What Gentle Exercises Are Perfect to Do at Home?
According to the CDC, 25% of adults in the U.S. are physically inactive.
A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to serious health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer, and 25% of adults in the U.S. are physically inactive, according to a 2022 report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Physical activity can improve sleeping patterns, general wellness and reduce the risk for chronic disease, according to health.gov’s Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans. The CDC notes adults need 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
Mike Eskay, a physical therapist with UPMC Sports Medicine, says anytime you want to make changes to your body, “you need to challenge yourself to increase strength and endurance.”
“That doesn’t mean you have to jump off the couch and run a 5K,” he adds. “You should challenge yourself, but also listen to your body so you aren’t over fatigued or causing yourself pain; let your symptoms guide you through the process.”
Eskay notes walking is a great gentle exercise that can be done at home to help build endurance.
Basic stretches are also helpful in getting the ball rolling.
Anna Kestler, fitness and lifestyle coach with SWEAT Pgh and a contributor to BeWell, says the following stretches can do wonders in getting people moving.
- Seated Spinal Twist
- Supine Twist
- Seated Arm Reaches (great for lengthening side body)
- Ear to Shoulder (neck stretches)
- Overhead Arm Reach to Sky
Eskay says if a person sits a lot, their hamstrings can shorten.
“You can use items you have on hand, like a belt or leash, to pull your toes up to get a deeper stretch,” he adds.
Other exercises to improve strength and balance include basic squats, heel raises and marching in place.
“If those seem out of reach for your ability level, you can do isometric exercises while sitting,” he says. “For instance, you can tighten your thigh or glute muscles while sitting and hold it for 5 or 10 seconds. You can do this periodically throughout the day, like when a commercial comes on television.”
If you cannot stand, you can press your arms down onto your chair’s armrests to improve your triceps and shoulder strength. Light weights can also be helpful in improving upper body strength. Eskay says common pantry items like cans of vegetables or a bag of rice can replace dumbbells.
He suggests consulting with a medical professional to recommend the proper exercises for your care.
“We are always more than happy to evaluate someone and come up with a treatment plan,” he adds.