Strengthening Exercises

Muscle in the human body is very important for metabolism. Each time you move your arm, or blink your eye, or tap your leg, you are moving a muscle. This is important to know because each time the muscle moves it shreds the muscle fibers slightly, breaking them down slowly, and thus using some energy (sugar). At night when you sleep, and also when at rest, your body must regenerate these muscles, which takes even more energy (more sugar). Your muscles are constantly renewing and regenerating themselves, replacing old muscle with new.

We get new building blocks for muscle from the protein we get from the diet (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, nuts, and beans), but the process of building and replacing muscle takes a lot of energy, in the form of sugar (the carbohydrates that we eat). The more muscle you try to build, the more sugar and protein your body uses to gain more muscle. To maintain that muscle that you built, your muscles then demand more sugar, pulling it out of the blood, making your body more efficient at glucose absorption, and thus lowering glucose.

Walking, for example will lower your blood sugars for a few hours after you've finished the activity. Since it works mostly the heart, people that walk regularly are helping the health of their heart, but generally not building new muscle. Building new muscle, however, like with strengthening exercises, will help lower blood sugars more slowly but the effects last for 36-48 hours.

So even if you have limited mobility, time, money, or space, here are some exercises that you can do at home to isolate and strengthen different muscle groups. These exercises below are called isometric exercises, because they are static. The goal with these exercises is to hold a position without moving for as long as you can. This is a great way of building muscle.

Exercises to Strengthen Shoulders:

Target Rotor cuffs, lats, triceps, and biceps. Starting Position Hold 2­-pound dumbbells in your hands and lift them till the shoulder level. Flex your elbows so that your forearms and upper arms are at 90 degrees with each other. Steps To Do Start pressing one arm by steadily extending your arm and then bring it back to the starting position. The other arm will remain static. Do the same with the other arm. Precaution Maintain the 90-degree angle on the lower arm to not stress the forearm. If using weights is too tough, then try just with a closed fist, or use a water bottle or lighter weights.
Target: Anterior deltoid, trapezius muscles, lats, and the supraspinatus (upper middle back).
Starting Position: Hold the dumbbells, one in each hand, and look straight ahead.
Steps To Do
Do not bend your elbows. Raise your shoulders and hold for 10-15 seconds.
Bring your hands down and relax.
Precaution: Avoid doing this exercise if you have a previous shoulder injury.
Target: Shoulders, back, forearms, and upper arms.
Starting Position: Stand upright with your elbow flexed at 90 degrees. Place a folded towel between your arm and the wall.
Steps To Do
Push your arm into the wall as if you are rotating your forearm outward, keeping your elbow tucked to your side.
Relax and repeat.
Precaution: Make sure to keep your back straight during the exercise.
Target: Biceps, triceps, shoulders, lats, and chest.
Starting Position: Place your hands on the wall, shoulder-width apart.
Steps To Do
Lean on the wall, supporting your body on your toes, and keep your palms on the wall.
Push as hard as you can.
Keep pushing with the same force for 15 seconds. Relax.
Precaution: Keep your back straight while doing this exercise.
Target: Biceps
Starting Position: Take a long towel and hold both its ends in your hands. Hold the lower portion of the towel with one of your feet.
Steps To Do:
Try pulling up the towel. You will feel the stretch in your arms.
Hold it for 3 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.
Precaution: Keep your back straight and flex your knees slightly while doing this exercise.

Exercises to Strengthen the Legs and lower Back:

