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As everyone knows, exercise is an important factor in maintaining and improving your overall health. Combined with a well-balanced diet exercise can reduce your dependence on medications, lower your bloodpressure, beat-back the onset of diabetes and muc more. Below you will find some helpful tips to consider prior to beginning an excerise program, get recommendations on basic stretching and activities you can start your exercise program and more.

Just as important as maintaining a balanced diet and good nutrition is a regular exercise routine. Regular exercise helps lower your blood pressure, improve relaxation, increase flexibility, increase alertness and improves general health by fighting off infection and colds.

Before you begin any exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor. Make sure that you always do warm-up exercises and stretching before beginning your exercise routine.

If you have ever experienced back, neck, chest or lower back pains before with normal exercise, CONSULT your physician before advancing past the warm-up routine. (Below is a list of exercises you can do at home.)

Items 1-9 are Warm-Up Stretches to begin your workout.
1) Calf Stretch - Stand a bit more than arms length from the wall, feet together, hips and back straight. Slowly allow the straight body to come close to the wall (use forearms). Straighten arms, pushing body to standing position. Always keep hand on the wall and heels on the floor. Repeat 3-8 times.
2)Bend & Stretch - (Flexing back, leg muscles) Stand erect, feet apart approximately shoulder width. Bend forward and down flexing knees, heels on the ground, touch toes or floor. Do Not Bounce! Return to starting position. Repeat this 10-15 times.
3) Arm Stretch and Fling - Stand erect, bend elbows at shoulder height, clench fists. Thrust elbows back. Return to starting position. Fling straight-ended arms back. Return to starting position. Repeat 10 -15 times.
4) Torso bend - Stand, feet apart, hands behind neck, fingers interlocked. Keeping hand behind neck, bend sideways to left as far as possible. Return to starting position. Repeat to right. Repeat 10-15 times per side.
5) Large Arm Circles - Stand erect, feet shoulder width apart, arms at sides. Bring arms upward and sideways, crossing overhead to make large circles. Do an equal number of forward and back circles. Repeat this 10-20 times in each direction.
6) Half Push-Up - Life face down, legs together, hand on the floor under shoulders (similar to a push-up). Extend arms to push upper body off of the floor, keeping hips in contact with floor. Circle head both ways. Lower body till chest touches floor. Repeat 3-8 times.
7) Cat Back - Kneel resting on hands and knees. Arch back, drop head at the same time. Reverse arch by bringing head up and forming U with your spine. Repeat this 3-8 times.
8) Head Side to Side - Stand relaxed, feet comfortably apart hand at sides. Turn head all the way left, return head to center. Turn head all the way to right, return to center position. Repeat this exercise 3 times in both directions slowly as to prevent dizziness.
9) Side Leg Raises - Lie on your right side, legs slightly behind body, head on extended right arm. Raise left leg as high as possible. Lower to starting position. Repeat this procedure lying on your left side. Repeat 10-20 times on each side.

Items 10-13 are Low Impact Exercises designed for Flexibility
10) Chest and Leg Raise - Lie face down, place hand under thighs, palms up. Raise head, shoulders and legs from floor at the same time, and relax returning to starting position. Repeat 5-12 times. (When done properly this exercise should make your body resemble the curved wood on a rocking chair base.)
11) Side and Back Leg Swing - Stand erect, feet together, arms straight resting lightly on a chair back. Keeping legs straight, kick right leg back & up. Return leg to floor. Kick sideways high. Return to starting position. Repeat with other leg. Repeat this 10-20 times on each side.
12) Knee Push-ups - Lie face down, legs together, knees bent, feet raised. Hands under shoulders palms down. Push body off floor until arms are fully extended. Make sure to keep your body straight. Return to starting position. Repeat this 8-20 times.
13) Leg Lifts - Lie flat on back, legs straight & together. Place hands with palms down, under thighs. Bend knees to chest, straighten legs, lower slowly until heels slightly touch floor. Repeat, no pauses between lifts, no arch in back. Repeat 7-15 times.

