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Modifying exercise

Published on February 23, 2017

Modifying exercise

Alyssa Monson, Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Weight Management

Modifying exerciseDoes New Year’s and your resolution seem like a distant memory already? If yours is fitness-related, you may have felt the frustration of beginning a new exercise routine and not being able to complete the exercise because your range of motion is limited or it is just too hard right now. Keep reading for ways to modify almost any exercise to allow you to complete the exercise without injury or frustration.

Change the angle of your body. You can make an exercise easier (or harder) by changing the angle of your body. One of the best examples is a pushup. If the mere thought of doing a pushup makes your arms burn like mine, you can modify it by doing the pushup with your hands on a chair or almost upright with your hands on a wall. You also can do the pushups on your knees. Just make sure to always use your core keep your body a straight line (keep your butt down).

Reduce impact. If you have joint issues, eliminate jumps, hops and bounces. For example, instead of doing jump squats (sounds dangerous, right?), keep your feet planted on the ground and do a regular squat. Just make sure to keep your knees behind your toes.

Reduce the range of motion. Legs shaky after one squat? Continue the exercise, just do lower your body quite as far. Or for pushups, don’t try to touch your nose to the floor, just lower a few inches (or as far as you are comfortable) and raise back up.

Increase stability. Have you seen those pictures of people doing a squat on an exercise ball? They definitely didn’t just start doing this on their first day at the gym. Adding stability (feet on flat ground vs. on a bosu ball) will allow you to safely and confidently complete the exercise. If doing balance exercises (check back soon for exercises to increase balance!), use a chair to hold onto until you feel comfortable. If the exercise calls for one-legged repetitions, complete the exercise with both legs.

More modifications

  • Reduce speed
  • Reduce time or number of reps
  • Reduce load/weight

Combine any of these to ideas to help create exercise time that you enjoy and keeps you safe!

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About the Author

Alyssa Monson, RD

Alyssa Monson
Registered Dietitian
CentraCare Weight Management
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