Weekend Challenge: Core-Strengthening “Snow Angels”

For Savers in many parts of the world, winter means snow. There’s nothing quite like a beautiful snowfall to make you feel like a kid again – building snowmen, sledding, and making snow angels.

That is one of the reasons why I chose this particular exercise for today’s weekly challenge. It turns back the clock in more than one way – it makes you feel like a child again (making snow angels), and it also contributes to the youthful effects of exercise, which have been proven time and again by decades of consistent research.

So I’m thrilled to share with you a fascinating study on the power of exercise to turn back the clock, and we’ll also take a look at why this exercise is excellent for your bones.

Why:

The expression “use it or lose it” is particularly true with regard to muscle and bone strength. When scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School applied this principle to the concept of exercise, the 20-year-old study participants underwent a stunning transformation. Here’s what happened.

Back in 1966, five young men volunteered for what must have sounded like a relaxing summer gig: they were asked to rest in bed for three weeks. But after those three weeks were over, the scientists discovered detrimental effects from the extensive bed rest.

Despite their young age, all of them experienced increased resting heart rate, more body fat, higher systolic blood pressure, decreased muscle strength, and a notable drop in the heart’s pumping capacity. It was as though the three weeks of bed rest had literally aged them.

The researchers then had the 20-year-olds undergo an eight-week exercise program consisting of intensive endurance training. The results were no less remarkable: the young men not only recovered their health, but they actually experienced improvement in all of the above areas, making them healthier than they were before the bed rest experiment.1

Thirty Years Later …

As time went on, the deleterious effects of little or no exercise were reiterated by research and experience. Space travel highlighted this issue as astronauts experienced bone loss and other health problems in the absence of earth’s gravity. The absolute necessity of exercise for health became more and more apparent.

As this truth continued to present itself, the Texas researchers decided to follow up with their original participants 30 years later, in 1996, when they were 50 years old. While the men were generally considered healthy, they were experiencing the effects of aging: on average, they were 50 pounds heavier, and body fat made up a greater percentage of their total body weight. Their heart’s capacity had dropped and their resting heart rate had risen. Still, they were better off than they were after three weeks of bed rest at age twenty!

Fearing disastrous consequences, the men were not asked to lie in bed for three weeks again. But they were asked to exercise daily for six months – cycling, swimming, and jogging rather than the tough endurance training they underwent 30 years prior.

While their average weight loss at the end of six months was a modest 10 pounds, the men’s heart rate, blood pressure, and blood pumping capacity were back to the baseline levels they had at the age of twenty.

“…3 weeks of bedrest in these same men at 20 years of age (1966) had a more profound impact on physical work capacity than did 3 decades of aging.”2

Amazing!

Today’s Exercise Helps Turn Back The Clock

This weekend’s challenge definitely has a place in recovering youthful stamina and, of course, in building bone. The following muscles and muscle groups are engaged in The Core-Strengthening “Snow Angels.”

  • Core muscles, which include your abdominals (you will really feel these working!), pelvic floor muscles, obliques (along your sides), diaphragm, and the muscles along your spine. The core muscles work together to allow you to bend, twist, sit up, balance, and more. They stabilize your spine and hips and help you practice good posture and breathing.
  • The quadriceps, located in the front of the thigh, get a good workout with this exercise. This four-part muscle runs from the knee to the hip, strengthening the femur and pelvis joints as they bring the legs forward and extend the knee.
  • Shoulder mobility is enhanced with the arm motions involved in these “snow angels.” You’ll be bringing your arms up and over your head, using a significant range of motion.

So let’s look at how to do it.

How:

  1. Get down on the floor and lie on your back. If you do not have carpet, then use an exercise mat.
  2. Draw your belly in toward your spine, flattening your back against the floor.
  3. Raise your head up off the floor. If this is too difficult, uncomfortable, or painful, use a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your head.
  4. Raise your arms and legs up off the floor as well.
  5. Now move your arms and legs in a “snow angel” motion, with your hands going up over your head while your feet come apart, and your hands going back down to your sides as your feet come together.
  6. Repeat this motion 10 times for one set, or as many times as you feel comfortable.
  7. Do not let your feet, hands, or head touch the floor until the set is complete.

It’s more difficult than it first appears!

These are two other Weekend Challenges that go well with this one: the Deep Core Stabilizer and the Weighted Core Strengthener. Your core will get a thorough workout.

