AlaskaCare Employee Wellness Program Exercises
Warning: Before engaging in any exercise regimen, you should consult a physician.
Exercise is for more than just how your body looks. Try some simple moves to relieve stress, become more energetic, and gain confidence.
- Triceps Chair Dip
- Leg Raise
- Side Plank
- Bird Dog
- Stationary Lunge
- Standing Calf Raise
- Overhead Press
- Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Triceps Chair Dip
This triceps exercise is simple and effective for training triceps muscles. You can perform it at home or in the gym.
- Sit on the edge of a chair, place your hands on the chair at a 90-degree angle to your body
- Place your feet on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle
- Move your torso forward off the edge of the chair, supporting yourself with slightly bent arms
- Inhale, then slowly lower your body down by bending your elbows until they reach a 90-degree angle
- Exhale and press up by extending your arms
Perform 10 to 12 repetitions and rest. Repeat this sequence up to 2 more times.
Advanced? —place your feet on a chair, or a weight on your legs
Warning: Do not fully extend or lock your elbows. This helps to keep the triceps muscle always in tension.
The overhead press works the deltoids, which are the main muscles of the shoulders.
This exercise can be performed on a stability ball, seated on a bench, or standing (shown).
- To begin, align your body so your ears, shoulders, and hips are in line.
- Keeping your stomach muscles tucked, lift your arms to shoulder height and bend at the elbows with your palms facing forward.
- Straighten your arms overhead and lower back to starting position.
Perform 10 to 12 repetitions and rest. Repeat this sequence up to 2 more times.
Scapular Stability (Shoulder Blade Squeeze)
Scapular stabilization refers to a set of exercises that strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles to restore normal shoulder blade motion and position.
- Stand or sit with your back and neck straight. Your chin should be tucked in slightly and your shoulders should be back slightly.
- Keeping your shoulders down, slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together as hard and far as you can go without pain and provided you feel no more than a moderate stretch.
- Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
The following basic scapular stability exercises should be performed approximately 3 times daily at first. As your strength and control improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, frequency or duration of the exercises provided they do not cause or increase pain.
Proper form is crucial to effectively performing this exercise.
- Keep your head in line with your torso throughout the entire movement
- Keep shoulders back and stable: this will force your chest to work much harder and prevent injury to your shoulders
- Keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, next to the middle of your chest
- Pretend as though you're gripping the floor to take pressure off the wrists
- Lower your body slowly and touch or nearly touch your chest to the ground
- Stop your descent and push up forcefully
Perform one set of as many reps as you can. Rest 90 seconds and repeat.
The leg raise works the lower abdominal muscles.
Toning and tightening your lower abs will give you a flatter stomach and will also help to improve your posture. Performing six-inch leg raises twice a week can also help to balance and stabilize your core.
- Lie on your back, making sure your back is straight and your core is tight.
- Stretch your legs out in front of you with your feet together.
- With your hands by your sides or folded on your abdomen, slowly lift your legs about six inches off the floor.
- Hold this position, using your stomach muscles to keep you stable. Keep your lower back pressed against the floor.
- Lift your head and hold for as long as possible: try to work your way up to several minutes.
Don’t arch your back just to hold your legs up, otherwise you will no longer be working abdominal muscles. Instead, lift your legs a little higher, bend your knees, or put your hands under your bottom for more support.
The superman exercise is a good complement to abdominal exercises. This exercise strengthens your entire back and glutes.
- Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
- Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated “u” shape with your body — back arches and arms and legs lift several inches off the floor.
- Hold for two to five seconds and lower back down to complete one.
- Do eight to twelve repetitions.
Make it harder: Hold each repetition for ten to twenty seconds.
- Lie on your side with your legs extended out.
- Place your elbow directly under your shoulder. Your head, shoulder, hip, and ankle should all be in alignment with one another.
- Tighten the abdominal muscles and lift at the hips. Hold for about 3 seconds and then lower back down. During this motion watch that you don't let your hips rotate.
Perform this exercise 3 to 4 repetitions and rest. Repeat this sequence up to 2 more times.
