Exercise, it’s not meant to be a punishment

What if exercise was enjoyable?

  • A walk around the park with a friend or your dog.
  • Spending an hour or so in the garden.
  • Putting on a favourite song and dancing around the house.
  • Active play with a child or dog.

What if it was built into your lifestyle?

  • Housework.
  • Carrying the groceries into the house.
  • Taking the dog for a walk, even though it’s -2 outside.

Exercise does not always have to be strict and regimental, though it may have its place in rehabilitation. For me, exercise is about enjoyment, connection and exploration. In relation to healthy weight loss and maintenance, exercise and movement can assist in tipping the energy balance, promoting energy expenditure. However, it’s easier to say you are starting on Monday than starting on Monday.

So, if it has been a while:

  • Start slow, less is more. We want to avoid injuries and setbacks.
  • Try non-weight bearing exercise such as cycling (stationary, recumbent or old school), swimming, water aerobics or walking in the pool.
  • Or try gentle stretches and mobilising movements.
  • Short walks, figure out what you are comfortable with and add an extra 10% each a week.
  • Consistency is key. A little each day adds up at the end of the week.

Are you feeling unsure, in pain, concerned about injuries or would like assistance on where to start? Book in with an osteopath (yes, we can give exercise advice and assist with pain through manual therapy, education, lifestyle and exercise advice), exercise physiologist or physiotherapist.


Three exercise suggestions to get you moving

Side lying leg raise; hold

Time for your Jane Fonda moment! Leotards are encouraged but not compulsory.

This exercise targets your gluteus medius and minimus which assist in stabilising your pelvis and hips as you walk and move around. They may assist in preventing or the management of gluteus medius tendinopathy and/or greater trochanteric bursitis. This may be performed in bed (if supportive enough) or on the floor.


  1. Lay on your side with the bottom leg slightly bent, top leg straight and hips stacked on top of each other. Head supported by a pillow or folded towel.
  2. Lift the top leg towards the ceiling, approximately 10-30cm, keeping your hips stacked and stable. Only go as high as is comfortable. Cue: Draw your hip bone towards the crest of your pelvis.
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Bring your leg down. Rest for an equal amount of time that you held the leg up.
  4. Repeat twice. Total of 3 repetitions.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Progression; movement

  1. Follow steps 1 &2 as above
  2. Hold 1-2 seconds and bring the leg down.
  3. No rest, bring the leg up again.
  4. 12-15 repetitions.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Further progression may include using an ankle weight or theraband (or similar) for resistance.


Chest opener

Another exercise that may be performed in bed or on the floor. A great movement for anyone that works at a desk or finds their shoulders rounded. This assists in stretching the pecs (chest muscles) and rotating the thoracics (upper back).


  1. Lay on your side with hips and knees bent at approximately 90 degrees and stacked on top of each other. Shoulders are stacked as well.
  2. Arms are straight out in front of you at shoulder height, palms touching.
  3. Lift the top arm up and allow it to move in an arc, rotating your upper back with it.
  4. Stop when you have gone as far as you can and can feel a gentle stretch across the chest. Note: Avoid pulling too far back on your shoulder, ensure your shoulder is comfortable at all times. Stretching across the chest may vary person to person.
  5. Hold for 1-2 seconds.
  6. Return to the starting position with palms together.
  7. Repeat 5-12 repetitions. Increase as the movement becomes easier.
  8. Repeat on the opposite side.

Modification: If your hips hurt or it doesn’t feel quite right, try sitting on chair or the side of the bed with your feet on the ground.


Sit to Stand

An integral movement in life and mobility, and the second half of a squat. This aspect of a squat concentrates on the activation of the gluteal muscles (bottocks muscles) and should hopefully avoid aggravating any knee pain. However, if you are concerned or unsure, please seek professional supervision or assistance.


  1. Start seated on a chair which is a comfortable height with your hands on your knees, out in front of you at shoulder height or hands together held at your chest.
  2. Ensure your feet are under your knees and flat on the ground.
  3. Take a breath in.
  4. As you breathe out, lift your hips until you are in a standing position. Activating your gluteal muscles as you stand up. Note: Breathing out as if through a straw will assist in lifting the pelvic floor and can make standing easier.
  5. Sit down.
  6. Repeat up to 20 repetitions. Note: start with 2-5 repetitions and increase daily or as it gets easier. When easy, increase the number of sets, up to 3 and then progress to squat with a chair.

Progression; squat with a chair

  1. Follow steps 1-4 as above.
  2. As you come down towards the chair control the movement to stop just as your thighs touch the chair seat and breathing in. Keep your glute muscles activated to support you in this position. Note: Avoid tucking your tailbone in, a squat should be similar to sitting down.
  3. As in step 4 above, bring your hips up to standing and breathing out like you are breathing through a straw.
  4. Repeat 5-20 repetitions.

Further progression may include holding a weight (either gym or small bag of potatoes), a band around the thighs to add resistance for the gluteus medius and/or squats without a chair.

These exercises are suggestions, if you have injuries, are unsure or concerned, please speak to your osteopath, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist.


If you made it this far, a little personal note from your osteopath, Dr Tanya-Sue Uscinas.

Last year, the disruption of COVID and Melbourne lockdowns hit me hard; I ate way too much guilt free lasagna and chocolate. Combine this with stepping into my 30’s, I put on weight and became uncomfortable in my own skin. At this time, a friend introduced me to body neutrality. I learnt that I don’t have to love or hate everything or anything about my body. I can appreciate what it is capable of (A LOT) and support its needs. Embodying this concept takes practice, but it can be worth it. Curious? Click here to check out this article.

I often advise my patients to move, so I have taken my own advice and am now dancing like nobody’s watching in my lounge room each evening. This is my enjoyment, connection and exploration of what my body feels like when I move. What’s yours?


For a personalised exercise program, Dr Tanya-Sue Uscinas (Osteo) can develop this for you. Call (02) 6260 5777 to book in.