When we think of inflammation in the body, we almost always think of the inflammatory foods we regret to have just eaten, you know foods like fried chicken, curly cheese fries, and ice cream sundaes. But sedentary behaviors affect inflammation, too, so exercising can help cool chronic inflammation just as eating a healthier diet can. (See: What Happens To Your Body When You Sit All Day)
Inflammation in your body damages cells and can cause a host of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and weight gain. It can also make your body look, feel, and function as if it’s older than that it actually is. “Researchers have coined the catchy new term—Inflammaging—to describe how inflammation can accelerate the aging process,” says Mike Zimmerman, author of the Eat This, Not That! book The 14-Day Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
Chronic low-grade inflammation is when your body’s immune system in a state of constant attack. While swapping out processed foods for fresh anti-inflammatory produce (the best ones are named in Zimmerman’s book) is the best way to tame inflammation, starting an exercise program follows closely behind. And strength training seems particularly helpful for reducing the age-accelerating effects of inflammation.
Consider this study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Researchers broke a group of 103 previously sedentary people into aerobic training, strength training, and control groups. Both exercise groups saw their blood levels of an inflammation marker called C-reactive protein drop, but the resistance training group’s numbers dropped 32%, double that of the aerobic group. Other studies have suggested similar anti-inflammatory benefits of strength training.
Why not give resistance training a shot to try reducing this silent ager? After consulting with exercise physiologists, Zimmerman devised this simple beginner program that requires nothing but your own body weight for resistance and just a few square feet of space in which to move around. It’s called 3-3-3 because it’s made up of just 3 exercises (you choose them) performed for one minute each (3 minutes total) for 3 total rounds. That’s just 9 minutes of pushing yourself, but it will obviously take you a bit longer when you factor in resting as you need it. “Take the rest you need between minutes,” says Zimmerman. “The idea here is to challenge your muscles, not set world records.”
Choose three of the following suggested exercises that were chosen because they’re generally well-known (no exotic moves to learn), hit multiple muscle groups in your body in a short time, and require no equipment and little space. Do the 3-3-3 workout three times a week leaving a day in between to do some cardiovascular exercise like brisk walking or biking. And for more ways to reduce inflammation, don’t miss these 14 Tips to Reduce Inflammation to Lose Weight Faster, According to RDs.
Assume a pushup position but with your weight on your forearms. Brace your abs, clench your glutes, and keep your body straight from head to heel. Raise your right leg and hold it for five seconds. Then lower it and raise your left leg for five seconds. Alternate legs for the allotted time.
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Place your hands on your hips and assume a staggered stance, left leg forward. Slowly lower your body as far as you can, and then jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor. Switch legs in midair and land with your right leg forward. That’s one rep. Switch leg positions with each explosive jump. Make sure to follow these instructions closely—you don’t want to make any of the 6 Exercise Mistakes That Prevent Weight Loss, According to Experts.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward (or “north”) with your right leg and lower your body until the top of your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left knee comes close to the floor. Push back to standing and repeat the exercise while hitting points on the compass (northeast, east, etc.). NOTE: Northern lunges are forward, southern are reverse, east and west are side lunges. When you hit “due south,” switch legs and continue until you reach north again. Do as much as you can in the allotted time.
Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Straighten your arms and legs. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, and push yourself back up. Repeat for the allotted time.
Lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Clench your glutes as you reach the top of the movement. Pause, and then lower your body back to the starting position. (Getting a bit overwhelmed? Then maybe you can check out The 30-Second Trick That Packs on Muscle, According to an Exercise Expert.)
Assume a push-up position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Without allowing your lower-back posture to change, lift your left foot off the floor and move your left knee toward your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg. Alternate the move with each leg quickly.
Stand with your hands on the back of your head and your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat for the allotted time.
Are you ready for more? Then grab a pair of dumbbells and try This Total Body Home Workout that Builds Strength and Burns Calories Fast.