For people who are too time-strapped to go to the gym for a workout, here are some exercises easy enough to be done from home and quick enough to be squeezed into your daily schedules:
Move your ankle around slowly in a circle. Do this 10 times one way, then repeat in the opposite direction.
Squeeze your shoulder blades back and together, and hold for five seconds. Hen pull your shoulder blades downwards and hold for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Stand up straight and lower your arm to one side. Bend your arm slowly upwards so it's now touching your shoulder. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 10 times. This can also be done with a lightweight.
Sit down, tilt your head down towards your shoulder, leading with your ear. Gently tense your neck muscles and hold for five seconds. Do this on the opposite side. Repeat five times.
Lie down with your knees bent. Tighten your stomach muscles, flattening your back against the floor. Hold for five seconds. Repeat five times.
Straight leg raise
Sit back in a chair with a straight back. Straighten and raise one of your legs. Hold for a slow count to 10, then try it with the outer leg. Repeat 10 times.
Stand with one hand resting on a table for support. Lift your leg straight up to the side, hold for five seconds, and then slowly lower it. Keep your body straight throughout. Repeat five times on each side.
Bend your elbow to 90 degrees with your palm facing down. Rotate your forearm, so that your palm faces up and then down.
Why is it hard to restart your exercise habit?
The answer may lie in a vital protein in the body
Once your daily exercise habit lapses, it can be extremely hard to take up the reins and get back into your usual routine. If you thought it was just muscles getting lazy, think again. Research from Leeds University, UK, shows it goes deeper.
Your deconditioning could be due to the deactivation of a vital protein in the body, Piezol, which increases the number of vessels carrying blood to the muscles. Switching off Piezol cuts down the blood flow to muscles, making exercise difficult and reducing how much you can do.
The results would help to explain why workouts, jogging, and even walking become harder if you break the habit.
Fiona Bartoli, a postdoctoral researcher at Leeds Medical School, UK, said, "Our study highlights the crucial link between physical activity and performance made at this level by Piezol."
While the experiments were carried out on mice, the same protein is found in human beings as well, suggesting similar results would occur in us.
"Unfortunately, many people fail to exercise enough, for reasons such as injury and computer usage. This puts people more at risk. The fewer people exercise, the less fit they become, often leading to a downward spiral," said Bartoli. "Keeping Piezols active by exercising may be crucial in our physical performance and health."
Two groups of mice - a control group whose Piezol levels had been disrupted for 10 weeks were studied when walking, climbing, and running.
The Piezol - disrupted mice showed a striking reduction in activity levels, suggesting an important part is played by the protein in sustaining normal physical activity.
Researchers considered whether the mice were just less interested in exercise, but they found no difference in the duration or amount of activity between the two groups. Instead, the mice just ran more slowly, suggesting their ability to exercise had lessened, rather than the desire to do it.
Supervising author professor David Beech said: "Our work sheds new light on how Piezol's role in blood vessels is connected to physical activity. It also provides an opportunity to think about how the loss of muscle function could be treated in new ways. If we activate Piezol, it might help to maintain exercise capability.