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When it’s this cold, exercising outside can be a chore. Even hard-core runners think twice before venturing out onto dark frosty streets with snow on the way.

January is the perfect time of year to exercise at home. And don’t worry, you don’t need to rush out and start buoying expensive exercise equipment. The most you will need for this workout is a mat – and even that can be replaced with ease, using a good thick bath towel (double folded; a nice plush dressing gown; or a plain old rug.

The basic aim of these exercises is to maintain flexibility and strength in your core muscles. By keeping a strong core, you avoid some of the aches and pains associated with bad posture, or with sitting for prolonged periods of time (which, while the air outside is so cold, we’re all doing more of than we should!).


1: Shrugs

Note – if you feel any discomfort during any of these exercises, stop. If you feel a tingling sensation in your neck or your hands, consult a trained physio. 

Stand with your feet together and your hands hanging down by your hips. Place your fingertips on the point of your hip bone, and shrug gently and slowly, bringing your shoulders up to your ear lobes. Try to hold the highest part of the shrug for a breath or two before you slowly roll the hands back down. Repeat 10 times. Rest. Then repeat for another 10.

2: Head and neck extensions

Now roll your head forward gently until your chin touches your chest – or as close as you can get in comfort. Hold for a breath. Return your head to its natural position. Repeat 10 times.

Now take your left hand and put it on top of your head. Gently roll your head to the left hand side and hold it in place for a breath. Repeat 10 times. Switch to your right hand, and roll your head to the right for 10 reps.

3: Oblique muscle extensions

Still standing with your feet together, gently raise your right arm over your head until you feel the muscles down your right hand side open up. Hold for a breath. Repeat 10 times before switching to the left arm.


4: Abdominal extension

Lie on your front with your feet together. Place your hands under your shoulders. Gently push up so your shoulders rise off the ground. Try to leave your hips in contact with the floor. Stop when the stretching sensation in your abdomen begins. Hold for a breath and repeat 10 times.


5: Lower abdomen strengthening

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make sure each foot is placed roughly in a straight line from the outside of your hip. Bend your knees inwards alternately in a rolling motion, keeping your feet on the floor and your back flat to the ground. Do 10 for each leg.


6: Easy sit ups

The sit up is the core exercise that pulls all of your muscle groups together. To do it easily and without pain, lie on your back with your knees raised up over your stomach. Hold onto your knees and gently pull yourself up so you are hugging them. Hold and relax. Repeat 10 times.

Next week – easy yoga