Question: What daily-life activities can I do that use different muscle groups in different ways? How do I do them correctly? What muscle groups they will use?

1. Driving – Practicing Seated Posture, Relaxed Shoulders, Low Abdominal Support

Sit with your back tall (adjust your rearview mirror a bit higher so if you're not in a tall seated position you'll know right away!) Allow the hands to rest on the wheel, and let the shoulder tension drop. Practice pulling the abdominals towards the back of your seat while maintaining your tall posture position. This is how you should be sitting all of the time in any chair!

2. Driving – Spine Rotation – checking for cars – turn and look.

Our back should be mobile and flexible to twist naturally and easily from the bottom to the top. Practice turning to look both ways for cars (right & left) You can turn from the top (head) to the bottom (navel). Or bottom to the top. Keep both hands on the steering wheel, and maintain tall posture. If you are turning to the right - the muscles close to the spine on the left actively push forward to twist each vertebrae, while the right side of the abs pull back, up, and in so both the front and back of the torso is actively engaged to rotate the body.

3. Trimming Bushes – with manual hedge clippers – Chest muscles.

By using the whole arm, (focus on squeezing the clippers to cut from where the arms meet the body) you'll get a fantastic chest workout while you're trimming the yard.

4. Getting up and down off a chair or toilet – Squat, Glutes, Quads, and Hamstrings.

We don't realize how many times a day we sit down and stand back up! Every time is an opportunity to strengthen the legs! By focusing on lowering down to sit with control the knees are bending and it's the hamstrings that control the movement. Think about actively pulling your sitz bones towards your heels to control the rate of descent. To return to a stand and keep the strain off your knees, it's the Glutes that need to engage to lift the body up from underneath the hips. The quads will work to straighten the knees, but don't let this be the first action to rise. Fire – Glutes first, then quads to return to a standing position.

5. Waiting to check out at the grocery store – Standing Posture, and/or 1 –leg Balancing

What better place to work on balance and posture, than when you're waiting in line to check out at the store. Practice standing legs together, even weight on both feet, knees unlocked, abs lifted, shoulders relaxed, head tall. AND practice balancing on one leg with the same tall posture and support.
6. Gardening / Weeding – Abs/Back & Legs, Hands, bending over and standing up, squatting or kneeling Arms & Shoulders – picking & pulling

We all have a dominant and weaker side. Focus on equal time for both sides of the body. Alternate pulling weeds with one arm and the other. Pay attention to which leg you squat or kneel on, and be sure that you are also alternating lowering and rising with the legs for a well-balanced gardening workout! Pull your abs up and in, then pull the weed!

7. Vacuuming – Chest & Back – Pushing & Pulling, using the arm to move the machine. Oblique's & Abdominals if you add rotation of the torso with the movement of the vacuum.

We typically will rely on our dominate side to complete chores in a timely manner. Count the number of strokes across the floor you push and pull the vacuum with one arm, and then alternate sides. If you just bend and straighten the arm to move the vacuum (keeping your shoulders square to your task) the chest and triceps are doing the push forward, and the back and biceps are doing the pull back. Add a twist by allowing the torso to rotate when you push forward, and square the shoulders off when you pull back for more work with the abdominals and oblique's. Also, pay attention to the leg that is forward. Switch legs when you switch arms. (Have the opposite leg in front to the arm that is working to counter-balance your movement.)

8. Sitting Up & Rolling Over in Bed – Abdominals / Sit-ups

Any time you get up from a lying down position, or lay down from a seated position, it's an opportunity to strengthen your abdominal muscles. Strive to roll up and down evenly and sequentially (one segment of your back at a time.) If you rest on one elbow to push up to a sit you're not using your abs, and are creating a muscle imbalance (chances are you always push up off the same elbow!) Use your exhale to assist through the challenging moments of the movement.

9. Mad, Passionate, Lovemaking! A Superior whole-body exercise.

This is cardio training when vigorously engaged. Core training with good thrusting action of hips & pelvis. An upper body workout if you're on top! There are lots of interesting possibilities and positions to improve flexibility! Plus, enjoy pelvic floor strengthening to improve posture, core strength, and bladder control. What better excuse for a great workout than sharing time with your sweetie!

10. Everything we do, every moment of every day gives us the opportunity to use our muscles and improve strength, flexibility, mobility, and body control.

Whether we are actively moving, seated, or standing still – awareness of what we're doing and how we are using our bodies is important. It is the active use of our muscles to fight against the affects of gravity that provide the support we need to stay strong, fit, and flexible and enjoy a great quality of life!

Author's Bio: 

Aliesa George is the founder of Centerworks® Pilates. She is an author, workshop presenter, and mind-body health expert with more than 25 years of experience designing solutions for health improvement. Aliesa has created a wide variety of products focused on Pilates, Foot Fitness, the Mind-Body Connection, Stress-Management, and Whole-Body Health. She enjoys helping others discover the connection between thought and action to get positive results and achieve goals for a healthy mind, body and spirit!

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