Fitting in Fitness

Congratulations. You have kick-started or geared up your exercise program. But how do you retain this newfound fitness when you go back to your daily routine? Do you have what it takes to keep up with the life enhancing habits that you are now becoming accustomed to? I hope that some of these simple tips will be useful to you to assist you in maintaining your fitness program. Of course, always honor your body and make any modifications or adjustments to these fit tips that are appropriate for you. Feel free to flex your creative muscles by coming up with your own fit tips and be sure to share them.

It is great if you can get to a gym and workout for an hour a day, five days a week. But sometimes in the real world, your schedule or perhaps even your energy level may not permit logging in hours at a gym. That is why it is so important to make a habit of incorporating fitness into your day. Even five or ten minute increments of exercise done five or ten times throughout the course of your day will result in increased fitness levels. When you couple this with a brisk walk, a weight room workout or stretch class, all the better for you.

In order to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy cardiovascular system you must increase your heart rate. Try to do something that makes you break a sweat every single day. A cumulative time of thirty minutes or more is better, but if you can only fit in ten, at least you get that.

    * Make a habit of parking at the end of the parking lot and walk a little faster to your destination.

    * Increase your stride – take longer, quicker steps everywhere you go.

    * (Assuming you are in a safe place), take the stairs instead of the elevator. You might even want to try to walk up two steps at a time instead of just one.

    * At your office building, take the stairs up a flight or two to use a restroom on a different level.

    * If you are at the mall, park near the store the farthest from the one you want to go to. Every step counts.

    * If you take a bus or train somewhere, get off a stop sooner and walk the rest of the distance.v
    * Brown bag a healthy lunch and enjoy it at the park after a brisk walk.

    * Instead of lounging in the pool, why not do some water aerobics. Sit on a noodle; move your legs like you are bicycling around the pool. There are an endless number of exercises you can come up with. Flex your creative muscles at the same time.

    * Volunteer to walk the dog (or your neighbor’s dog – you can make a new friend in the process).

    * While watching television, spend a couple minutes marching in place, doing knee-kicks or half-jumping jacks.

    * Turn the radio up and dance around while you are cleaning the house. Really exaggerate your movements and allow your body to feel good.

You also want to be strong, increase your bone density and rev up your metabolism by participating in strength training. Hand weights can be purchased very inexpensively or you can use water bottles, books or many other items found around your home or workplace for resistance. Isometric exercises (where you tighten a muscle and hold the contraction) are also very effective and you do not necessarily need to use weights at all. The following are some ideas to help you slip some body toning exercises into your daily routine. When performed with very light or no weights, these exercises can be performed on a daily basis. Many of the following exercises can be done in public places. In certain instances you may want to be alone when performing these exercises or at least inform any observers that your are fitting in fitness into your daily routine and invite the to join you. If you have a question about the proper form of any exercise, please speak to a qualified fitness professional.

Lower Body:

    * When you go to sit down in the chair, just before your bottom touches the seat, hold for a second or two, then sit down.

    * If you are walking down a long hallway, perhaps at work, at an appointment or in an apartment building, do lunge walks. (Take a step with your right leg, bend the left knee straight down towards the ground, straighten the left knee, and step the left foot forward to meet the right. Repeat taking a step with the left leg and allowing the right leg to lunge. Build up to walking the entire length of the hallway.)

    * While in (or waiting for an elevator) take the opportunity to do some squats or lunges.

    * Holding onto a reception desk, or the back of a chair or do not hold on to anything at all if you want to work on your balance: bring the leg forward and bend and straighten the knee – feel this in the front of the leg; bring the leg behind you and bend and straighten the knee; you can also point the toe and/or turn the toe out to the side and lift that straight leg behind you – feel this in the back of the leg and gluteal area; lift the straight leg out to the side and make circles in each direction – feel this in the hips; lift the legs out to the side to work the outer thighs and across the mid-line of the body to work the inner thighs. You should notice that the standing leg is also getting a great workout. Make sure you do this on each leg.