Items 13-26 are HIGH Impact Exercises or Require Higher Level of Flexibility
14) Running in Place - Jog in place, raising each foot at least 4" off floor. Count one, each time left foot touches the floor. Repeat this exercise 100-200 times
15) Sitting Stretch - Sit on floor with legs spread apart, hand on knees. (NOTE: Do Not Bounce) Bend forward at waist, arms extended forward. Touch right toe with hands. Touch left toe with hands. Return to starting position. Repeat this 10-20 times.
16) Sprinter - Squat, hand on floor, fingers straight ahead. Extend left leg backwards. Reverse feet by bringing left leg forward and extending right leg back in one bouncing motion. Reverse feet again. Repeat the 10-20 times.
17) Sit-Ups - Lie on back, knees bent, cross arms on chest, hand grasping opposite shoulders. "Sit Up" to vertical position, keeping knees bent. Lower upper body to starting position. (Have someone hold feet if necessary.) Repeat 10-20 times.
18) Flutter Kick -Lie face down, hands under thighs, palms up. Arch back, bringing head & chest up. Flutter kick from hips, knees slightly bent, moving legs 8"-10" apart. Repeat 20-30 times.
19) Jumping Jacks -Stand erect, feet together arms at sides. Swing arms sideways & up over head at the same time as moving feet apart in one jump. Spring back to starting position. Repeat 40-80 times.
20) Sitting Stretch - Sitting on the floor, legs spread apart, lock fingers behind neck with elbows back. Bend forward to left. Touch forehead to left knee. Return to starting position. Repeat to right. Keep your legs straight and DO NOT BOUNCE. Repeat 10-30 times.
21) Row Boats - Sitting on floor, bring knees to chest, tuck with arms and hands clasping firmly. Lift feet from floor. Release knees and stretch out spine with arms on the floor overhead. Sit up to repeat the tuck.
22) Leg Lift with Hold - Lie flat on back, legs straight & together. Place hands with palms down, under thighs. Bend knees to chest, straighten legs, lower slowly until heels nearly touch floor, and hold that position for 5 seconds. Repeat, no pauses between lifts, no arch in back. Repeat 10-20 times.
23) Push-ups - Lie face down, legs together. Hands under shoulders palms down. Push body off floor until arms are fully extended. Make sure to keep your body straight. Return to starting position. Repeat this 5-15 times.
24) Leg Overs - Lie flat on back, legs straight & together. Place hands with palms down, stretched out at shoulders sideways. Raise legs perpendicular to floor. Lower legs to left, try to touch toes to left hand. Raise to perpendicular. Lower legs to right side. Return to perpendicular. Repeat 10-20 times.
25) Jackknife - Lie on back, legs straight & together, extended arms on floor over head. Sit up, at same time lifting both legs. Fingers reach toward toes. Lie back slowly. Note: keep legs straight. Repeat 5-12 times.
26) Toe Touch Twist & Bend - Stand erect, feet apart. Extend arms over head, interlock thumbs. Twist torso to right. Touch fingers to floor inside right foot. Don't Bounce. Touch right toes. Touch floor, outside right foot. Return to start position. Repeat action to other side. Repeat 10-25 times on each side.

Items 27-28 are Cool Down Exercises - Intended to Help Relax
27) Hamstring Stretch - Position yourself comfortably on the floor with both knees bent. Close your eyes. Take deep breath, exhale slowly. Slide one leg forward and back. Slide the other leg out & back. Take another deep breath. Tighten fists let go. Repeat this 3-5 times.
28) Shoulder Shrugs - Stand erect, feet comfortably apart, hand at sides. Take deep breath - exhale slowly. Take another deep breath and exhale slowly. Now shrug and breathe in. Exhale as you let go of the shrug. Repeat this exercise 4 times.

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