Exercising in a Pandemic: 10 Easy Exercises to Build a Strong Core Without Leaving the House
Just in time for social distancing from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and gym and fitness center closures in many areas, here's a look back at many important core exercises you can do at home for stay strong and healthy. Download the free illustrated PDF (Chapter 21) for illustrations. You can also find a variety of […]

Pelvic tilt

Just in time for social distancing from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and gym and fitness center closures in many areas, here's a look back at many important core exercises you can do at home for stay strong and healthy. Download the free illustrated PDF (Chapter 21) for illustrations. You can also find a variety of other home exercises at Diabetes Motion Academy Resources as a free download.

A lot of people are stuck at home for one reason or another and think they can't work out to stay fit, but the truth is, you can get a stronger core and stay fit without leaving home. You would be amazed at how easy it is to get in shape.

Remember: Your core body - the muscles around your trunk and pelvis - is especially important for staying strong so that you can go about your normal daily activities and avoid falls and injuries, especially as you age. Having a strong body allows you to better manage your daily life, even if you are just shopping for groceries or playing golf.

Core exercises are an important part of a comprehensive fitness program and are easy to do on your own at home. To start your basic training you don't have to buy anything. (Some of the advanced variations require equipment like a gym ball or dumbbells.)

Point: Include the 10 simple core exercises in your workouts, doing at least one set of 15 reps of each to start (if applicable). Work up to doing two to three sets of each per workout, or even more reps if you can. For best results, do these exercises at least two or three non-consecutive days per week; it takes a day or two for muscles to fully recover and grow stronger. Don't do them right before doing another physical activity (because a tired heart increases your risk of injury).

# 1: abdominal pressures

This exercise (Figure 21-1) is ideal for working your abdominals and strengthening your core as much as possible. If you are a woman and have been pregnant at some point, it is essential to get those muscles in shape by applying these pressures.

  1. Place one of your hands against the top of your stomach and the other the other way under your belly button.
  2. Inhale to dilate your stomach.
  3. Exhale and try to pull your abdominal muscles halfway towards your spine.

This is your starting position.

  1. Contract your abdominal muscles deeper towards your spine for a count of two.
  2. Return to the starting position from step 3 for another count of two.

Work up to 100 repetitions per workout.

# 2: modified planks or planks

No one likes to do planks, but they get the job done when it comes to building your core strength. Planks and modified planks (Figure 21-2) work on multiple areas, including the abs, lower back, and shoulders.

  1. Start with the floor on your stomach and bend your elbows 90 degrees, resting your weight on your forearms.
  2. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and form a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Hold this position for as long as you can.

Repeat this exercise as many times as possible during each workout.

# 3: side planks

A modification of the regular planks, this side plank exercise (Figure 21-3) works some of the same muscles and some slightly different muscles, including your abs, abdominal obliques, sides of the hips, glutes, and shoulders. Try to do some of the two types for the best results.

  1. Start on the floor on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly under your shoulder.
  2. Contract your abdominal muscles and lift your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Hold this position without dropping your hips for as long as you can.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 on the other side.

Switch between the sides as many times as possible.

Tip: try these board variations to mix things up a bit:

* Raised side plank: Lifting both your upper arm and your leg upwards engages other muscles and makes your core work harder to maintain balance, but don't let your hips sag.

* Gym ball side plank: While resting your support arm on a gym ball, use your abdominal muscles to control the swing to further strengthen your lateral muscles.

* Side plank with side elevation: While maintaining the side plank position, slowly raise and lower a light dumbbell or other weight with your upper arm to improve coordination and strength.

* Side plank impulse: From the side plank position, add a vertical hip workout by lowering your hips until they're just above the floor, then pushing them as far as you can with each rep of this movement.

# 4: bridging

If you are working on your abdominal strength, you should also develop lower back strength to maintain balance. Bypass (Figure 21-4) is a good exercise for doing this because it works your buttocks (including glutes), lower back, and hip extensors. Remember to inhale and exhale throughout this exercise.

  1. Slowly lift your butt off the floor, keeping your stomach tight.
  2. Gently lower your back to the floor.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2.

Tip: try bypass surgery with a straight leg lift variant: with your legs bent, lift your butt off the floor. Slowly extend your left knee, keeping your stomach tight. Repeat with the other leg. Do as many reps as possible.

# 5: pelvic tilt

An easy exercise to do, pelvic tilt (Figure 21-5) works the lower back and
lower part of your abdominals.

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands by your side or supporting your head.
  3. Squeeze your buttocks, forcing your lower back flat against the floor, then relax.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as possible.

