Sunday, December 6, 2009

Exercises To Do In The Morning To Start Your Day

Pilates Exercises. Why? Pilates builds your core strength, which is extremely important. Core strength has to do with strengthening and lengthening your spine. That's right, Pilates can actually make you grow taller, because the types of exercises used in Pilates create long, lean muscle, rather than bulkier muscle mass.

Exercise 1: Arm Reach and Pull
This is a great warm-up exercise which creates shoulder stability. You will begin standing up perfectly straight, then reach your arms out in front of you so that they become parallel with the floor, keeping your shoulders relaxed down and your arms coming straight out from your shoulders. Breathe in and out, each time further relaxing your shoulders down while maintaining your posture. This is a great move to get you started with your Pilates exercise routine and you can repeat three to five times. Great posture is essential to all Pilates moves and is ultimately the result of following a Pilates exercise routine.

Exercise 2: The Plank
In this exercise, you want to form yourself in a push up position, being sure that you are a straight line from your neck to your feet. Your arms should be a straight line from your shoulder to the floor and your feet shouldn't be flat--you should be on your toes.
Holding yourself in this position for one minute a day helps create stability and build core strength. With no prior training, this exercise can be difficult. Work your way up to the full minute by starting with 10-15 second planks at first. If even this is causing too much upper body strain, try the modified plank by coming down to your elbows rather than your hands.

Exercise 3: One Leg Teaser
This is a little more difficult, but is designed to flatten your abs!

  • Begin by lying flat on your back, with your hands at your sides, palms up, and your legs bent at 45 degrees with feet flat on your mat. 
  • Raise one leg off the mat, creating a straight line without moving your knees. 
  • Tuck your chin to your chest and begin reaching for extended foot, slowly; maintaining your balance and posture. 
  • Remember to use your core muscles, this exercise is not led by upper body strength. (If you have trouble finding your core, take a deep breath in and exhale fully, bringing your belly button toward your spine and holding it there. 
  • Maintain this throughout all Pilates exercises, or you will not see the benefits.) When you reach your arms to the tip of your toes, pause, then roll back down, slowly, ending where you started, with your hands over your head. 
  • Repeat five times on each leg.
For beginners, leave both feet on the mat. Roll up and tap your knees, pause, then roll back to start position. It can take several weeks before you will be ready to try the full teaser exercise.

Note: In Pilates, some of the best results come from stretching out your muscles after working them. When your muscles are heated up, stretching them will result in much greater flexibility. So, in between workouts, lie flat on your back and form a straight line with your body, from the tips of your fingers to the end of your toes and feel yourself getting a great stretch!

 Stability Ball Exercises. Why? Because to be quite honest, the stability ball is a ton of fun. Working out feels more like playing when you were a kid.

Exercise 1: Hip Extension 
 Lie down on the ground and put your heels on top of the ball, at hip width apart. Slowly raise your hips off the ground to form a straight line, leaving your arms lying flat on the floor. Hold yourself in this position and feel your muscles working. Then, lower and repeat five times. If you feel confident, you can start raising one leg at a time off the stability ball, balancing with only one heel for support on the ball.

Exercise 2: Exercise Ball Crunch
 Lean your mid to lower back on the ball and put your hands behind your head (fingertips lightly touching your head--your arms should not be doing the work in this exercise), and pull your body forward, using your abs, into a crunch. Try to be sure you are in the center of the ball and keep the ball stable. Repeat ten reps of ten.

Exercise 3: Bouncing!

Sit with your butt on the very middle of the ball. Be sure you feel stable and the ball isn't leaning toward one side. Put your arms straight out in front off you, and your legs hip width apart, feet flat on the floor. Begin bouncing slowly without moving your leg positioning. After feeling out and being sure you have good balance, start opening and closing your legs at each alternating bounce. Continue this exercise for one minute, or a little longer if you're having too much fun to stop!
Enjoy these exercises every morning you can! Remember, results don't come immediately, but they will come.

By Jessica Dolese

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