Here are 10 Ways to Add More Activity To Your Day:
1) Park and Walk
2) Take the Stairs
3) Play with your children or other people’s children
4) Walk the dog
5) Take a stretch break every 90 minutes – get up from your desk and do a couple of simple stretches
6) Pace with you are on the phone
7) Carry your own groceries out
8) Make your lunch or break an active one – replace a sedentary meal with an exercise routine and smaller lunch – if you sit down and eat healthy following a workout you might enjoy it more than a long, sedentary, routine eating habit
9) Each time you go to sit down do a squat first – Act like you are going to sit down but when your butt hits the chair stand back up. By the end of the day you’ll have done a whole set!
10) Add some intensity to your house cleaning routines. When picking up around the house add lunges, squats, and rows to your chores. If you are feeling really good add some jumps or run stairs.
Get creative about your movement and watch your energy rise, your sleep get better, and your motivation to move grow!*
Many of us begin our fitness path with an ideal. We have a vision of what we want to look like, achieve, and accomplish. Sometimes these goals which were so inspiring to begin with begin to weigh us down. Soon they become the albatross that doesn’t let us go and we no longer enjoy.
I was hiking last weekend with my family in the mountains of Colorado. We were taking a somewhat difficult climb for our three small children but figured they could make it to the high lake with plenty of breaks. At first all went as planned, but soon the “how much longer” and “I’m too tired to move” became a constant creating stress for all within hearing distance. Was it my 4-year-olds fault he was bored of this multi-hour walk (we have completed others just fie) or my 6-year-olds fault she preferred the flowers in front of her to the lake we couldn’t see yet? No!
Looking back the only problem was that we didn’t honor the beauty right in front of us because we were too focused on the goal. Along the trail there was much to be discovered and had we been less focused on the end result and more focused on the process we could’ve have seen it.
The lesson in it all was this: having a destination (goal) is good however you should also find the beauty along the road (the process of reaching your goal). As it was we never made it to the lake but were able to learn this lesson halfway in. On the return trip we spend much more time checking out flowers, waterfalls, rocks, mud-puddles, and views!
This is the time of year to get out and to the park. This is my favorite time of day. I load up the kids, pack a book on tape if I think there is the slightest chance they may fall asleep during the walk, and make our way down to the local playground. My eight – six – and four year olds are excited and I’ll be crossing workout off my to-do list. Yep, I will be moving too. This isn’t time for me to sit on a bench and read, talk, or yawn wondering how many more times the slide can produce such a gleeful sound. Why should I wonder…why not find out?
In my line of work I repeatedly hear, “I’m just too busy to spend time working out.” We’ve all heard obesity is on the rise. Childhood obesity is steadily climbing, and is a risk factor in many diseases. According to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Type II diabetes is on the rise in children. “Known as “adult onset” diabetes because it usually affects people over 50, the disease is afflicting children as young as 4”, for many Type II diabetes is linked closely to obesity and inactivity. Fortunately, obesity in most cases is preventable, but yields enormous health risks if left unattended, and people aren’t listening. They continue to blame someone else for the extra weight they are packing around; just look at the newest trend in lawsuits and petitions to claim obesity as a disease along the lines of AIDS. Instead we can change our lives. We have the power to create a better quality of life just by moving our bodies.
So, next time you make a trip to the park, play with your kids, run, jump, pull-up! Research shows a correlation between parent-child activity behaviors. Study after study show links between parent activity levels and their children’s activity levels. Being active is not only going to benefit you, it will directly influence your child’s attitudes about activity and their lifestyle choices for the rest of their life. If that isn’t reason to move, I don’t know what is.
Check out my Youtube Channel for ideas on home exercises. Then adapt them to your park setting.
Next time you visit the park,(children optional); try these moves:
Pay attention to the muscles you are working. Exhale as you complete the exertion or work phase of the movement, and keep proper alignment. Maintain core (abdominal and back) strength to protect your spine as you work, and lastly have a great time – your kids won’t be the only ones begging to head for the park once you’ve become a player, too.
Entire Lower Body~
Determine the approximate distance you’ll be walking to get to the playground. Divide that number into six sections. Begin by walking one section. Follow that with walking lunges for one section, repeat until you’ve reached the park. If your sections are large, do 10 walking lunges at a time, rest by walking, do 10 more, repeat until you’ve completed the section.
*Safety Notes: If you are a beginner, wait until you’ve reached the playground and perform lunges while holding a bar for stability until you are confident in your form. More advanced practitioners begin by practicing while standing still. To avoid overstressing the knee, keep your knee over your ankle. This is more difficult while moving forward. Tip: Pick up your toes while practicing to get the correct position. You’ll get the bonus of balance practice, too. Once you are able to do a correct lunge standing still, practice moving slowly in a forward direction keeping the knee over the ankle.
