Posted on 15 January 2012
Confined to bed or just like to wait a while before your day starts? Try these exercises to keep your muscles active and your endorphins firing.
Words Helen Wills Illustrations Karl Mostert
Alternate ankle and wrist strengthener
Lie on your back, lift your right leg and stretch it out, flexing the ankle. Rotate the ankle in big circles with pointed toes for 10 revolutions in both directions. Repeat on left side. Then lift your right arm and stretch the palm away with a flexed wrist. Rotate the wrist in both directions for 10 circles, and repeat with the other arm. Progress by lifting all four limbs at the same time. This can be fun and a challenge. Make sure to keep your lower back in a safe, flat position and do the movements slowly.
Benefits: Keeps joints flexible, tones and stretches the spine and pelvis, and improves blood flow.
Open-leg spinal twist
Lie on your back and draw your left leg up towards your chest, then twist it across your body, holding it down with your right hand. Keep your left shoulder close to the bed and look over the left shoulder. Repeat with right leg.
Benefits: Stretches your spine and shoulders, massages abdominal organs and relieves lower backache and sciatica.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet slightly apart and arms straight at your sides. Tighten your buttock muscles as you lift your pelvis toward the ceiling as far as is comfortable. Breathe in deeply as you lift, and breathe out as you lower. Repeat eight times.
Benefits: Reduces the risk of blood clots in the legs, improves flexibility in your neck and shoulders, relieves lower-back pain and aids digestion.
Elbow-to-knee core strengthener
Lie on your back, raise your knees and, using your core, lift your upper body toward them. Bend your arms so your elbows point at your knees. Bring your left elbow toward your right knee, then return to the starting position. Then bring your right elbow toward your left knee, maintaining a continuous pumping motion. Repeat six times.
Benefits: Strengthens abdominal muscles, increases heart rate and improves heart-muscle strength.
Lie on your stomach with your elbows bent and your palms flat on the bed under your shoulders. Breathe in and suck your tummy towards your spine and then slowly straighten your arms to lift your upper body so that it curves into a cobra-like position. Hold for a few seconds, then breathe out as you lower yourself back onto the bed. Repeat five times. Be mindful of your lower back.
Benefits: Improves posture, stimulates circulation and digestion, builds upper-body strength, and energises the mind.
This pelvic-floor exercise, also known as the knyp, is an easy but subtle exercise. On your back, contract and relax the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor (the muscles you would pinch to stop urinating mid-stream). Hold for as long as possible and then release. Repeat 10 times.
Benefits: Improves muscle tone, helps prevent uterine prolapse, and also helps men to combat premature ejaculation.
Get the most out of your exercise by following these simple guidelines…
• If you’re recovering from an illness, or have a weak abdominal core or back, check with your doctor before trying these exercises.
• Drink plenty of water while exercising to avoid dehydration.
• Gently stretch for 60 seconds before and after exercising to avoid hurting your muscles.