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Fitness Exercises

Introduction to Fitness and Physical Activity

Physical activity simply means movement of the body that uses energy. The CDC recommends that adults get:

  • Two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week OR
  • One hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week.
  • In addition, muscle strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups should be done two or more days a week.

Examples of Moderate Physical Activity

  • Walking briskly (about 3 ½ mph)
  • Bicycling (less than 10 mph)
  • General gardening (raking, trimming shrubs)
  • Dancing
  • Golf (walking and carrying clubs)
  • Water aerobics
  • Canoeing

Examples of Muscle Strengthening Exercises

  • Lifting weights
  • Working with resistance bands
  • Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance (e.g., pushups, sit-ups)
  • Heavy gardening (e.g., digging, shoveling)
  • Yoga

Examples of Vigorous Physical Activity

  • Running/jogging (5 mph)
  • Walking very fast (4 ½ mph)
  • Bicycling (more than 10 mph)
  • Heavy yard work, such as chopping wood
  • Swimming (freestyle laps)
  • Aerobics
  • Basketball (competitive)
  • Tennis (singles and doubles)

Examples of Exercises at Each Level

Cardio Exercise 1

  • Beginner: Walking (slow or leisurely)
  • Intermediate: Briskly walking (3-4 mph)
  • Advanced: Fast walking (4.5+ mph) or jogging/running (5-7mph)

Cardio Exercise 2

  • Beginner/Intermediate: Bicycling (10-12 mph)
  • Advanced: Bicycling (12-16 mph)

Cardio Exercise 3

  • Beginner/Intermediate: Shooting around with basketball (10-12 mph)
  • Advanced: Basketball game (12-16 mph)

Strength Exercise 1 (Upper Extremity)

  • Beginner: Wall pushups – Facing a wall, lean your body forward and place your palms flat against the wall at shoulder-width apart. Bend forward at the elbow towards the wall, and slowly push up.
  • Intermediate: Pushups – Lie face down with palms on the floor, pushing the body up and down with the arms.
  • Advanced: Bench press – Lie on a bench with your feet supporting either side. Grasp the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar off the rack and slowly lower the weight to your chest, then press it back up.

Strength Exercise 2 (Lower Extremity)

  • Beginner: Squats – Stand with feet hip-distance apart facing forward. Lower your body until your knees are bent to 90 degrees, then lift yourself back up by straightening your knees (initially done with body weight or light dumbbells in each hand).  Keep the front knee over the ankle so knees do not move past toes.
  • Intermediate: Back squats – With barbell resting comfortably on your back just above your shoulder blades, perform a squat (described above in the beginner section).
  •  Advanced: Split squats – With one foot resting on a bench behind you and dumbbells in each hand, slowly lower yourself to the ground by bending your front leg. Then extend leg and return to starting position.

Strength Exercise 3 (Core)

  • Beginner: Abdominal curls (crunches) – Lie on the floor or a mat on your back, with knees bent and hands behind head. Feet should be flat on the ground. Keep a space between your chin and chest. Raise your chest until your shoulder blades lift off the floor. Slowly lower back to the floor.
  • Intermediate: Medicine ball crunches – Hold a medicine ball (or dumbbell) and lie flat on your back with knees bent, legs hip-width apart, abs engaged and arms extended straight up toward the ceiling. Use your abs to “crunch” up by lifting your head, neck and shoulder blades off the mat. Slowly return to the mat to complete one rep.
  • Advanced: Bicycle crunches – Begin by lying on your back, placing your hands behind your ears. Do not clasp your hands behind your head. Lift your legs in the air and bend your knees so that your legs form a 90 degree angle. Move your legs in a bicycle motion. When your left knee is closer to your body, reach your right elbow to it. When your right knee is closer to your body, reach your left elbow to it. Try performing the exercise for 60 seconds in two sets.

Flexibility Exercise 1 (Upper Extremity)

Shoulder and chest: This can be performed kneeling or standing. Clasp hands behind back and straighten arms. Raise hands as high as possible and bend forward from the waist and hold.

Flexibility Exercise 2 (Lower Extremity)

Quadriceps stretch: Stand next to a sturdy chair with feet shoulder-width apart. Stand upright and keep your left leg straight. Bend your right leg back and grasp your right ankle in your right hand until your thigh is perpendicular to the ground. Hold for 20-30 seconds, and release. Repeat with the other leg.

Flexibility Exercise 3 (Core)

Standing side bend: Lift rib cage up off the pelvis by elongating your lower back, and lean directly to the right, bringing arms, head and torso to the left. Return to neutral position and repeat in the other direction. Hold for 3-5 breaths each.