Core:

    * During every other commercial on television for a one hour period of time, get down on the floor and do a different core building exercise such as abdominal crunches, holding a plank pose, side crunches, walking with the legs in the air, get on your hands and knees and alternatively lift the right arm and left leg and then the left arm and right leg, etc. You will be in great shape in no time.

    * Just getting down on the floor and then getting back up may be a challenge and is a good test of your physical fitness. Take some time each day to get down on the floor. Make it a game and play with your kids or grandkids or a pet.

    * While seated in a chair, (at work, in the kitchen or maybe while your are sitting in a booth a your favorite health food restaurant) support your lower back by placing your hands by your side and either hold your legs straight out in front of you or you can challenge yourself by making a walking movement with your legs.

Upper Body:

    * When you are down on the floor during a commercial on television, you might as well do a set or two of 10-12 push-ups. Modified push-ups (the ones where you bend your knees) are okay too.

    * You can also sneak in some push-ups against a wall or using the edge of a desk or table.

    * You can use a dictionary or a jug of water instead of a weight to add resistance when doing a bicep curl (hold a book with both hands, arms are straight down, keep your elbows close to your body, bend the elbows so the book goes from mid-leg to upper chest.) Start out with two sets of 10-15 repetitions.

    * Holding a book or a bottle of water in each hand, with your arms out to the side, the elbows bent and your hands about the height of your ears, push the arms straight up to the ceiling (but do not lock your elbows) then slowly bring the arms back down to return to the starting position.

    * Work your triceps with the help of a stable chair or a desk or table. Sitting on the edge of the chair bring your hands to the edge, right next to your thighs with your fingers pointing out. Move your bottom off of the chair and then bend and straighten the elbows.

Yogic activities including stretching, breathing and a concentration or meditation practice will help you to relieve stress, improve mental focus, enhance your flexibility and develop your balance. Again, it is best to learn about correct form from a fitness professional. Trust your own instincts and get to know what is good for your body and then do it!

Stretches:

    * You can point and flex the feet and circle the ankles in each direction while lying down, sitting in a chair at work, chatting with a friend over cards or while standing up and getting a balance challenge at the same time.

    * Stretch the back with a pelvic tilt when lying down. You can also get on your hands and knees and round and release your spine. From a standing position, lean forward with a flat back and slowly roll up to a stand, one vertebra at a time, neck is last.

    * Open your hips by coming to the front of a kitchen or office chair, cross one leg over the other, so that the outside ankle of one leg comes to the knee of the other, then lengthen through the back as you lean forward.

    * After spending time holding the phone up with one shoulder, counter balance by stretching the opposite ear to the opposite shoulder as the one that you were holding the phone with.

Stress-busters:

    * First thing in the morning, before getting out of bed, take several breaths, visualize what you want to achieve then focus your mind on having a great day.

    *Before you accept a phone call, take a long, deep breath and then exhale with a sigh (Aaaahhhh).

    * From time to time during the course of your day, just stop. Take a moment to be in the present. Taste what you are eating, feel what you are touching, notice what you are thinking.

    * If you are sitting in traffic (you might want to put the car in park first), take a deep breath in, as you exhale, roar like a lion (Rroooaaaarrr) while at the same time splaying open the fingers, open your eyes really wide, open your mouth and stick out your tongue.

    * Take a break. Find a serene place and just spend a couple of minutes being grateful.

    * Before bed, just allow your mind to be quiet. Allow your awareness to follow the breath in and out, like a gentle wave on the shoreline. Silently repeat a positive affirmation and program yourself to sleep well.

Aerobics, strength training, flexibility training and relaxation are all key components of fitness. It is important that you find the right balance for you. Find different activities that you enjoy and do them every day. Change up your routine from time to time so that you stay motivated and help your body to stay fit. Find ways to sneak fitness into your daily schedule and you will enjoy the benefits of a healthier life.