‘Exercise is medicine’: Here are five easy ways to get moving

Sarah Hudson, CEO of Life Well Exercise ClinicHe is president The Fitness Industry Council of Canada

As we celebrate National Health and Fitness Day on Saturday 4th June, we’re inspiring Canadians to take action! The Fitness Industry Council of Canada – and some gyms across Canada – offer free all-day fitness events.

Exercise is medicine for our bodies and minds and research shows that 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise is necessary to prevent chronic health conditions and improve our mental health.

This seems a bit overwhelming, right?

This number may be something that is stopping people – literally – in their tracks, and we know that while some Canadians have embraced exercise during lockdown, many Canadians are becoming more sedentary. It doesn’t matter where you have been on your health journey – it matters where you are today and the fitness industry is celebrating movement as medicine for all Canadians this week!

We’ve created a great circuit for you to run in the garden, in your own backyard, or at the gym!

Grab a friend (or two) and test out this training circuit!

1. Squat

Lower your hips back and down in a chair position (squatting) and keep going. Push through the legs to stand up, stop and repeat. You can also challenge the squat by raising your heels while standing (this is the calf raise), or by adding a vertical jump off the floor, then lower back into a squat position and repeat.


The Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Many of our members at the LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic have knee problems, and so we make adjustments during our customized programs. Remember, you don’t have to squat down and if you sustain an injury, strengthening the muscles around the joint is essential to regain strength and movement!

Adjustments: sit up. Place your hips on the front edge of the bench with your feet on the floor and behind your knees. Tilt your upper body slightly forward and bring your legs to a full standing position. Slowly lower yourself back to the seated position you started in. This is a great thing to do on a park bench!

2. Move your plank!

Mountain Climbers is an incredibly challenging full-body workout that involves our core muscles and the entire upper body. We begin in a plank position – the feet are back, the wrists and shoulders are aligned, the belly button is pulled in. If you want to make it a little easier, use a garden bench and go down a slope.


The Fitness Industry Council of Canada

From a plank position with hands on the floor or in this inclined position, pull one knee toward your chest followed by the other knee and repeat alternately.

This is a very advanced step, so if you still want to get that basic work done here, you can modify your mountain climber by doing the knee raise while sitting!

in sittingRaise both arms straight in front of you at shoulder level and hold. Lift one knee up to lift your foot off the ground, pause, then lower it and repeat the process on the other leg.

Repeat alternately side by side

3. walking lunges or step ups

Have you ever seen an exercise camp in a park? You’ve probably seen the trainer do walking lunges because they are great for a whole body challenge.


The Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Start with your feet shoulder width apart, your arms at your side, or your hands on your hips. Step forward with one leg, placing your body weight on your front foot and bend both knees down into a lunge (front thigh parallel to the floor). Push your back foot to move your back leg forward to meet your front leg and repeat one over the other. Here’s a fun tip to do with friends: lunge 10 times toward each other, get high five times, and then keep going!

A great modification is to take the stairs and take a step up. With one foot flat on the stairs, push down over the front foot to stand. Lift your other foot to meet the front leg. Step aside and repeat.

Do equal repetitions on both sides. Raise your left leg to meet the right only after the right leg is completely straight to make sure your working leg is doing all the work.

4. Triceps dips or push-ups

The triceps pull or pushup is a great way to add upper body strength to any circuit. Both movements have modifications!


The Fitness Industry Council of Canada

dips: Sitting on a park bench, put your hands close to each other. Lift yourself off the seat, keeping the tailbone close. Lower your glutes lower, bend at the joint below, and lower yourself up again with your arms fully extended. Adjustments: If you don’t have all arm strength, push your hips away from the bench, then sit back up.

push ups: Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Straighten your arms and legs. From your hands and knees (or feet), lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor. Pause, then push yourself back. Many of us in the fitness industry still do knee push-ups – you don’t have to be on our toes to reap the benefits of pushups!

5. Abdominal cycle

stomach muscles

The Fitness Industry Council of Canada

Lie on the floor, gently place your hands on either side of your head and lift your head and shoulders off the mat. Lift one leg off the floor and extend it outwards. Lift the other leg and bend your knee toward your chest and wrap it through your torso/torso to bring the opposite elbow toward the raised knee. Simultaneously lower your leg and arm while raising opposite ends to reflect the movement. Modifications: With your knees bent, lift your shoulders off the mat and do a small abdominal bend. Cross your right knee into your chest.

You can also make a circle:

Take each step and implement the following suggestions:

  • New or returning to fitness: Perform each movement for 30 seconds with a 30-second recovery.
  • Medium: Perform each movement for 45 seconds with a 15-second recovery, 4-6 sets (20-30 minutes)
  • Advanced: Perform each movement for 1 minute in a row, taking 1 minute to recover. Repeat 203 times (for 15-20 minutes).

Resistance training is a must for all of us, but if you’re just starting out with exercise again, here’s what I recommend:


Take a walk alone or with a friend and put your heart rate in a moderate zone.

How do you know what this is?

At our LIVE WELL clinics, we monitor the heart rates and blood pressure of our members to ensure they are exercising safely and getting the most out of their workouts. But you can monitor your intensity with a speaking test…..

If you are at an easy pace, you can easily talk to the person next to you. A moderate pace means that you focus more on the effort of walking then talking. difficult pace? You don’t talk to anyone! The reason the speaking test works so well is that everyone has an easy, medium, or hard area.

Walking provides many benefits for both the body and the mind, soet’s MOVE on National Health and Fitness Day.