# 6: superhero pose

Whether you want to jump a tall building with a single limit or not, try doing this superhero pose exercise (Figure 21-6) to get a stronger core. It works in many areas including the lower back, upper back, back of shoulders, and glutes.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched out above your head.
  2. Rest your chin on the floor between your arms.
  3. Keeping your arms and legs straight, simultaneously lift your feet and hands as high off the ground as possible.

Aim for at least three inches.

  1. Hold this position (sort of like a superhero flight position) for 10 seconds if possible, then relax your arms and legs on the floor.

Tip: If this exercise is too difficult, try lifting only your legs or arms off the floor, or even one limb at a time.

# 7: knee push-ups

Push-ups are hard to do if you haven't developed your shoulder strength yet, so this version of the knee (Figure (21-7) is an easier way to start for most people. This exercise works your knee. chest, front shoulders and back of arms.

  1. Put your hands and knees on the floor or on a mat.
  2. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor.
  3. Squeeze your abdominal muscles to straighten your lower back, and lower yourself to the floor as far as possible without touching yourself.
  4. Push yourself up until your arms are extended, but don't lock your elbows.

Tip: If knee push-ups are too difficult for you, try doing wall push-ups to start with instead. Stand facing a wall at arm's length and place your palms against it at shoulder height and with your feet about a foot apart. Do your push-ups on the wall.

# 8: suitcase lift

This exercise (Figure 21-8) is the correct way to lift objects off the ground. Before you begin, place dumbbells or household items slightly forward and between your feet on the floor. You work the same muscles that are used for squats (lower back and lower body) with this activity.

  1. Stand with your back and arms straight, with your hands in front of your abdomen.
  2. Bending only the knees, descend to pick up the dumbbells.
  3. Grab the dumbbells or objects with both hands, then push up with your legs and stand up straight, keeping your back straight.

# 9: squats with knees

These squats (Figure 21-9) are not your normal squats. They are more like a combination of squatting and sitting on the wall with a twist. You work the front and back of the thighs, inner thighs (adductors), hip flexors, and extensors with this exercise.

  1. Stand with your back against the wall, feet in line with your knees and straight in front of you.
  2. Place a ball or pillow between your knees and hold it with your legs.
  3. Inhale to dilate your stomach, then breathe out and contract your abdominal muscles.
  4. Bend your knees and lower yourself into a squat.

Caution: To avoid injuring your knees, do not bend them more than 90 degrees.

  1. Squeeze the ball with your thighs, pulling your belly muscles deeper towards your spine.
  2. Press as many times as you can up to 20, then return to the starting position.

# 10: slits

Lunges (Figure 21-10) are a common activity to work the front and back thighs, hip flexors and extensors, abdominals, and lower back in one exercise. Do them with proper shape to avoid aggravating your knees.

  1. Keep your upper body straight, your shoulders back and relaxed, and your chin up.
  2. Pick a point to look ahead of you so you don't keep looking down, and engage your core.
  3. Step forward with one leg, lower your hips until both knees are bent at an angle of about 90 degrees.

Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed too far, and don't let your back knee touch the floor.

  1. Focus on keeping your weight off your heels as you push back to the starting position.

Tip: To avoid injury, if you experience pain in your knees or hips when doing a lunge, do the following:

  • Take small steps with your front leg.
  • Slowly increase your lunge distance as your pain improves.
  • Try doing a reverse lunge (backing up rather than forward) to help relieve strain on the knee.

From Colberg, Sheri R., Chapter 21, “Ten Easy Exercises to Build a Strong Core Without Leaving Home” in Diabetes and staying fit for dummies. Wiley, 2018.


If you’re having dysfonctionnement beginning an exercise plan or following through, you’re not alone. Many of us struggle getting out of the sedentary rut, despite our best intentions.

You already know there are many great reasons to exercise—from improving energy, mood, sleep, and health to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression. And detailed exercise instructions and workout plans are just a click away. But if knowing how and why to exercise was enough, we’d all be in shape. Making exercise a habit takes more—you need the right mindset and a smart approach.

While practical concerns like a busy schedule or poor health can make exercise more challenging, for most of us, the biggest barriers are esprit. Maybe it’s a lack of self-confidence that keeps you from taking positive steps, or your motivation quickly flames out, or you get easily discouraged and give up. We’ve all been there at some point.

Whatever your age or sport level—even if you’ve never exercised a day in your life —there are steps you can take to make exercise less intimidating and painful and more fun and instinctive.

Ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym or puissance yourself into monotonous or painful activities you hate to experience the physical and emotional benefits of exercise. A little exercise is better than nothing. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your esprit and emotional health.

