12 ways to strengthen your body without work­ing out

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - JONATHAN BEV­ERLY Ro­dalewell­ness.com

More im­por­tant and more suc­cess­ful than adding el­e­ments to your work­out rou­tine is the process of in­te­grat­ing pos­ture, mo­bil­ity, and strength work into your every­day life. You can work on many of th­ese skills all day, ev­ery day.

Most of the stretches and ex­er­cises can be in­te­grated into your every­day life out­side of your reg­u­lar work­outs. Here are a few sug­ges­tions.

Bal­ance on one foot when brush­ing your teeth

One of the most com­mon sug­ges­tions seems al­most too easy. This time is al­ready sched­uled and you likely don’t need the mind space to fo­cus on the act of brush­ing.

Bal­ance on one foot while putting on your socks and shoes

Don’t sit. Stand and bal­ance on one leg while you reach for and pull on your sock, then your shoe. Stay bal­anced while you tie the laces. Then switch feet and re­peat. Al­ter­nate which foot you start with, so that each day you’re bal­anc­ing bare­foot on a dif­fer­ent side.

Do glute ex­er­cises as part of your morn­ing cof­fee or tea rou­tine

When I bought a hand-crank cof­fee grinder a few years ago, I started do­ing air squats dur­ing the time it took me to grind the beans. Now I can fin­ish 15 to 20 squats while crank­ing enough for an espresso. It was the first time I was ever that con­sis­tent, and it made a huge dif­fer­ence in my glute strength and ac­ti­va­tion. Now I can’t grind without do­ing squats. It’s part of the same ac­tion in my mind. Sit tall while driv­ing Even though you are driv­ing, you can work on pos­ture by sit­ting as tall as you can: Bring your chest and shoul­ders up, tighten your abs, and re­duce the curve of your spine. Pull your head back and high. Set your rearview mir­ror for this height — ev­ery time you slouch, it will re­mind you by be­ing out of line.

Pull your shoul­ders back and raise your head high when you see a cer­tain colour or walk through a door­way

Ath­letes as ex­cel­lent as world-cham­pion marathoner Mark Plaat­jes and Olympic medal­ist Deena Kas­tor use such mnemonic de­vices. Do ab con­trac­tions while driv­ing When you get bored on a long drive, try con­tract­ing your TA mus­cle (the in­ner ab­dom­i­nal one be­tween your hip bones) and hold­ing it tight as long as you can, tim­ing it with the dash­board clock.

Play with your bal­ance and hip pro­pri­o­cep­tion while stand­ing in line at the cof­fee shop

Or when you are wait­ing for the sub­way, stand­ing in line to board a plane, or wait­ing to or­der a sand­wich. Es­sen­tially, any time you are stand­ing, think about ro­tat­ing your hips so they aren’t spilling out the front and get­ting your bal­ance over your feet, not locked back on the heel. Do it dur­ing the na­tional an­them at your kid’s Lit­tle League or bas­ket­ball game. While you’re at it, stay stand­ing dur­ing the game if you can find an un­ob­tru­sive place, keep­ing good pos­ture for as long as you can.

Cue your glute ac­ti­va­tion when walk­ing the dog

Any time you’re walk­ing you can con­sciously ac­ti­vate your glutes. Get tall and clench your butt on each side with each stride, push­ing each leg back with a slightly ex­ag­ger­ated mo­tion and land­ing be­neath you, not reach­ing out in front.

Do hip ex­ten­sion stretches while work­ing on your com­puter

Just push the chair to the side and kneel on one knee in front of your desk. Get your hip ro­tated and hold it while you check email. Five min­utes per side goes quickly dur­ing the work­day. You can do it 2 or 3 times: in the morn­ing, af­ter lunch, and dur­ing your fi­nal few, last-check min­utes of the day.

Do a stand­ing hip stretch while on a con­fer­ence call

Lift one leg onto your chair, make your­self tall, and push for­ward on the sup­port­ing hip. No one can see you, and it doesn’t re­quire heavy breath­ing. Or bal­ance on al­ter­nat­ing legs — just make sure you don’t lose your bal­ance, fall, and make a crash.

Do stretches, bridges, or foot strength­en­ing while watch­ing TV or read­ing in the evening

It’s pri­vate, it’s down­time phys­i­cally — you can do just about any­thing you want — just get your butt off the couch. Squat when­ever you’d usu­ally bend Rather than bend­ing down from the waist, stick your butt out and lower into a squat when you’re weed­ing the gar­den or pet­ting your dog. Be care­ful to main­tain good form, with your knees never ex­tend­ing in front of your toes. Your knees should not hurt and you should not force a squat.


Any time you’re walk­ing, you can con­sciously ac­ti­vate your glutes.

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