On Your Health

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Simple At-Home Exercises to Improve Your Fitness

by Elizabeth Bluebird, physical therapist with INTEGRIS Home Care

Being physically active not only helps your overall health, it can also speed up your recovery if you should need surgery or come down with an illness. Elizabeth Bluebird, a physical therapist with INTEGRIS Home Care, shares some simple at-home exercises, which you can do even while watching TV, to help improve your fitness level.

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Bluebird and I'm a physical therapist with INTEGRIS Home Care.

In my 25-plus years as a physical therapist, I have often noticed that the more active a person is prior to an illness or surgery, the faster their recovery and the better the outcomes. This is especially true as we age, for as we go over that proverbial hill, our strength and our balance also begins to decline.

As a home health therapist, I want to show you some ways to improve that at your own home.

First of all, your library has dozens of exercise videos available for you to check out, addressing not also cardio and strengthening, but some specialized ones for balance and even tai chi, for tai chi has been shown to help reduce the risk of falls. If you're not comfortable exercising with videos, that's okay.

If you're a couch potato, let me show you some ways that you can improve too. Next to your remote control, keep a set of hand weights. If you don't have hand weights, that's okay. Go to the kitchen, grab a pair of soup cans or you can even use water bottles.

Once that commercial comes on, instead of grabbing that remote, grab the water bottles and do some bicep curls. You can bring those weights on up and do some tricep extension or bring it out and do some overhead presses, nice, slow and controlled. These are great ways to exercise your arms, but we also want to do some strengthening for your legs.

One of the best exercise for your legs is actually just standing up and sitting back down. Try not to use your hands to push up from the chair, but use your leg muscles. As you do two or three of these chair squats, you'll begin to notice the burn in your thighs and your buttocks.

Strengthening is not enough though. You also want to work your balance, so stand next to that chair and go up on your toes, raising those heels nice and slow. You can also march in place or even practice standing on one leg. If you don't feel comfortable holding onto the chair, do it at the kitchen sink.

Last but not least, go for a walk. Do two or three laps through your house, for studies have shown that even short bursts of physical activity can help improve your health.

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