Do you exercise? When most individuals in the United States think of exercise, they think structured exercise perhaps of a gym environment with machines or a structured class of aerobics or Zumba or yoga. The fitness industry can offer a variety of ways to put in some body work. Exercise is important to keeping our heart and cardiovascular system healthy, keeping us strong by building muscle and helping us have energy for our daily lives. We in the US tend to live sedentary yet stressful lives. Sitting is now the new smoking. Most people complain that they do not have the time or money for structured exercise.
This blog is to encourage the people who do not have the time or money to dedicate to structured fitness. There are many things you can still squeeze in, disguise into your daily life that can fit some fitness into your daily life. First of all, you have to embrace the value of some type of physical activity as a way to get more fitness into your life. Commit to just adding more standing and more movement to things you have to do every day. If you have a desk job, see if you can get an adjustable standing desk which would allow you to stand for part of the day as you work on the computer or complete tasks. If that is not possible, bring a new photo or memento to work to put on your desk. Every time you notice your new piece of desk décor, let it remind you to do a few backward shoulder rolls or shoulder blade pinches or stand and do a few squats at your desk chair or side leg kicks. Take the stairs at work rather than an elevator and park farther in the parking lot to get more walking into your day.
Mowing the lawn? Try to increase your pace/speed and really concentrate on putting your arms into pushing the mower. Gardening and yard clean up tasks can be good workouts that involve full body movements and multiple body movement patterns that gym machines which work on very fixed, linear path movements cannot offer.
Cooking in the kitchen? Do some buttock squeezes while stirring the sauce on the stove, use the island or counter to do some mini push-ups. Squat between setting each place setting at the table. Sneak in a few backward bends while putting groceries away. Use items in your pantry for free weights: small and large soup/vegetable cans may be used for bicep curls, triceps extensions, straight arm lifts. Do 10-15 repetitions with these items several times a week. Gallon jugs of milk, juice or laundry detergent also make great free weights.
Watching TV? Resolve to stand on commercial breaks and march in place, walk around that level of the house, or stretch your upper body. Use the commercials as a trigger to move!
Taking kids to sporting practice? Do not sit in your car – throw your tennis shoes on and walk the field or the track, bring a few handheld weights and do an arm workout. Vary your speeds while walking. Hold on to handheld weights while walking. Recruit others to work out with you. Chances are there are other harried parents who need to exercise there too. Grab an extra soccer ball and kick or throw to each other, lift an extra baseball bat overhead and do some body stretches.
Long Commute? When at a stoplight or stuck in traffic, do some tummy tighteners by slowly pulling your tummy toward your back without holding your breath and hold the contraction for 5-10 seconds. Try to do 3 sets of 10 reps. Do backward shoulder rolls and shoulder blade pinches or try to avoid forward head by retracting your head over your neck trying to align your ears with your shoulders. Side to side head tilting can stretch out a stiff neck and relieve stress. Practice good diaphragmatic breathing by taking a good deep breath and feeling and seeing your belly move not your chest. Breathe deep, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds. For women, Kegel pelvic floor exercises can also be done in the car. Try to work up to 10-20 contractions per day.
Taking a shower? The warm water primes your muscles for stretch. Place your hands against a corner of the wall at shoulder height and lean into this for a stretch of your pectoral region. Hold 10 seconds and repeat 3 times. Raise your hands overhead and lean forward to stretch your upper shoulders and chest. Let the water splash on your neck as you stretch your ear sideways to your shoulder. Squat to pick up soap or shampoo rather than bending from the waist. If your shower has a seat, put your foot up and lean forward to stretch your hamstrings with your leg out in front of you.
Cleaning your house? Put on some good music, grab your duster and vacuum. Really put yourself into the task: stretch to reach dust bunnies up high, move with intention keeping your posture tall and not bending from waist but using your hips and knees to get under furniture.
The important thing to remember is to vary your activity and make your movements as complex and varied as possible. This avoids the rut of doing the same thing the same way which causes the body to adapt a rhythm where it expends less energy because it has become very efficient in an activity and it needs to burn less and less energy for tasks that it is accustomed to do. If you take a neighborhood or park walk, vary your path, takes hills on from different directions, try to increase your speed in segments than slow down again. Your body is designed to work in many different ways. You can keep it tuned up by moving daily in a variety of ways. There is a saying that exercise is a like a dollar in the piggy bank – you do not need to put the dollar in all at once – you can do it 4 quarters at 4 different times or 10 dimes at 10 interval s a day. At the end of the day, it still adds up to a dollar. Invest in your fitness and health by thinking of creative ways to exercise in disguise.
We wish you health and pain free movement for your life. If you have a physical problem with which you continue to struggle, call us – we are the experts at putting your life back into motion!!
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