The late, great Jack LaLanne, who passed away in January 2011 at the age of 96, was the original television fitness guru, and he enjoyed simple exercises that got big results. "You've got 640 muscles," LaLanne said in a 2008 interview [source: LaLanne]. "They all need a share of work."
For LaLanne, core strength set the tone for the rest of the body. Though a tireless advocate of weight training and swimming, LaLanne also was a big believer in isometrics, or using the body's own weight to provide resistance. One of his favorite exercises was the seated bicycle pedal:
- Sitting in your chair, scoot down to the edge of the seat.
- Support your upper body on the armrests.
- Pretend you're riding a bicycle, bringing each knee near the chest, keeping the abdominal muscles contracted.
- Concentrate on "pedaling" in smooth circles.
Variety, LaLanne said, was the key to making this, or any exercise, enjoyable. "Every 30 days, I do something different," he said. "So, for 30 days, I'll do everything real fast. The next 30 days, I'll do everything real slow."
According to Bowling, the most important element to doing the Seated Bicycle Pedal safely is to keep your back straight. "Tuck the tailbone to prevent arching," she said [source: Bowling].
Up next, it's the twist -- Russian-style.