Target: Hamstrings, quads, calves, and lower back.
Starting Position: Stand with your back against a wall.
Steps To Do:
Flex your knees and lower your body as you would while squatting.
Hold the position for 5-7 seconds and release.
Repeat this 10 times. Increase the hold time gradually.
Precaution: Make sure you keep your back against the wall at all times to not stress your back.
Target: Quadriceps or the front of your thighs.
Starting Position: Lie down flat on your back. Keep one leg straight and one knee flexed, and the foot flat on the ground. Keep a rolled towel or a cushion underneath your straight leg’s knee.
Steps To Do:
Once you rest your knee, raise it to form a bend and hold for 5 seconds.
Rest it back on the cushion and repeat the procedure with the other knee.
Do this for each knee with at least 15 repetitions each.
Precaution: Lie down on a flat and sturdy surface.
Target: Calves, glutes, and arms.
Starting Position: Stand straight and hold a dumbbell in each hand by your side with the arms straight.
Steps To Do:
Raise your heels off the floor and balance yourself on the balls of your feet.
Hold for 10 seconds.
Another version is to continue doing calf raises while holding the weight in your hands.
Precaution: Use weights that are not too light or too heavy.
Target: Quads, hamstrings. lower back, and glutes.
Starting Position: Stand with all the muscles in your body tensed, your core tight, and shoulders back.
Steps To Do:
Split and take your left leg back in a lunge.
Lower yourself into as deep a lunge as you can without touching your bent knee to the ground. Ideally, lower yourself until you are just inches above the ground.
Hold this pose for 10 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
To intensify the exercise, grab a heavy dumbbell in each hand.
Precaution: Do not try to overtrain. Always build the strength gradually to avoid injuries.
Target: Adductors, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and lower back.
Starting Position: Stand straight with your legs shoulder-width apart.
Steps To Do:
For a mid-squat hold, lower yourself into a squat and stop when you reach about the middle of your length as if you are sitting on a chair. Hold yourself in the pose for 10 seconds.
For a deep squat, lower yourself into a complete squat to the ground with your knees up to your chest and your butt inches off the floor. Hold the pose for 15 seconds.
Precaution: When you squat, make sure your back is straight and your knees do not overshoot your feet.

Exercises for the Neck:

Target: Neck muscles
Starting Position: Place both your palms on your forehead and stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
Steps To Do:
Push your forehead towards your palms and use them to resist that force. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions.
Put your hands behind your head. Push your head towards your hands and vice versa. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions.
Strengthening the sides of the neck: Put your right hand on the right side of your head. Push your head towards your hand and vice versa. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions. Do it for the left side as well.
Put your right palm on the sides of your cheeks. Push your hands inwards and use your face to resist that force. Hold it for 5-8 seconds for 3 repetitions. Repeat steps on the left side also.
Precaution: Avoid hurting yourself by pressing your head too hard. This exercise can also be done in the car on-the-go by pressing your head against the back of the car seat gently and doing the hold. This exercise is great for people with degenerative discs or arthritis in the in the neck.

Benefits Of Isometric Exercises

Practicing isometric exercises offers various benefits to your body:
  • Help in strengthening and conditioning the muscles.
  • Strengthen the dormant muscle tissues on isolated muscles.
  • Improve one’s control over the body.
  • Improve body posture and spine alignment.
  • Help prevent injury.
  • These exercises are used in injury rehabilitation.
  • Help in the development of lean muscles.
  • Improve bone density and make them strong.
  • Increase resistance power and endurance ability.
  • Activate all the major units in the body.
  • Can be done anywhere and anytime.
  • Most isometric exercises do not require any equipment, or at the most, a set of dumbbells is enough.
  • Help in graceful aging, keeping the body posture straight and erect even in old age.
  • Can also be done by the elderly and are considered good for them.

Tips

  • Studies show that isometric exercises decrease muscle elasticity and speed of movement. But actually, it happens only when you do excessive isometric exercises without doing other forms of exercises required by the body.
  • Isometric exercises should not be practiced in isolation. It is more effective to include isometrics with HIIT. A combination of isotonic and isometric exercises works nicely as well.

Isometrics are great for strengthening your muscles. It is a good idea to spread isometrics throughout your workout, in between exercises and mixed in with different movements. Isometrics can also be done throughout the day whenever you feel like it. But remember that though isometrics are good for our body, they must never replace the other forms of exercise. Talk to your UnifiedCare professional about how to diversify your exercise even more.

September 2, 2020 | Categories: Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Exercise, Exercise & Diabetes, Exercise & Hypertension, Exercise & Weight, Hypertension, Weight Management, Wellness | Comments Off

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