One Thing You Can Do to Practice a Higher Level of Self-Care
Learning to handle your own body weight is the first step to improving the way you move in daily life. Develop skill in performing four simple movements that will improve your strength, posture and body mechanics. The "4 for Life" are four functional exercises that you can do any time, anywhere, no equipment required. They are the squat, push-up, back extension and pelvic tilt. If I were to recommend one exercise for life, it would be the squat. It's a very functional movement, the one we need to get up from a seated position, and it creates stability in the large muscles of the legs. Not to mention that it is one of the best shaping exercises for the bottom line!
The push up targets three muscles of the upper body - the chest, shoulders and triceps - in one move. There are many variations, all of which help firm the triceps in the back of the upper arm and are weight-bearing through the arms and wrists. The core muscles of the abdominals and back are active in stabilizing the torso. The level of difficulty is determined by how much weight you shift onto your upper body.
For the core body, the pelvic tilt engages the deep abdominal muscle that acts like a natural corset when it is toned, flattening the belly, narrowing the waist and supporting the low back. When you combine the abdominal compression with a slight rotation of the hips, you also stretch the low back.
To balance out the core body work and work the opposing muscles, the back extension triggers the muscles that run along the length of the spine, strengthening it and lengthening it. It's a great exercise for posture because as you go into a very mild back bend, you reverse the forward posture of most of our daily activities - working at a desk, doing housework, driving a car, etc.
The "4 for Life" exercises work the major muscle groups of the legs, upper body and core in an integrated way. Together they create a mini full-body conditioning workout that can be done in a few minutes, anytime, anywhere using just your own body weight. Even if you never do another exercise, your body will benefit from doing the "4 for Life" regularly.
Next week, we'll explore the mechanics of doing a proper squat.