Be kind to yourself. Research shows that self-compassion increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any given endeavor. So, don’t beat yourself up about your body, your current sport level, or your supposed lack of willpower. All that will do is demotivate you. Instead, look at your past mistakes and unhealthy choices as opportunities to learn and grow.

Check your expectations. You didn’t get out of shape overnight, and you’re not going to instantly transform your body either. Expecting too much, too soon only leads to frustration. Try not to be discouraged by what you can’t accomplish or how far you have to go to reach your fitness goals. Instead of obsessing over results, focus on consistency. While the improvements in mood and energy levels may happen quickly, the physical payoff will come in time.

Many of us feel the same. If sweating in a gym or pounding a treadmill isn’t your idea of a great time, try to find an activity that you do enjoy—such as dancing—or pair physical activity with something more enjoyable. Take a walk at lunchtime through a scenic park, for example, walk laps of an air-conditioned mall while window shopping, walk, run, or bike with a friend, or listen to your favorite music while you move.

Even the busiest of us can find free time in our day for activities that are important. It’s your decision to make exercise a priority. And don’t think you need a full hour for a good workout. Short 5-, 10-, or 15-minute bursts of activity can prove very effective—so, too, can squeezing all your exercise into a couple of séances over the weekend. If you’re too busy during the week, get up and get moving during the weekend when you have more time.

The key thing to remember about starting an exercise program is that something is always better than nothing. Going for a quick walk is better than sitting on the couch; one minute of activity will help you lose more weight than no activity at all. That said, the current recommendations for most adults is to reach at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. You’ll get there by exercising for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Can’t find 30 minutes in your busy schedule ? It’s okay to break things up. Two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts can be just as effective.

For most people, aiming for moderate intensity exercise is sufficient to improve your overall health. You should breathe a little heavier than normal, but not be out of breath. Your body should feel warmer as you move, but not overheated or sweating profusely. While everyone is different, don’t assume that training for a marathon is better than training for a 5K or 10K. There’s no need to overdo it.

Health issues ? Get medical clearance first. If you have health concerns such as limited mobility, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you start to exercise.

Warm up. Warm up with dynamic stretches—active movements that warm and flex the zones musculaires you’ll be using, such as leg kicks, walking lunges, or arm swings—and by doing a slower, easier version of the upcoming exercise. For example, if you’re going to run, warm up by walking. Or if you’re lifting weights, begin with a few light reps.

Drink plenty of water. Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated. Failing to drink enough water when you are exerting yourself over a prolonged period of time, especially in hot conditions, can be dangerous.

There’s a reason so many New Year’s resolutions to get in shape crash and burn before February rolls around. And it’s not that you simply don’t have what it takes. Science shows us that there’s a right way to build vêtements that last. Follow these steps to make exercise one of them.

A goal of exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week may sound good. But how likely are you to follow through ? The more ambitious your goal, the more likely you are to fail, feel bad about it, and give up. It’s better to start with easy exercise goals you know you can achieve. As you meet them, you’ll build self-confidence and momentum. Then you can move on to more challenging goals.

Triggers are one of the confidentiels to success when it comes to forming an exercise habit. In fact, research shows that the most consistent exercisers rely on them. Triggers are simply reminders—a time of day, place, or cue—that kick off an automatic reaction. They put your routine on autopilot, so there’s nothing to think about or decide on. The alarm clock goes off and you’re out the door for your walk. You leave work for the day and head straight to the gym. You spot your sneakers right by the bed and you’re up and course. Find ways to build them into your day to make exercise a no-brainer.

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because of the rewards it brings to their lives, such as more energy, better sleep, and a greater sense of well-being. However, these tend to be long-term rewards. When you’re starting an exercise program, it’s important to give yourself immediate rewards when you successfully complete a workout or reach a new sport goal. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercise. It can be something as simple as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.

If your workout is unpleasant or makes you feel clumsy or inept, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Don’t choose activities like course or lifting weights at the gym just because you think that’s what you should do. Instead, pick activities that fit your lifestyle, abilities, and taste.

Activity-based film games such as those from Wii and Kinect can be a fun way to start moving. So-called “exergames” that are played standing up and moving around—simulating dancing, skateboarding, soccer, bowling, or sport tennistique, for example—can burn at least as many kcal as walking on a treadmill; some substantially more. Once you build up your confidence, try getting away from the TV screen and playing the real thing outside. Or use a smartphone app to keep your workouts fun and interesting—some immerse you in interactive stories to keep you motivated, such as course from hordes of zombies !

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