the 10 Minute Solution series. There are so many outstanding options. I have two of the workouts - Kettlebell Ultimate Fat Burner w/ Michele Olson and Rapid Results Pilates w/ Lara Hudson. Both are excellent. Report
This is a useful tip about starting a consistent exercise program. Just getting up and doing something breaks the inertia. Report
I can totally relate to "Jane's" all or nothing mentality. I tend to think that if I'm going to exercise I have to at least feel something from it! I joined the Quick Fire Challenge Spark Team which advocates this program of easy, do anywhere type of exercises, and it's a great concept but I am finding it difficult to get myself to think that little at a time does add up. I usually give myself a min. of 20-30min. for a workout in order for it to 'count' in my head. Report

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