Exercise Program

Here is a sample exercise program recommended by the UF Center for Musculoskeletal Pain Research. This program is tailored for individuals without much workout experience,who want to increase their physical activity. If it is too much, you can always decrease the exercise times/repetitions and slowly build them up as you gain more stamina. Progress should be slow and steady but remember: “Always exert yourself somewhat to increase your heart rate and respiration”!

Dog Walking

Monday:
Start out the day with a brisk, 10-minute walk in the morning.

Tuesday:
Walk for 15 minutes in the evening, or go for a bike ride, or swim, anything to warm up and loosen your muscles. This will help you get your body ready for stretching and strength training. Complete the strength training exercises listed below, and then complete the flexibility exercises to help cool down.

Wednesday:
Start out the day with a brisk, 10-minute walk in the morning.

Thursday:
Walk for 15 minutes in the evening, or go for a bike ride, or swim, anything to warm up and loosen your muscles. This will help you get your body ready for stretching and strength training. Attempt the strength training exercises listed below, and then complete the flexibility exercises to help cool down.

Friday:
Start out the day with a brisk, 10-minute walk in the morning.

Saturday:
Go for a 30 minute light-intensity hike with a friend, your dog, or anyone else you would enjoy spending extra time around!

Sunday:
Take a day to rest and recover if you need.

Upper Body Strength Training

  • Tennis Ball Grip: Try to tightly squeeze a tennis ball in each hand and hold it for 3-5 seconds. Relax the squeeze slowly. Repeat 12-15 times.
  • Wall push up: Stand up slightly further than arm’s length away from the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward and place your palms flat against the wall at shoulder height. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your upper body towards the wall, then pushing yourself back up slowly until your arms are straight. Repeat 10 times.
  • Overhead arm raise: Hold your arms at shoulder height with your palms facing forward. Slowly raise both arms up and over your head keeping your elbows slightly bent at the top, holding it for 1 second, then lowering slowly. If this is too easy, you can add hand weights or even hold up soup cans to increase the difficulty. Repeat 10 times.

Lower Body Strength Training

Woman demonstrating side leg raise
  • Backward Leg Raise: Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding on to the back of the chair for balance. Slowly life one leg straight back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. Keep your chest up tall and avoid leaning forward, the leg you are standing on should be slightly bend. Slowly lower your leg back down. Repeat 12-15 times on each leg.
  • Side Leg Raise: Stand in the same position behind the chair. Slowly lift one leg out to the side, keeping your back straight and your toes facing forward. Again, keep your chest up tall and avoid leaning to the side. The leg you are standing on should be slightly bent. Lower the leg slowly. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
  • Toe Raise: Stand in the same position behind the chair. Slowly stand up to your tiptoes as high as possible. Hold the position for 1 second and slowly lower your heels to the floor. Repeat 10 times.

Flexibility Exercises

Woman demonstrating arm stretch
  • Ankles: Sit toward the edge of a sturdy chair, stretch your legs out in front of you. With your heels on the floor, bend your ankles to point toes toward you. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds. The slowly bend ankles to point your toes away from you and hold for 10-30 more seconds. Repeat this stretch 3-5 times.
  • Back: Sit toward the front of a sturdy chair with armrests. Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. Keeping your chest up high and your back as straight as possible, slowly twist to the left from your waist without moving your hips. Turn your head to the left. Lift your left hand and hold on to the left arm of the chair. Place your right hand on the outside of your left thigh. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds. Slowly return to face forward. Repeat this stretch 3-5 times on each side.
  • Thigh: Stand behind a sturdy chair with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees straight, but not locked. Hold on to the chair for balance with your right hand. Bend your left leg back and grab your foot in your left hand, keeping your knee pointed to the floor. If you cannot reach your foot, you can loop a resistance band or towel around your ankle and hold both ends of the towel with your left hand. Gently pull on your leg until you feel a stretch. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds, slowly lowering your leg after (use extra caution lowering if you have to remove your leg from the resistance band/towel!). Repeat this stretch 3-5 times on each side.
  • Shoulder and upper arm: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one end of a towel in your right hand. Raise your right arm over your head and bend it to drape the towel down your back. Reach behind your lower back with your left hand and grasp the towel. Pull the towel slightly downwards until you feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds, then release your arm slowly. Repeat this stretch 3-5 times on each side.

If you’re confused about any of these exercises, the NIH provides more detailed instructions with an image on how to perform the exercise properly.