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Little bouts of exercise can go a long way

October 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The first step to getting fit is often the most difficult, and if you're overweight, concerns about doing too much too soon can keep you on the sidelines. The key is to start slow and easy and work your way up.

"They know they need to work out to promote their health or just move better, improve their fitness level, lose weight, but on the flipside, sometimes it's painful, uncomfortable or difficult to do," said physical therapist O'Real Cotton.

Cotton is talking those with a lot more than just a few pounds to lose - the kind of overweight that puts a lot of impact on joints.

People may ask themselves, "Should I do it and fight through the pain, or should I just not do it at all?"

Cotton said the answer is they have to do it.

"It's a matter of finding the successful movements, the successful planes, and then being able to change them up and get your body to adapt and move forward," said Cotton.

He suggests one move that targets lower body muscles, challenging them without impact.

"All you need is a stool. You may have a step stool at home [or] a bench of some sort," Cotton said.

Rock forward and back with your arms reaching forward toward your toes. This works the glutes and hamstring muscles, while stretching your lower back. Then move your arms up to knee level to engage the calves and quadriceps, and then do an overhead reach to put even more energy into your quads. Try 10 in each direction to start.

Another great workout is a countertop squat, where you focus on getting your glutes and hips way back.

The countertop helps support you, taking away knee discomfort as your weight is in your glutes and heels, back behind the body.

Finally, there's a sit-and-be-fit approach, using some type of soup can, jug or weights overhead, up and across to work shoulders, biceps, triceps, back and core of the body. This can also be done standing. You'll feel the effects either way.

Even little bouts of exercise - as little as five minutes a day - can do a lot. It can improve your mood, increase heart health, and psychologists suggest it can strengthen self-control.

"So you may move five minutes in the morning, five minutes after lunch, five minutes in the evening. Now you have a 15-minute cumulative effect, and now you're heading in the right direction," said Cotton.

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