Valentine’s Day is approaching and love is in the air. Love yourself. Love someone else. Either way, you can use exercise as your elixir.

Instead of rewarding yourself or a loved one with sweet treats and chocolates, try some comforting exercises as you count down the days to Valentine’s Day. You don’t need a partner, but a partner will work if you want to include someone.

Show Your Body Some Love

Use these ideas with clients to teach them to love their bodies. You can incorporate some or all of these exercises/positions in a training session. You may want to do them along with your clients.

Legs Up The Wall With John And Cali1. Legs up the wall is a pose that can help you relax, meditate, and let the low back muscles chill. The closer you get your butt to the wall, the better. Stretch your feet and legs up on a wall and relax your arms by your sides or at goal post (arms in a “T”). Hang out for a bit and reap rewards many have found, like better sleep and decreased muscle soreness.

2. Grip an overhead bar and hang for several seconds. You can feel the tension releasing throughout your whole your body. Do this solo or tandem. Doing this several times a day and building up your endurance according to an orthopedist named John Kirsch is purported to improve shoulder mobility, pain syndromes, and correct impingements.

3. A big hug is all you need. Lie on a mat with arms overhead and legs stretched out comfortably for a full-body stretch. Then, bend your knees and wrap your arms around your legs for a big hug. It’s a great stretch, but a greater hug for one.

4. Foam roll the aches and pains away. Self-massage is a great way to nurture your body.

5. Take a walk outside, preferably in a green space. Evidence continues to support the value of exercising in nature. It’s good for your body and your psyche. A walk is an easy way to warm-up or cool down after a workout. Walk with your client.

6. Use a block, stability ball, or BOSU ball for an assisted backbend. This is a great shoulder opener and stress reliever.

7. Throw a few jabs and punches at a punching bag to release tension.

8. If the gym has a pool, take advantage of the opportunity to swim and float. Swim with a flotation device with small kicks to get your body moving without pushing it (still focusing on loving your body). Let your cares float away gliding through the water.

9. Slow your pace down whatever you’re doing, whether it’s lifting weights, riding a bike, climbing Jacob’s Ladder, using the elliptical, or whatever the day’s routine entails.

10. Play spa-type music during your workout, and slow down your tempo a bit.

11. Hang forward over a balance ball. Let your arms and legs relax as your body goes limp. There are so many times during a day that we tense up, let this pose counteract the tension.

12. Make sure to stretch every part of your body beginning at the neck and working down to the toes.

13. Wind down after exercise. Sit cross-legged and close your eyes. Focus on your breath for a little meditation.

14. After working out, lie down on an acupressure mat. The mat allows your body to create its own heat to relax muscles in the back and shoulders. Many people use these mats to help relax before sleep.

Whether you count down or pick and choose some of these, each one is a way to express appreciation for all we put our bodies through.

Kim Becknell Williams

Kim Becknell Williams is a freelance writer with more than ten years of personal training experience. Certified through NFPT, she is a Functional Training Specialist and holds a Master Trainer level certificate for resistance, endurance and sports nutrition. Kim has written two books including Gym Etiquette 101. She enjoys writing a variety of lifestyle articles and fitness blogs.