Back to basics

Cindy Prewitt illustrates basic stair climbing outside Superior Athletic Club in Medford. Julia Moore photoJulia Moore

Thousands of dollars are spent every year by people who want exercising to be easy with instant, guaranteed results. Every time you switch channels on the television, an infomercial is selling the latest and greatest (they leave out most expensive) workout gadget on the market.

Wishful thinkers find out soon enough that no magic piece of equipment gives them the magical results they are hoping for.

You can maintain strength and flexibility with just the basics. Below are some easy, beginning exercises that won't cost you a thing, other than a little time and effort. Save your money for a new outfit to celebrate the new, fit you.

Basic stair climbing

Stair climbing is a good cardio exercise and great warmup for the rest of the workout.

Take stairs one at a time. Walk up briskly and come down slowly at a controlled pace for 10 minutes. Targets hips, buttocks, upper thighs and calf muscles.

Basic spinning

1. Lie on your back and place your hands underneath your lower back and upper buttocks for support.

2. Lift your legs and buttocks in the air and pedal legs as if riding a bicycle.

3. Go for five minutes and work up to longer intervals. Targets quadriceps, abdominals and inner thighs.

Basic push-up

1. Stand facing a wall, an arm's length away, feet slightly wider than hips.

2. Press palms to the wall at shoulder height, slightly wider than shoulder-width.

3. Slowly lean toward the wall. Bend arms with elbows pointing outward until elbows line up with shoulders. Then press back up. Repeat eight to 12 times. Targets chest, triceps and shoulders.

Basic crunch

1. Sit in a straight-back chair and tighten stomach muscles by pulling muscles up and inward. Lean forward a few inches, bending at the waist; come back up.

2. Keep muscles tensed the whole time. Repeat eight to 12 times. Targets abdominals and lower back.

Basic lunge

1. Find something sturdy to hold onto with one hand, such as a chair or banister. For more support, you can hold onto two chairs.

2. Take a big step forward so one leg is significantly in front of the other.

3. Using leg muscles, slowly lower body an inch or two and then come back up. Repeat eight to 12 times. Targets legs, core, lower back and buttocks.

Basic squat

1. Stand with your back to a chair with arms, as though you're about to sit. Position feet and knees a foot apart.

2. Holding chair arms, slowly lower yourself until you're about 2 inches from the seat. As you come back to a standing position, try to use leg and buttock muscles more than arms. Repeat eight to 10 times. Targets buttocks and legs.

Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.