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Monday, November 16, 2009

Wow, where did the time go?

I looked the calender yesterday and my immediate reaction was: Wow, where did the time go? December is looming closer than I would prefer and my to do list just seems to get longer.

Finding time to exercise is often a challenge facing many of us-we are often too busy balancing our home and work responsibilities. I think this hit home for me recently when I became sick and had the time to really think about how I was balancing family, university, work, studio and time for myself. Obviously, I was shocked to discover that maybe I wasn't balancing these responsibilities as well as I thought I was as it took a long time to recover from my illness. I needed to re-evaluate how I was finding time to decompress. For me, I decompress by exercising, often by taking my 4-legged golden boys for a good run and a decent yoga practice. When I teach classes, I am not exercising, it's not my class, but yours. I spend most of the time guiding and watching for alignment. So, to add another 60 minutes on to my schedule for my exercise time is often a challenge. But I do find the time as exercise in some format is critical to a healthy lifestyle. I just try to exercise more effieciently.

This leads me to this week's blog: finding time for yourself to exercise during the holiday season. Most of us approach the holiday season with trepidation regarding the parties, food and those fabulous holiday meals. On average, the holiday weight gain is between 3-5 lbs. In January, the boom to the fitness industry reaps the benefits of our holiday indulgences. On average, gym memberships increase by 32% in January, which is the single biggest month for memberships. By mid-February, many people have reduced their attendence at the gym by 40%!

So, how can you prevent the holiday weight gain and start the New Year on a healthy note?

Take time and schedule time to exercise. The recommended daily cardio activity should be 30-40 minutes of continuous activity. You deserve to make this time for yourself. Schedule a walk, run, class. Set aside 40 minutes for a truly effective workout that incorporates cardio and strength.

When planning your workout, look at ways of using your own body weight and interval training. (Remember burpies from high school gym-these incorporate cardio, upper body strength & core). If you are going for a walk, add a small set of dumbbells and periodically add some lunges during your session or incorporate some sprints of 30 seconds into your walk. I like to sprint using light poles as my guide. I sometimes will sprint between 2 or 3 and then light run/walk for the next 2 or 3. I just mix it up. I love push-ups-they work those muscles that are under-utilized during our functional activities such as as triceps, deltoids, pectorals. I will do sets a few times a day when I have a few seconds to spare.

If you only have 20 minutes, here is a simple interval training routine that I often use when time is limited (please check with your Doctor before beginning). A minute of rest is recommended between each exercise and always check that breathing is effective (you should always be able to talk) and form is correct.

1. Warm up- 1 minute light jogging in place
2. Squats with shoulder press-15-20 reps.
3. Jumping jacks-30 seconds
4. Walking lunges with bicep curl or stationary lunges with bicep curls-15-30 each leg
5. Squat thrusts (1 minute): Stand straight. Drop to a crouch position. Immediately thrust your legs out straight behind on your toes, in push up position, now jump to pull legs back to the chest, in crouching position, then stand up straight. Muscles worked: arms, legs, chest, and lower back.
6. Abdominal crunches on floor or exercise ball 15-20 reps
7. Hip bridges: Lie on your back. With your hands at a 90 degree angle to the floor, lift your body off the floor to form a straight line, a sort of a bridge, from the shoulders to the knee. The position should resemble a table, your hands and legs as the legs of the table and your upper body to your knees as the surface. Hold this position for two seconds. Squeeze your glutes (butt muscles) and then lower yourself. Muscle worked: Lower back, hamstrings and glutes
8. Reverse abdominal crunches: 15-30 reps
9. Push ups-15-20 reps
10. Cool down by walking until heart rate and breathing has recovered. Stretch upper & lower body, holding each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.

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