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Here’s what’s so wonderful about regular exercise – it not only makes you feel younger; the data clearly shows it actually reverses the effects of aging and sedentary lifestyles!

Densercise™ has more than 50 moves that are designed to target the most fragile and therefore fracture-prone bones, helping you to build density and improve tensile strength. And of course, the renewed youthfulness and health that comes with regular exercise is yours with Densercise™! That’s an incredible gift.

With Densercise™, you can share the gift of youth with others and with yourself.

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Have a great weekend!

References:

1McGavock, Jonathan M., et al. “A Forty-Year Follow-Up of the Dallas Bed Rest and Training Study: The Effect of Age on the Cardiovascular Response to Exercise in Men.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 64A. 2. (2009): 293-299. Web. December 15, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2655009/

2McGuire, Darren K., et al. “A 30-Year Follow-Up of the Dallas Bed Rest and Training Study.” Circulation. 104. (2001): 1350-1357. Web. December 15, 2016. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/104/12/1350

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16 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Annie January 1, 2017, 7:15 am

    Thank you – I really appreciate intelligent, caring advice and information – that is free too.
    Please keep it coming. Annie
    Happy New Year – let’s hope things improve!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA January 2, 2017, 12:26 pm

      Thank you, Annie, and Happy New Year!

  2. Barbara December 22, 2016, 11:03 am

    Vivian, I have stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that has spread to my bones. My oncologist has put me on Zometa for bone treatment, but after reading information from your site I believe I should stop the treatment if it’s going to do more ha than good. Comments?

  3. Rosanne December 19, 2016, 3:33 pm

    I am thankful for anything that will help me build my bone density! Thank you so much and I don’t care when the emails come. 🙂 Just keep them coming! I wish everyone luck in building their bones up. I think this is going to be a journey!
    Barbara Taylor, I have been taking New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care. It is organic plant based calcium with time release so you only have to take it once a day. It also has Vitamin D, K and magnesium. I buy it on Vitacost.com and if you belong to ebates, you get money back. You can also set up on auto delivery. Also, no shipping charge with a certain dollar amount order which is not much. Thank you.

    • Suzy December 20, 2016, 1:15 pm

      Hi, Rosanne. I’m looking to buy this, but the label seems to suggest you take 3 slim tabs per day — yet you only take one. Am I looking at the wrong product? Thanks!! – Suzy

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA December 19, 2016, 4:40 pm

      You are right, Rosanne – it’s a journey! 🙂

    • Rosanne December 19, 2016, 3:33 pm

      New Chapter has a website as well that gives you great information regarding their products.

  4. Darlene December 19, 2016, 12:36 am

    I agree with Irene that we should be thankful for all the useful, free information we
    receive. We can also choose to open our emails when it is convenient for us. A Merry Christmas Vivian!

  5. Marlene December 18, 2016, 2:31 pm

    Good morning Vivian,
    Excellent ! Thank you very much, I truly appreciated it.
    I continue to memorize some of the exercises that I received from you and become part of my daily routine.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Marlene

  6. Irena Uher December 18, 2016, 11:43 am

    Hi, Karen,
    Who are you, Queen of England to tell Ms. Vivian what to do and when? You should be glad that you are getting so many useful information and for free,
    You are the one to decide, when to read incoming email.
    Oh, Mamma Mia!
    Irena

  7. Jil Tunks December 17, 2016, 8:46 pm

    What type and how much calcium should I be taking each day? Calcium citrate was one type I read about that was recomended.
    Thanks

  8. Gulay Ahmet December 17, 2016, 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the email news its its but so near with 1 click to UK we are so blessed to have these emails from where ever we please. Thanks USA

  9. barbara taylor December 17, 2016, 1:30 pm

    What plant based calcium is best for bone health?

  10. William December 17, 2016, 6:06 am

    Please send

  11. Karen miller December 17, 2016, 3:08 am

    STOP any and all emails being sent before 8AM and after 5 PM… I do NOT want emails after hours! Kardn Miller

    • Save Institute Customer Support December 17, 2016, 6:26 am

      Hi Karen,

      We’re sorry for any disturbance! The Saver community is worldwide, so it’s impossible to accommodate everyone’s time zone with regard to e-mails. Is it possible for you to turn off your computer or phone when you go to bed, or at least turn off the speakers/sound? That should help! 🙂

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