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Inflammation-Reducing Exercises for Any Age and Fitness Level

"Even moderate exercise—just getting your heart beating faster, and stimulating your sweat glands for a few minutes every day—is extremely healthy."

Today's live with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD is about the power of the exercise to help lower inflammation in your body.

This is Part 1 in Dr. Nancy's exercise series for people who are less mobile. All the exercises can be done sitting or next to a chair, regardless of fitness level. These movements great for seniors, or anyone just getting started on their fitness journey. Watch Dr. Nancy demonstrate each exercise.

Video Highlights

  • 01:47: The importance of exercise for your health
  • 03:05: Even moderate daily exercise is extremely healthy
  • 04:08: Tummy-trimming chair situps
  • 05:21: Situp demonstration
  • 06:34: Seated leg lifts
  • 07:58: Trunk twists
  • 09:05: Overhead arm raises
  • 10:51: Thigh toner
  • 11:55: Modified thigh toner
  • 12:51: Sit-to-stand
  • 14:51: Squats demonstration
  • 17:08: Rubber band exercise 1: pull apart
  • 17:39: Rubber band exercise 2: sit and row
  • 18:20: Rubber band exercise 3: squat-walk with resistance
  • 19:04: Exercise should be fun
  • 21:45: Tips for aching knees

Why is Exercise Important?

We have always stressed the importance of regular exercise for your general health, and to boost the immune system and help reduce inflammation in the body. But many of you have told us that it's way too hard to get to a physical gym, or you don't have a bike to ride at home, or you are dealing with limited mobility or pain for one reason or another. This video is for you! In fact, even if it’s not for you, bookmark it and pass it on to friends and loved ones who might need it.

Dr. Nancy has prepared some very simple and effective exercises that you can do, most while sitting in a chair or on your sofa. But before we get to that, let’s review one more time all the wonderful benefits that exercise can bring to you.

The bottom line is, movement and activity of any kind are very important to your health. We are meant to move our bodies. They aren’t designed to sit in front of a computer or screen for long periods of time. Exercise can improve your flexibility, which tends to decrease as we age, especially if we’re living a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise also gets our circulation and blood moving and increases the supply of oxygen and other vital nutrients your blood carries to your muscles. It supports joint health, and even helps your brain function better. That’s one of the reasons you feel so much better after you take a long walk, or move your body in some other way.

Then there are the cardiovascular benefits! Even moderate exercise — just getting your heart beating faster, and stimulating your sweat glands for a few minutes every day — is extremely healthy. And of course resistance exercise and strength training provides a great benefit to your muscles. This includes any type of resistance exercise; even something as simple as using a stretchy sports band, which you can buy inexpensively at any sporting goods store, will be effective! It will stimulate your muscles, making you stronger and more toned. As we age we tend to lose lean muscle and strength pretty fast if we don't work our muscles. That’s why the exercises in this video can really help you.

Simple, Modified Exercises for those with limited mobility

Tummy-trimming chair sit-ups

To do this exercise, sit down in a chair, and slide your bottom towards the front edge of your seat. Then lean back, until the back of your shoulders are touching the back of the chair. Pull your knees together until they are touching. For support, you can grab and arms of the chair, and then, still squeezing your knees together, slowly raise them, and then put them back down. Try to do this for 2 - 3 minutes. Breathe in as you lift your legs, and exhale as you bring the bottoms of your feet back down to touch lightly before bringing them back up. Do two or three sets of these. Each 2 - 3 minutes is a set, so do this a few times. No matter what your fitness level is, you will notice your heart pounding a little faster and harder.

If you find this too easy and want to make it a little harder, try elongating your legs and balancing on your sit bone, keeping your back flat and straight.

Leg lifts

Start off sitting in your chair with your legs extended and your knees together. Then pull your knees up to your chest, and slowly extend them back out to the straight position. If you want, you can add more resistance by putting your hands on your legs. This will make you stronger, as you use your abdominal muscles to resist the downward pressure of your arms. If possible, do enough reps and sets to cause your heart to beat faster.

Trunk twists

For these, sit on a chair or on your couch. Again, move forward to the edge, and keep your spine long and straight. As you exhale, turn, or twist your body from left to right, as far as you comfortably can. Imagine touching your shoulder against the opposite side of the chair or couch. You may not be able to do that, but simply move your body as if that were your ultimate goal. Do 2 - 3 sets of ten. If you feel you want to, pause as you get to each side of your range of motion. This exercise lubricates and massages your spine, which is vital to the health of your whole entire body.

Overhead Arm Raises

This one will not be as easy as it seems, but it will definitely get you stronger no matter what your fitness levels. While you're seated, raise your arms up above your head. You can interlace your hands, but if you have shoulder problems, your hands don't have to touch. Keep your arms straight as much as you can. This is going to get more blood flowing between your shoulder blades and increase the flexibility of your shoulders. Inhale and hold your position. Breathe, and pretend you're shooting lightning bolts out of your fingers, reaching all the way up to get the most reach, and dropping your shoulders. Then relax, and as you inhale, repeat. Do this about ten times if you can.

Thigh toner

Sitting in your chair or on your couch with knees together and feet on the floor, place your hands on the outer parts of your knees. Then slowly open your knees. Use your arms to apply pressure and resistance, while your knees resist the pressure of your arms. The more often you do this, the stronger your biceps and shoulders will be. You can also do this in reverse, starting with your thighs apart, and placing your hands on the inner part of your legs. Then try to bring your knees together, while resisting with your arms. This activates your shoulders, deltoids, and inner thigh.

Sit to Stand

This is great for your legs as well as a great cardio workout. Get in front of a chair, then slowly lower yourself into it, keeping your torso straight (not leaning forward). Pause, right before you reach the sitting position, feel your thigh activating, and tilt your pelvis forward. Once you’ve reached the sitting position, stand back up, keeping your torso straight. Repeat about ten times, then rest. Make sure you’re breathing intentionally as you do this. Once you’re able to do this ten times and are feeling strong, try it with a lower chair.

Eventually, you may be able to do this without a chair, lowering yourself into a full squat. You can also perform squats standing behind a chair with your hands on the chair for better stability and balance.

Rubber band exercises

You can purchase a rubber resistance band really inexpensively at nearly any sporting goods store, and do a wide variety of exercises with it, such as the following:

1. Simply pull it apart with both your hands, hold for 3 seconds, then rest. As you pull apart, expand your chest and keep your back flat. You’re tightening your core every time you do this, and strengthening it.

2. While seated, loop the rubber band around your feet, holding onto it with your hands. Then elongate your legs, and for each rep, use your arms to “row”, pulling back toward your body. Then relax, pause, and pull again. Make sure you keep your back as straight as possible.

3. While standing, put the band around your legs above the knees, then open up your legs, squat slightly, and walk two steps to the right, then two to the left. Keep your legs apart, pressing against the resistance of the band as you walk. You can also walk forwards and backwards, or simply open and close your legs against the band.

    These exercises should get you started on strengthening your core and muscles, while lowering your inflammatory load. Try adding music you like while you do these, and have fun! Exercise should be something you love doing, not a chore.

    Bonus tip: If any of these exercises result in a sharp pain, don’t do them. If you are nursing an aching knee, be careful not to go too low with squats, and make sure you’re focusing on exercise that strengthens your hamstrings and quadriceps. 

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