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Health Benefit of Exercise

Regular exercise can help protect you from heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, non--insulin dependent diabetes, obesity, back pain, osteoporosis, and can improve your mood and help you to better manage stress.For the greatest overall health benefits, experts recommend that you do 20 - 30 minutes of aerobic activity three to five times a week and some type of muscles strengthening activity and stretching at least twice a week.  However, if you are unable to do this level of activity, you can gain substantial health benefits by accumulating 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity a day, at least five times a week.

If you have been inactive for a while, you may want to start with less strenuous activities such as walking or swimming at a comfortable pace.  Once you are in better shape, you can gradually do more strenuous activity.

How Physical Activity Impacts Health

Regular physical activity that is performed on most days of the week reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading causes of illness and death in the United States.

Risk of dying prematurely

Risk of dying prematurely from heart disease

Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure

Reduces the risk of developing diabetes

Helps reduces high blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure

Reduces the risk of colon cancer

Reduces the feelings of depression and anxiety

Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints

Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling


Strength and Power Travel Circuit

This total body workout has everything you need for a complete workout, whether you're on the road or just short on time.  The workout alternates a dynamic strength move along with a high-intensity power move so you work your entire body and get your heart rate up to burn more calories.   

  • Beginners:  This is an intermediate/advanced workout.  Modify the exercises, or start with this Beginner/Intermediate Circuit.
  • Intermediate/Advanced:  Perform each exercise one after the other, resting when you need to. 
  • Warm up with a few minutes of light cardio or light versions of each exercise.
  • Complete 1 circuit for a short workout, or go through the series 2 to 3 more times for a more challenging workout.
  • If you don't have weights, use whatever's handy (water bottles, soup cans, etc.) or use no weights and add reps if you need more intensity
  • For low-impact substitutes, find ideas at Low Impact Circuit Workout.
  • Monitor your intensity, and make sure you stay between about level 4 to 8.  Modify the workout as needed, and avoid any exercises that cause pain or that are confusing.
  • See your doctor if you have any medical conditions, illnesses or injuries.

Squats with Overhead Press  
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Holding medium-heavy weights just over the shoulders, squat as low as you can and do 3 slow pulses, only coming halfway up.  On the fourth pulse, stand up and push the weights overhead.  Repeat the series for 12 to 16 reps.


Begin with feet together and jump up, taking feet out to the side while circling arms overhead and land in a squat.  Jump up and bring feet back together, circling arms back in. This is just like a slow jumping jack, but really use power when pushing up into the jumps. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
Wall Sit with Chest Squeeze

Squeezing a medicine ball (or any other type of ball, or even a pillow), slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position and keep pressure on the ball as your straighten the arms out in front of you and slowly pull them back in.  Repeat the chest squeezes in and out for 12 to 16 reps, and then stand up.

Front Kick with Squat
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Lower into a squat and, as you press up, kick out with the right leg.  Repeat, squatting and kicking with the left leg. Continue alternating squats and kicks for 1 minute.

Walking Lunges with Lateral Raises
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Step right foot forward into a lunge and, with elbows bent to 90 degrees, lift the arms up to shoulder level.  Step in, lower the arms and repeat on the other foot.  Continue walking lunges and lateral raises for 12 reps on each side.

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Begin in a lunge position and jump up, switching the feet in the air, landing with the other foot forward in a lunge.  Repeat for 30 seconds, rest and do it for 30 seconds more. 

Low Lunges
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This is a different take on the traditional lunge.  Begin in a split stance, but with the feet closer together than in a lunge.  Tip from the hips, keeping the back straight, and lunge down, taking weights towards the floor on either side of the front foot.  Keeping weight in the front foot, push halfway up and repeat for 16 reps, keeping the movement small and the weight on the front foot.   Switch sides.

Pushups on the Ball
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This is a very challenging move, targeting both balance and strength.  Hold the ball wherever feels most comfortable to you (you could even prop it against a wall if needed) and lower down until the chest touches the ball. Repeat for 12 to 16 reps. If you don't like this move, do regular pushups.

Squat Thrusts
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Stand with feet together.  Squat down and place your hands on the floor next to your feet.  In an explosive movement,  jump feet backwards into a push-up position, jump feet back between hands and stand up.  Perform 6 reps, briefly recover, repeat 6 more times.  March in place to lower the heart rate before the last exercise.

Support the body on the elbows and toes, keeping the back straight and that abs engaged (don't sag in the middle).  Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.


Beginner Ball Workout for Balance, Stability and Strength

The following workout shows basic exercises for balance, stability and strength using an exercise ball.  If you're new to the exercise ball, this is a great place to start.  If you need to, sit next to a wall or chair to hold on for balance.  Perform 1 set of each exercise and, as you get stronger, add more sets.  Check with your doctor if you have any injuries or medical conditions.  For more, check out Choosing and Using an Exercise Ball.

Ball Circles
Sit on the ball and place the hands on the ball for balance or place them behind your head (more difficult).  Slowly begin to roll the hips in a circle towards the right, making small circles and then, as you get comfortable, larger circles.  Do 10-20 circles then repeat to the left.
Seated March
Sit on the ball with the spine straight and abs in.  Begin a slow march, alternating lifting the right foot and then the left.  As you get comfortable with the movement, lift the knees higher and march faster.  You can also add a bounce on the ball if you feel comfortable.  Repeat for 1-2 minutes.
Seated Balance
Sit on the ball with the spine straight and abs in.  Place the hands on the ball or behind the head (harder) and lift the right foot off the floor, holding it in the air for 5 or more seconds.  Lower and repeat on the other side.  Repeat for 5-10 reps.  Keep the abs in to help keep your balance.


Ball Walks
Sit on the ball and place the hands on either side for balance.  Contract the abs and slowly walk the feet forward as you slide the back down onto the ball.  Continue walking the feet forward until you're in a bridge position with the head and shoulders supported by the ball, hips lifted.  Walk all the way back until you're seated again and repeat for 3-5 reps.  If this feels difficult, hold onto a wall for balance and only walk forward a bit at a time until you feel more comfortable.
Ball Squats
Prop the ball against a wall and position it behind your lower-mid back.  Walk the feet out a bit so that you're leaning against the ball, feet about hip-distance apart.  Bend the knees and lower into a squat, going as low as you can (no lower than 90 degrees) and keeping the knees behind the toes.  Push through the heels to come back up and repeat for 15 reps.
Pelvic Tilt on the Ball
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Lie at an incline position on the ball with the hips down, head supported by the hands and feeling a stretch in the abs.  Without rolling on the ball, squeeze the hips up then lower and repeat for 15 reps. 
Leg Press

Sit on the ball and slowly walk the feet forward until you're at an incline on the ball with knees bent.  Bend the knees and roll down on the ball towards the floor.  Push through the heels to come back to start, in an incline position and repeat for 15 reps.
Back Extension
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Lie facedown with ball under your hips and lower torso, resting on your knees.  Place the hands behind the head or under the chin.  Roll down the ball and then contract the lower back to lift the chest off the ball, bringing your shoulders up until your body is in a straight line.  Do not hyperextend.  Repeat for 12- 16 reps.  
Hip Extension
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Lie on floor with heels propped on ball.  Keeping abs tight, slowly lift your hips off the floor (squeezing the buttocks) until body is in a straight line.  Hold for a few seconds and lower, repeating 10 to 15 times.  To make it easier, place ball under knees rather than under heels.  To make it harder, cross your arms over your chest.