Most of the normal activities we do around the house can be considered exercise, especially if we repeat the activity or movement many times in a row. Maintaining or even improving the ability to perform our daily activities is essential for quality of life. This is the fourth in a series of simple exercises that can performed at home (or anywhere).

Maintaining a moderate amount of strength in the shoulders and arms is essential for most daily tasks. Whether it is reaching for something in a cupboard, lifting a bag of groceries, eating or dressing, lifting your arm requires significant strength. Many injuries such as rotator cuff tears, “frozen shoulder” (adhesive capsulitis), and biceps tendinitis are caused by inadequate shoulder strength. Since people can lose up to 6% of their strength for everyday that they are inactive, finding a simple exercise to help maintain strength could help avoid injury.

An easy way to strengthen the arms and shoulders is by performing a modified push-up. Instead of performing a push-up horizontal to the ground (on your stomach), this version is performed standing at an incline. Find a sturdy countertop and stand a 12 to 24 inches away from the counter top. Place both of your hands shoulder width apart on the edge of the counter top and lean towards it, bending your elbows, until your trunk is 3-4 inches from the edge. Slowly push your trunk back up until your arms are straight again. Repeat 10-15 times once or twice a day.

This exercise can be made more difficult by moving your feet further away from the counter top, and by using a lower surface (such as a bench). To make this exercise easier, use a wall instead of a counter top.

Do not perform this exercise if it causes pain. Consult with your medical doctor or physical therapist if you have persistent shoulder or arm pain.

For instruction on how to perform this exercise properly and safely, join our supervised fitness training program or consult one our Santa Cruz personal trainers.