Nikolai Amosov was a Russian cardiologist who sought to regain his own health and mobility with exercises in the 1950s. In this quest he put together a series of 10 exercises, most of which are to be performed 100 repetitions each or in accordance with each person's physical limits. The exercises are:
chair squats, side bends, pushups, forward bends, straight arm raises, torso twists, one legged jumps, bringing the elbows back as if to touch them together behind the back, leg raised, "birch tree" which is shoulder stand in yoga, sucking in the stomach. Some sources include situps.
Here is a link to the exercises: http://kpi.ua/en/node/10224
I have been experimenting with doing the exercises for the last few weeks pretty much every day. Basically you are moving all your joints through their range of motion, doing an upper middle and lower exercise (pushup, leg lift, squat), inverting to get the blood flow to the heart and head ("birch tree") and doing the something akin to stomach vacuums. I have found the following benefits:
1. Increased flexibility without stretching. Going through the range of motion with so many reps warms up the muscles and staying in one's range of motion allows the body to see that it is ok to allow a little more range of motion. In this way resting muscle tension is decreased and chronic pain such as the all pervading low back pain is eliminated.
2. Body strengthening. This is obvious from the use of the three strengthen exercises of pushup, leg lift and squat. Strength is also increased from the range of motion exercises because they restore proper muscle tone. If a muscle has a higher resting muscle tone than it should it will work against the antagonist muscle thereby decreasing one's usable strength. In other words reducing resting muscle tension to a normal level allows so that one doesn't fight against themselves when using strength.
3. Massage of the organs. The range of motion, inversion and stomach sucking exercises increase blood flow to the organs. This is highly beneficial to maintain health and often overlooked in modern exercise regimens which focus exclusively on "flexibility" through forced stretching and strength exercises.
Overall it is very beneficial for overall health, strength, mobility and longevity. It will increase the efficacy of any acupuncture treatments a person receives. Many Chinese qigong routines are joint mobility exercises shrouded in mystery and esoteric promises. Amosov's routine is well thought out and simple enough it can be used by almost anyone.
If you have any questions about the exercises please contact me at bangobanjo @ g mail.com