About half of all Australians have a chronic disease, and around 20% of these people have at least two (multiple conditions) according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)*. These are shocking statistics!
Older people are more vulnerable to developing many diseases, and Australians' increasing life expectancy means a greater chance for multiple conditions to arise. Nearly 40% of Australians aged 45 and over have two or more of the eight chronic diseases examined. For this age group, the two most common chronic diseases to occur in combination with any other chronic disease were arthritis and cardiovascular disease.*
It doesn’t have to be this way. Health Care Professional’s have long known about the health benefits of regular exercise in the prevention of heart disease, obesity and other related health conditions. However with all the evidence supporting the benefits of exercising and the major role it plays in preventing chronic disease, over 70% of adults (almost 12 million Australians) don’t do enough physical activity to maintain good health.
The good news is recent studies have shown that by exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day you can reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases dramatically but also help you manage the symptoms.
The problem is many people who do exercise don’t exercise correctly or efficiently and as a result many muscles throughout your body are not engaged. It’s important that your workout includes exercises that engage multiple muscle groups through a range of body movements.
Today I would like to guide you through my 20-minute workout program that is suitable for all ages. It includes 8 easy Functional Bodyweight exercises that you can do every morning as soon as you get out of bed, either before or after a light breakfast.
The 8 Functional Bodyweight Exercises I will be covering today are:
Important Safety Tips
Before I start demonstrating these exercises I have some important information so please read carefully.
No 1 - If you have an existing health condition or injury you should talk to your health care professional before starting any exercise program.
No 2 - It’s important to start the workout at a moderate pace until your body warms up. Start by doing the first set of 8 exercises slowly and then increase your pace and intensity. This helps blood circulation and reduces your risk of injury.
No 3 – Always keep your abdominal muscles engaged during each exercise. I will be referring to these as CORE muscles throughout the workout. Our core muscles are important because they support our lower back.
No 4 – Remember to breathe during each exercise - take deep breaths when muscles are relaxed and exhale when engaged.
No 5 - If you have limited mobility, slow down your movements to a level where you feel comfortable.
No 6 - You will be doing 20 repetitions for each of the 8 exercises – 1 set. Repeat the 8 exercises without stopping for a minimum period of 20 minutes. Remember to take deep breaths during the workout.
No. 7 – If you haven’t exercised for years please start with completing 1 set for the first week, increase to 2 sets on the second, and continue adding 1 set every week until you reach a level of fitness that allows you to continue for 20 minutes without stopping.
No. 8 – If you are pregnant, always consult your Medical practitioner first before attempting to perform any of the exercises
Detailed overview of exercises
Squats are known as the king of all exercises because they work multiple muscle groups. They engage your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and your core muscles just to name a few. It’s important that you keep your arms out in front, back straight, chest lifted, chin up while doing a Squat. Start slowly and move into a full squat as your body warms up. If you have limited mobility or lower back pain and can’t do a full squat that’s ok, just squat down to a level that’s comfortable for you.
Lunges work your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves and core muscles. Like Squats, it’s important that you keep your back straight, chest and chin up while doing lunges. Try and get your knee as close to the floor as possible without touching. As you get stronger you can hold light dumbbells in each hand.
Dips work your triceps, shoulders and upper back. Using a strong and stable chair, sit on the edge with both feet together. Place your hands on the edge of the seat on either side of your thigh and keep your feet flat on the floor. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and lower yourself towards the floor. Chair Dips are challenging so take it nice and easy.
Crunches are great for strengthening your core muscles. Lying back on the floor with knees bent, place your hands crossed over the chest and move forward by curling your shoulders towards your pelvis. Do these slowing without lifting your shoulders too far off the ground. For maximum results always keep your core muscles engaged.
Glute Bridge strengthens and tightens your backside so it’s a great exercise for that dream bum. Start by lying face up on the floor with arms to the side, palms down, knees bent, and heels on the ground. Lift your hips off the ground until knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line making sure to squeeze your glutes as you reach the top of the movement.
Avoid pushing your hips too high. All of your weight should be balanced between your shoulders and your feet. Hold for 3 seconds, and then slowly lower your hips back down slightly touching the ground before repeating the rep.
Plank Pulse is a great exercise for strengthening and defining your core muscles. The correct way to do a Plank Pulse is up on your toes with both elbows inline with your shoulders so your chin is in line with your thumbs.
Keeping your back and head straight, slowly pulse forward until your chin is in line with the end of your finger tips and then pulse back in the start position. Repeat this 20 times. For beginners start on your knees until you are strong enough to do them on your toes.
Mountain climbers are a great total body exercise. They work multiple muscles, your legs, arms, core, shoulders, glutes as well as giving you a great cardio workout. Get in the plank position, arms fully extended and feet apart.
Once you are aligned in the plank position, draw your right knee into your chest without your right foot touching the floor and then extend back into plank position. Repeat the same movement with your left leg and continue alternating until you complete 20 reps on each leg. Accelerating the speed of these movements increases your heart rate and burns more calories.
Push ups also work multiple muscles; pectoral muscles, core, shoulders, triceps and deltoids. Lying face down on the ground, lift on your toes and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width with fingers facing forward.
While keeping your body straight, lower your body to the ground by bending arms at the elbows. Raise your body up off the ground by extending the arms. Repeat 20 times. If you cant do push ups on your toes it's ok to do them on your knees until you get stronger.
That’s it. You are done. By now you should be sweating, if not you have not worked hard enough. Remember - Sweat is fat crying!
Cooling Down and Stretching
It’s important to take 5 minutes to cool down by stretching before taking a shower or having breakfast. There are many websites that demonstrate good stretching techniques so please adopt one that suits you.
Please try and follow my 20-minute functional, bodyweight workout 6 days week and after a few weeks I promise you will feel fantastic, probably the best you have felt in years. After a few days you have more energy, be less stressed, sleep better, and be ready to start your day in a positive frame of mind.
I’m over 60 and I can honestly say that I feel more alert, vibrant and enthusiastic about life today than I did in my early twenties. I’m a good example that if you embrace the principles of natural living you can live a long, healthy and vibrant life.
If you make time for good health, you will always have enough health for a good time!
Yours in vibrant health,
Founder of Caruso’s Natural Health