Employee & Community Health

New Year, new workout

2/28/2019 by Sara Mansfield, MS

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Looking for a new way to work fitness into your schedule? With just 15 minutes, a stability ball, yoga mat (optional) and four sets of basic exercises, you can strengthen the core muscles of your back, abdomen and pelvis. Core exercises: 

  • Improve your balance and stability.
  • Help strengthen and activate your abdominal muscles to improve posture, reduce lower back pain and protect against muscle injuries. 
  • Make it easier to do other activities such as swing a golf club, reach for a glass in the cupboard or bend over to fasten your shoes. 
  • Reduce fatigue and increase endurance for athletes. 

And they don't require special equipment or even a visit to the gym. You can find stability balls and yoga mats at discount and drug stores and online. If you do work out at a gym or fitness center, most have balls and mats for you to use. You can even use one at your workspace to keep those muscles active even when you aren't "working out". 

Ready to start a new workout for the New Year? Let's go!

#1: Quadraped

  1. QuadripedQuadripedArmOnlyQuadripedLegOnlyLie on your stomach on a stability ball with your hands and feet on the floor. 
  2. Keeping your shoulders directly above your wrists, at the same time extend your right leg up to hip height and your left arm out in front to shoulder height. Hold for five seconds. Tip: Keep your shoulders and torso level with the floor. 
  3. Return to neutral position.
  4. Repeat with left leg. 
  5. Continue alternating legs 10 to 15 times (repetitions). Tip: If this is too difficult, raise just your arm or leg. 

#2: Bridge

  1. BridgeBridgeBentLegBridgeStraightLegBegin by lying on your back with your legs straight, heels on the ball and your arms resting on the ground by your sides. 
  2. Tighten your abdominals and lift your hips off the ground until your body is in a straight line. Hold, then lower yourself back to the ground and repeat. Tip: Make sure to keep your abdominals tight and don't let your hips rotate to either side during the exercise. 
  3. Continue for 10 to 15 repetitions.  

#3: Seated Balance

  1. SeatedBalanceSit on your stability ball with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Extend your left leg straight in front of you 8 to 10 inches off the ground. 
  3. With your leg extended, bring your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor. 
  4. Hold this position for five seconds, sitting tall and tightening your core. 
  5. Return to neutral position.
  6. Repeat with your right leg. 
  7. Alternate legs for 10 to 15 repetitions. 

#4: Praying Mantis

  1. PrayingMantis2PrayingMantis1Begin by kneeling with your hands clasped together, resting on the ball. (If necessary, kneel on a pad or towel for extra cushion). 
  2. Tighten your abdominals and slowly roll your arms forward on the ball, then bring yourself back to the starting position and repeat. Tip: Be sure to keep your back straight during the exercise and your knees in the same place as you roll forward. 
Sara Mansfield, MS, is a wellness exercise specialist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester. Her interests include functional movement and behavioral modification to help others incorporate accessible, healthy behaviors into their lifestyle.