Center your weight over both legs and keep your shoulders over your hips. Go down only as low as you can while maintaining good form. Keep your head and chest up, and keep your back knee off the ground.
Run with your children. This can take the shape of a game or whatever they are doing, let them lead you. Try this variation while you run, kick you heels toward your buttocks while keeping your knees close together. This will help you focus on the hamstrings plus run slower letting the kids win one!
Another variation on the run, one your kids will love, running backwards. Aim to keep the shoulders over your hips, as you move backwards bring the leg out, extending from the knee. Try to move slower and focus on the quads as the leg extends. To add more intensity lower your body into a moving squat as you slowly move backwards.
*Safety note: Never completely lock out a joint during a regular workout. 95% extension of a joint will protect your joints and allow you to move through full range of motion. Remember to keep the knee over the ankle. Pick your toes up to help you find the correct position, and make sure you are able to maintain it while moving before beginning advanced movement.
Abductors & Adductors~
The kids will love this one. You may remember karaoke from grade school gym class, but never knew you were working on so many things as you performed this drill, did you?
Begin moving sideways by bringing the feet together. Alternate crossing one in front of the other. Again, center your weight and focus on the muscles you are working, inner and outer thighs. Repeat with the other side leading.
Bonus: When you cross the midline of your body you are causing both sides of your brain to cooperate and are building coordination.
My personal favorite muscle to say, gastrocnemius, can be effectively worked as you move up the stairs to the slide. On each step pause to do a calf raise. You can lift with both feet or more advanced, one foot at a time. Step on the edge of the stair; push up onto your toe. Then complete the move by bringing your heel back in line with your toes.
The good ole fashioned push-up is here. Find an elevated surface: Stairs, ledge, bar, etc. Standing, place the wrists in-line with the shoulders and extend the elbow. Bend the elbow and lower the chest towards the hands. Breathe out as you extend the arms back to the starting position. Get the kids to do them with you. Work up to ten.
Safety Note: Stabilize the core to protect the back. You will be ready to move into a more advanced exercise when you can complete 10 in good form. The more horizontal you are, the more advanced the move. Remember small is still good – better than big motion, bad form. The spine should stay long and natural.
Back & Biceps~
Everyone’s favorite – the pull-up. The playground is a great place to pull-up, there are lots of bars at different heights…ok no cheating with all your weight on your feet! Find a bar at an accommodating height. You don’t have to be straight up and down. Begin with a lower bar where your body is at an angle underneath. Grab the bar and pull your upper-body to your hands. The more advanced you are the higher the bar. Once you are completely up right use your feet only for balance or cross you ankles and bend your knees to pick your feet off the ground. See who can do more, you or the kids.
Shoulders, Triceps, & Biceps~
Get the little ones involved – let them be the weight! Depending on the size of your child they may be just what the trainer ordered. With your feet shoulder width apart and your knees soft, stabilize your core. Position your hands firmly under their arms and slowly lift your child off the ground. Keep your elbows and child close to your body as you bring your hands towards your shoulders, once you’ve given your child a kiss, extend your arms up and lift them over your head. Again, keep them close to your body. Their feet should dangle in front of your face.
Safety Note: Be careful with the child! A slow movement is required to keep the body in alignment and not use momentum to get the weight over your head. Do not strain your back as you reach up – it is easy to arch back to support the weight – remember good form first.
If you child is too big or doesn’t want to cooperate pack along some hand weights or find two rocks – pebbles don’t count, but make sure the weight (child or not) is accommodating to you. You should be able to perform 10 lifts with good form – if you can do more add more weight.
Back to the stairs, find a low stair and sit on the edge. Position your feet out in front of you – the further you move them away the harder the movement will be. Place you hands directly under your shoulders next to your hips. Slide your buttocks forward and lower straight down until the elbows and shoulders are in a line. Finish by pressing up into the starting position. Aim for 10.
The swing set is calling your name. Begin by swinging. As you move higher into the air use your abdominals to pump your legs. Add variations: Curl into a ball at the top of the movement – bring the shoulders and knees together. Bring the knees to one side and alternate for an oblique crunch. To build back strength, add a slight back extension as you move yourself higher into the air.
Safety Note: Pay close attention to your body and alignment during these activities. It sounds easy, but adding the mental element will enhance your muscle activity making it an exercise rather than just movement. Exhale as you crunch in.
Most importantly remember to have fun! Move with your kids and they will learn to love moving on their own.