The Bird Dog exercise improves muscle balance and coordination, making it easier to keep the spine stable and supported for everyday moves, such as walking, running, dancing, and carrying a child.
Abdominals, upper and lower back, glutes/hips, hamstrings
- Get on all fours and tighten your abdominal muscles
- Keep your spine and neck in a neutral position; you should be looking at the floor
- Slowly extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward
- Keep your hips and shoulders square and make sure your lower back doesn’t arch.
- Hold for five seconds.
- Slowly return to the starting position and do the move on the opposite side.
Complete 5 to 10 repetitions on each side.
Make it harder: Gradually increase the holding time for 10 to 12 counts. For an additional challenge, add movement to the mix by slowly lifting and lowering the extended arm and leg a few inches, maintaining proper form throughout.
The V-up is an advanced abdominal exercise and works your total core. It is also known as the jackknife or pike crunch. This exercise challenges your core, abs, back, and flexibility.
Abdominals, lower back
- Lie on your back with your legs straight
- Raise your torso and legs simultaneously, extending your arms forward
- Reach toward your toes, and hold for 5 seconds
- Lower your torso and legs to the floor
- Perform one set of as many reps as you can. Rest 90 seconds and repeat
Make it harder: Try to touch your toes in the V-up, and hold each repetition for ten seconds.
- Start in good alignment: Stand up straight with ear over shoulder, over knee, over hip.
- Next, position yourself in a split stance by placing one foot in front of the body and the other foot behind (left photo). This creates a supportive base.
- Lower yourself straight down, while keeping your front knee over your toe (right photo).
- Press back up to starting position.
Do 8 to 10 repetitions on each leg. Rest and repeat sequence 1 to 2 more times.
Beginner? —hold on to the back of a sturdy chair.
Advanced? —hold dumbbells in your hands as you lower and raise.
The squat works all the major muscles of the lower body: the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. The squat also promotes body-wide muscle building and fat burning, mobility and balance, and can decrease joint laxity and knee pain by strengthening the quadriceps muscle and other knee stabilizers.
Although squats can be extremely beneficial, it is essential they are performed with proper technique.
- Position feet a little wider than shoulder width with the toes slightly pointed outward.
- Bend at the hips and knees and inhale.
- Keep your trunk upright throughout the entire motion with shoulders back and chest out. At no point should your low back be arched forward nor should you look down during the motion.
- Distribute weight through the middle of the foot. The lifter should not place most of the weight through the balls of the feet.
- Pretend you are sitting down in a chair. This motion will allow you to activate the glutes and hamstrings which is essential in correctly performing the squat.
- Continue to lower hips until the tops of the thighs are slightly below parallel with the floor.
- Keep the trunk upright during the upward phase
- Make sure the knees stay aligned, tracking the toes, and do not turn inward or outward. Allowing the knees to turn in or out is a common source of pain during squats.
- Rise up, pushing through the heels, until the knees are extended, exhaling as you rise.
Beginner? —place a chair behind you. On the downward phase, make contact with the chair without settling into it.
Advanced? —hold dumbbell(s) in your hands as you lower and raise. (pictured)
There is a strong correlation between squatting form and flexibility. The muscles of the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, glutes, and back extensors) all pull on each other indirectly. When squatting downward, the hips are moving into a flexed position which stretches the glutes and hamstrings: the lower the squat, the greater the stretch. The back muscles act to keep your trunk upright and keep you from leaning too far forward. Before adding more weight during squatting or before performing a deeper squat, it is important to ensure you have the proper flexibility so technique is not compromised during the motion.
Standing Calf Raise
The standing calf raise exercise targets your calf muscles, particularly the larger, outermost muscle that is responsible for the shape and size of your calves.
Follow these steps to perform this exercise:
- Stand on the edge of a step or flat on the floor.
- Stand tall with your abdominals pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step, and your heels hanging over the edge (if you're on a step).
- Raise your heels so that you’re on your tiptoes.
- Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles.
- Do 3 sets of 20 repetitions, 40 seconds apart.
Make it harder: Hold something heavy in your hands while doing the exercise.