Ninjas are known for their balance, strength and flexibility. How are your ninja skills? If you need a little work, then here is an easy way to make quick improvements. When you associate an exercise with a daily activity, it is easier to make that exercise a habit. Here are 4 ways to get stronger, increase your balance and check your flexibility during your daily routine.
1. Squats over the toilet – first thing in the morning, last thing at night and multiple times during the day (good sign of hydration) you will take a trip to the toilet. Multi-task either before or after you are finished doing what you do and implement a squat habit. (Men, you may have to get creative.) Squats are one of the best functional exercises because of how directly they relate to real-life activities. Few exercises work as many muscles as the squat, so it’s an excellent multi-purpose activity useful for toning and tightening your core as well as your legs. Perform 10 squats every trip or 10 before, 10 after and before you know it you’ve done 80-100 squats during the course of your day.
2. Put your pants on one leg at a time – everyone does it right? Well, everyone may not do it standing. If you stand up to put your pants on, use this moment to figure out which leg you put in first. The initial leg will most likely be your more stable side. Why? Because once you have one leg dressed, the other foot needs to hit the target of the other pant leg so more control is required. Achieve equal stability by reversing your habit. Try putting the other leg in first and work on the control and balance. Since we are experimenting with an ingrained habit, please be aware of safety. Lean against a wall or stay close to one until you feel more stable on your non-dominant side.
3. Brush your teeth on one foot – Balancing on one foot is a simple way to improve your balance and core strength. When you balance while brushing your teeth, it adds a level of difficulty because you have to balance while adding an irregular motion. If you brush your teeth after you put your pants on, you now know which side you need more work on. Otherwise, split your time between right and left side as you choose. FYI, those of you using an electric tooth brush are at a slight disadvantage as you move less but you can always put a little old school motion in it to challenge yourself. Make sure your standing leg doesn’t lock straight so the glutes (bum muscles) and core remain engaged.
4. Socks and shoes stretch – How you put on your socks and shoes says a lot about your balance and flexibility. If you need to sit down and cross your leg to your opposite knee to put your socks on, you most likely have tightness in your hip or are not comfortable with your balance. If you can easily reach your foot while upright but need a wall to lean on or bench to put the foot on, then you should work more on stability. If you can’t even think of reaching your foot with both hands, knee to your chest, then flexibility is the problem. Or you could be the lucky one who needs to work on the combination of balance and flexibility. If you need flexibility, try a runner’s lunge stretch each time you put on your footwear. Start with a low bench and work up in height to table or counter top (if indoors) and truck bumper or raised ledge (if outdoors.)