Jun 4, 2021 Four Exercises Almost Everybody Can (and Should) Do

Stuck indoors and sitting too much? These simple, highly effective conditioning exercises will put you on the road to fitness.

Exercise can be fun, but it doesn’t have to be flashy,” says bariatric surgeon Naveen Ballem, MD, Medical Director of the Bariatric Program and Chief Clinical Effectiveness Officer at Clara Maass Medical Center. “Every exercise we do should be straightforward and have a specific goal attached to it. For best results, keep it simple—and keep it consistent.”

Naveen Ballem, MD
Naveen Ballem MD

That’s the thinking behind the four exercises shown on these pages, which require no equipment or special skills. These moves have benefits for people who are experiencing aches and stiffness due to a sedentary lifestyle.

“Exercises that strengthen hip and gluteus maximus muscles are commonly recommended by personal trainers to help people with the normal activities of everyday life, such as picking up groceries, placing items on a high shelf or getting up from a chair,” Dr. Ballem says.

“I also highly recommend cardio exercises. Even a 15-minute interval, like a brisk walk, is very beneficial for the heart,” he says.

Think of the exercises shown on these pages as a sneak peek at what a personal trainer might recommend for you. Caution: If you have any health issues that might impair your ability to exercise, be sure to consult with your doctor first.

Belly Breathing

  • Lie on a flat surface, knees bent and feet on the ground.
  • Place one hand on your stomach, one on your chest.
  • Slowly breathe in through your stomach, not your chest, then breathe out through your stomach. If you are doing the breath correctly, you will feel your stomach fill up, not your chest. (Use your hand placement as guidance.)
  • Do 10 times. Take a quick break, then do two more sets of 10 repetitions.

Note: If you have problems lying on a flat surface, sit on the edge of a sturdy chair, nice and tall, with good posture (see photo above). Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest and proceed as directed above.

Oxygen flow to lower back, hip and abdominal muscles is increased, relieving tightness and tension and enabling them to move better.

Belly breathing pic 1

Belly breathing pic 2


  • Lay flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, toes pointed straight and about hip- or shoulder-width apart.
  • Squeeze your gluteus maximus muscles (buttocks). Keeping them squeezed, lift hips up into the air. Be careful not to move them too high; shoulders, knees and hips should be in a straight line.
  • Hold for a count of 5 to 10.
  • seconds. Come back down and relax for a second or two. Do a total of 10 repetitions, then two more sets of 10 repetitions.

Improves posture and hip strength; helps to keep feet straight when walking so that walking feels easier.

Bridging exercise

Standing Hip Extension

  • Press both hands against a wall, palms flat, arms extended at shoulder height or a bit lower.
  • Stand with good posture (ribs lifted a bit).
  • Lift one leg up to approximately a 90-degree angle, driving knee toward chest; hold for 5 to 8 seconds.
  • While you are in the “up” position, squeeze the glute muscle of the leg that’s on the ground.
  • Put leg back down. Do a total of five times, then switch legs.
  • Do a total of three sets.

Strengthens the gluteus maximus, the meaty posterior muscle that extends the hip, improving posture and back health.

Standing hip extension exercise

Sit-to-Stand Exercise

  • Facing away from a stable chair, such as a kitchen chair (not a soft, cushioned chair). Feet should be shoulder-width apart and toes pointed straight.
  • Push your butt back toward the chair while simultaneously reaching your arms forward.
  • Move down slowly until your butt touches the chair, then stand back up slowly. Knees will bend, but put the primary focus on pushing your hip muscles back and reaching your arms forward.
  • Do three times. Do a total of 10 repetitions.
  • As muscle strength improves, do squats without using a chair for support.

Squatting is a prerequisite to walking well. Strengthens leg and hip muscles. Helps with mobility in getting up from a chair, bed or toilet. Stronger muscles improve knee health and lead to better gait and posture.

Sit-to-stand exercise

Weight Loss Surgery: Information and Support

Clara Maass Medical Center hosts virtual sessions open to all.

  • Bariatric Surgery Online Information Seminar
    April 5, May 3 and June 7, from 6 to 7 p.m. A bariatric surgeon discusses the bariatric surgery journey, from the procedures to the risks and benefits.
    Register here
  • Weight Loss Support Group
    April 7, May 5 and June 7, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This after-surgery support group allows you to share and discuss your experiences with your peers, as well as address topics to assist you in your weight loss journey.
    Register here

Learn more about weight loss and bariatric surgery; visit Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, New Jersey.