Anti-Inflammatory Diet For Dummies, 2nd Edition
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon
Sticking to a regular high-intensity workout that’s short in duration — about 15 to 30 minutes daily — reduces your risks of obesity and therefore your risks of metabolic syndrome. Physical exercise is also associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular and heart disease and improved cognition and brain function.

Exercise also acts as a natural antidepressant. Exercise promotes the release of feel-good endorphins, helps the immune system (when you don’t overdo it), helps with weight loss and maintenance, and relieves stress. Increased blood flow and sweating enhance detoxification, and exercise helps your body use sugars instead of storing them in the liver, which helps improve problems with insulin resistance.

Furthermore, building and maintaining lean muscle mass helps your metabolism to function optimally and reduce inflammation. Lean muscle mass, rather than fat, helps with inflammation because excess fat cells cause toxicity and inflammatory disruption in the signals of the endocrine system.

In this article, explore ways you can get the blood flowing and build a little muscle in the process.

Remember to stretch before and after every workout. Stretching has a way of fooling your muscles into thinking they’re already or still working, enhancing the benefits of your workout by up to 20 percent. Stretching also helps your muscles begin to contract more smoothly, alleviating some of the pain you may feel early on.

Start off simply with walking and swimming

Walking is the best place to start, particularly because it’s something you likely do to some degree every day. Walking is an easy and excellent way to boost your heart rate, it’s easier on your joints than running, and it’s something you can do at any time. Walk around the house in inclement weather, or go up and down the stairs a few times. Better yet, get a treadmill and walk for miles, even when it’s raining.

The best way to make an exercise routine stick is to make it enjoyable. When you’re walking, find a pleasant route with great things to see or one that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. With other exercises, try playing some upbeat music or exercising with friends.

Integrate more walking into your routine by doing so gradually. Watch a step-tracking app, use a smart fitness device, or keep a pedometer handy, and work weekly to boost the number of steps you take each day. If you’re walking 2,000 steps now, for example, shoot for 2,500 next week. Keep that up for a week and then shoot for another 500-step boost.

Swimming is another great way to get your heart pumping. The water works to soothe the joints rather than put extra stress on them, so swimming is therapeutic as well as aerobic. If you have access to a pool, try to incorporate 30 minutes of swimming into your routine three to four times a week.

When you get your body ready, you can step the workout up a notch, being sure to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your day at least three times a week.

Get it going: stimulating exercises

The following sections guide you through a few moves that are sure to get your heart going. Be sure to have an exercise mat, some water, and plenty of room to get the most out of your workout. Doing these exercises in sequence is a great start to a good fitness routine, and altogether you’ll have about a 20-minute workout. Don’t be afraid to do each exercise a little longer or find another to add to the routine if you want to stretch your workout to 30 minutes.

Squat thrusts

These squat thrusts are a great way to start your exercise routine and get your heart rate nice and high while working your entire body.
  1. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Squat to the floor, placing your hands directly in front of you and about shoulder-width apart.
  3. With your weight on your arms, very quickly jump your feet behind you so that you’re in a push-up position; then jump back and stand up.
Try to do 10 repetitions within a minute. Pause for 30 seconds and then do another set of 10. Pause for another 30 seconds and do a third set of 10.

If your inflammation is in your knees or hips, be sure to consult a physician before trying squat thrusts, and start with shorter, slower repetitions.

Mountain climbers

As with squat thrusts, mountain climbers raise your heart rate rather quickly.
  1. Begin in a push-up position with your legs out straight.
  2. Bring your right knee in to your chest, resting your foot on the floor.
  3. Quickly jump and switch legs, returning the right leg to a straight line and bringing the left knee up.
Continue alternating legs as quickly as you can for a full minute. Pause for 30 seconds and repeat for another minute. Take another 30-second break before doing a final minute of mountain climbers.

Be sure to consult a physician if your inflammation is in your legs, because mountain climbers may exacerbate rather than relieve some of the pain.

Deep squat lunges

These lunges are great for raising your heart rate without the added pressure on your knees and hips. If you have inflammation in your legs, these lunges will aid in the healing process without risking re-injury.
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.
  2. Step your left foot out to the left, bending your left knee and extending your right leg in a side lunge. As you lunge to the left, raise your right arm over your head and reach left. Bring your left arm across your hips and reach right, as shown in the following figure (A). Be careful not to let your left knee extend past your toes.
  3. Return to your starting position, with feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides.
  4. Repeat Step 2, this time lunging to the right and reaching your left arm up and over your head, as shown in the following figure (B).
  5. Return to your starting position.
  6. Continue lunges for 5 minutes, alternating sides. Try to stretch a little farther with each lunge.
lunges Lunge to the left, and then to the right.

Invisible jump rope

This exercise raises your heart rate and lets you control how quickly it climbs based on how fast you jump.
  1. Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping elbows at your sides, pretend you’re holding a jump rope.
  2. Begin twirling “the rope” and jumping.
  3. Continue for five minutes, varying speeds.

Be careful if you’re having trouble with your knees, because the bouncing can create a painful impact.

Slow it down: relaxing moves

Not quite ready for moving fast, or need something to help you cool down? Here are a few moves that keep your heart rate up without putting strain on your joints.

Intermittent leg lifts

These leg lifts are a much less aerobic move than some exercises and therefore shouldn’t cause additional strain on any of your joints. It’s a great starter move for people who suffer inflammation pain in the hips and/or knees.
  1. Lie on your back on your exercise mat, arms at your sides with hands flat.
  2. Keeping your legs together, raise your feet 6 inches; hold them up for 10 seconds.
  3. Pressing your hands to the floor for support, raise your feet another 6 inches and hold for 10 seconds.
  4. Again, pressing your hands to the floor for support, raise your feet one more time, this time so your legs and torso form a right angle; hold for 10 seconds.
  5. Slowly begin lowering your feet, holding your feet 12 inches off the ground for 10 seconds and at 6 inches for 10 seconds.
  6. When your feet are back on the floor, rest for 15 seconds and repeat. Perform this exercise four times.
After you get this move mastered, add some variation by holding a ball between your feet as you raise your legs. First use a playground ball, and then up in size until eventually you work with a stabilizer ball.

Stabilizing ab crunch

This ab crunch is a great exercise to help reduce some of that dangerous belly fat while at the same time increasing your heart rate. The stability ball provides support to your lower back.
  1. Get out your stability ball and put it on the center of your exercise mat.
  2. Stand in front of the ball with your feet at shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lower yourself so that you’re sitting on the ball.
  4. Cross your arms over your chest or clasp your hands gently behind your head and lie back, letting your back curve slightly with the ball.
  5. Slowly rise so that your shoulders come up off the ball, as shown.
  6. Repeat. Do 10 crunches, slowing increasing by 5 crunches over time.
crunches with stability ball The stability ball supports your back as you crunch.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Artemis Morris, ND, LAc, is the co-academic director of the Masters in Integrative Heath and Healing program at The Graduate Institute, professor of nutrition, and founder of Artemis Wellness Center, an integrative medical center in Milford, Connecticut. Molly Rossiter is an award-winning writer who focuses on emerging research in science and self-improvement.

This article can be found in the category: