A strong body is a healthy body, and to get that, you need to intentionally incorporate exercise into your daily routine. If your job requires physical labor, you’re ahead of the game, but if you sit at a desk all day, you need to add exercise to your to-do list — but which kind is best?
Dinash Yanamadula, MD, at Princeton Pain & Spine Institute in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, encourages our patients to discover the benefits of bodyweight exercises. Whether you’re experiencing pain from an injury or chronic illness or are simply looking for a convenient and efficient way to amp up your workouts, bodyweight exercises offer many benefits. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of them.
What are bodyweight exercises?
From sports to weightlifting to circuit machines at the local gym, there are countless ways to get in shape and achieve healthy, lean muscle mass. But you don’t need a membership to work out. All you need is your own body.
Any type of movement that involves pulling, pushing, or lifting your own weight qualifies. Pushups are a great example of bodyweight exercises. You can do these exercises almost anywhere, anytime — in your office, while you’re traveling, indoors, or outdoors.
In addition to the convenience, bodyweight exercises also offer the benefit of adaptability, so depending on your fitness level, your goals, or your rehab status, you can tailor the movements to your needs.
Advantages of bodyweight exercises
Because bodyweight exercises involve your entire body, you can use them to not only build muscle mass, but also to increase flexibility, endurance, balance, coordination, and stability.
Dr. Yanamadula often recommends bodyweight exercises as part of our comprehensive physical therapy treatments for various conditions, such as low back pain, neck pain, joint pain, and even some chronic illnesses.
Studies have shown that high-intensity interval bodyweight training can benefit those with diabetes by reducing inflammation and insulin resistance.
And, low-intensity bodyweight training has proven beneficial for elderly adults seeking to improve lower-limb strength and mobility. This shows that even slow-motion movements and light resistance can make a big difference.
Performed correctly, bodyweight exercises can have a positive impact on your overall health, including improvements in:
- Lean muscle mass
- Resting metabolic rate
- Subcutaneous and visceral fat
- Physical performance
- Cognitive ability
- Functional independence
- Blood pressure
- Bone health
- Cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Diabetes management
Given such a broad range of physical improvements, resistance training and bodyweight exercises can offer many of the same benefits as medicine but without the negative side effects.
How to optimize your bodyweight exercises
The most important part of doing any type of exercise is that you perform the movements correctly. Dr. Yanamadula and our team will take considerable time to create an individualized bodyweight exercise plan for you, and we’ll make sure you know exactly how to execute it safely.
Once you master the form and mechanics of the movements, we’ll let you know the optimal number of repetitions and frequency you’ll need to achieve your health or rehabilitative goals.
It will be important to warm up before each session. This will raise your body temperature and heart rate and get your blood circulating, so your muscles and joints will be ready for exercise.
Once you complete a session, it will be equally important to perform cool-down movements — such as gentle stretches — for about five minutes to help flush out any lactic acid that may have built up in your muscle tissues.
You’ll also want to keep a bottle of water handy to stay hydrated. And when you feel pain, you should stop. Bodyweight exercises should push you to your limits, but not past them. Knowing when to stop can help prevent a serious injury.
Examples of bodyweight exercises
The best bodyweight exercises for you will depend entirely on your physical needs, goals, and limitations. Dr. Yanamadula and our team will let you know which ones will be best for your needs. A few examples include:
- Stair climbing
- Wall sits
- Chair dips
- Jumping jacks
Of course, this is just a mere sampling of the many types of bodyweight exercise you can do, and each one can be modified for lesser or greater intensity.
To learn more about bodyweight exercises for overall fitness or as part of your physical therapy treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Princeton Pain & Spine Institute today.