If you checked out Monday’s blog I hope you did some thinking over the last few days about where you might want to create better balance in your life. And if you feel pretty balanced right now you may want to think about strategies to keep it that way. Life has a tendency to cycle and the more tools you have in your toolshed to better able you’ll be to handle any curve balls thrown at you.
Here is an exercise I like to do in workshops to help create a visual of where life may be out of whack. I usually do it as part of a long workshop (more than 2 hours) so take some time with it and see what comes up for you.
Large piece of paper – make it work for you
Crayons, markers, or colored pencils – at least 3-5+ different colors
Some quiet time to think
Fold your paper into four quadrants – you can also use the back if your paper is small.
Across the top list your major areas in your life – give each its own color, for example:
etc – put as many labels in as needed to get a complete picture of your life obligations.
In the top left square – using a different color for each activity (work, home, me time, social, spiritual, etc) place your average daily schedule – from the time you wake up till the time you go to bed. Mine might look like this:
6am – wake up (me time – red)
6:30 – yoga (spiritual – green)
7 – breakfast (home – purple)
7:30 – shower (me-red)
8:00 – leave house (work – orange)
and on throughout my day – each activity has a connection to a larger area of my life and is colored coded accordingly.
In the bottom left quadrant draw a circle – using the visual of a clock (but don’t use the actual time numbers as your segments) begin to fill in the number of hours you spend in each major area of your life.
This may sound a bit confusing – but the idea is to take an honest look at how much one area dominates your life.
I like to start with one area
Count the hours I spend “doing” in that area
And color all my hours in one block – so I end up with a neatly shaded pie
Each color representing a different life area, and each area/color a different slice. It soon becomes clear which slices/areas dominate my life and which are lacking. In the above example I would have:
1 hour – me time
1/2 hour – household
1/2 hour – Exercise
1/2 hour – work
Once you have completed this exercise it is easy to repeat every so often to determine an objective look at how you use your time and what areas of life are controlling the majority of you. This objective look creates space for you to determine if the activities you spend the majority of your time on are the ones you want to be spending the majority of your time on and better able to make changes accordingly.
Good chest exercises must include a variety of movements for the pectoralis major. This is the large fan like muscle connected to your sternum (breast bone), ribs, clavicle (collarbone) and humerus(arm).
The basic job of the pecs are to move your arm across your body (horizontal adduction) and flex the shoulder joint (bring your hand from your side to above your head.) Good chest exercises will mimic these movement patterns helping to make you stronger in them.
You don’t need fancy equipment to create good chest exercises but you do have to overload the muscle somehow. Push-ups are one of the best chest exercises and don’t require anything but you! Use modifications as needed – remember it is better to have smaller movements with good form than big moves with bad form. See how to do a proper push-up at eHow.com.
When lifting weights the more ways you can overload the muscle in movement patterns the more you’ll be able to target specific areas of the muscle. This requires that you change the movement pattern slightly. For instance performing incline, flat, and decline bench presses will help target the same muscle but with slightly different emphasis. This creates a better defined and stronger muscle through entire range of motion. Its also a good idea to add a small squeeze at the end of the movement (end range movement emphasis) allowing you to target the inner side of the pectoralis which can be difficult to train.
When working out in the gym you will have a variety of equipment at your fingertips. It is a good idea to focus on multiple chest exercises for a solid program.
Other Good Chest Exercises Include: Push-Ups, Presses – with a Bar or Dumbbells – Incline Press, Flat Bench Press, Decline Press, Dumbbell Flies, Cable Flies – standing or using a bench depending on your cable machine), Chest Press machines, Chest Fly machine, Pec Dec machine.
SAFETY NOTE: be careful of your range of motion in all the above – especially your shoulder range of motion to keep you from injury.
Getting bored of the same ole’ leg routine? Or maybe you are ready to branch away from the machines. All of us could use new ideas when it comes to creating our workouts. Here are some good leg exercises and options to keep you interested in your lower body workout.Good leg exercises depend on being able to overload your lower body effectively. Here are some exercises to get started with.
Things to remember:
Good form and small movement is better than big movement with bad form
Keep your knees over your ankles during squats and lunges and avoid shooting your knee out over the front of your toes
Quadriceps: Check out quad ideas on my youtube channel: Quad Exercises
Supine (lie on your back) Leg Extensions – Extend your knee as you squeeze the top of your thigh (quadriceps). Try this with the leg on the floor, at 45 degrees at the hip, and at 90 degrees, and anywhere in between.
Seated or standing Leg/Knee Extensions – same as above but sitting down or standing up.
Hamstrings:Check out hamstring ideas on my youtube channel: Hamstring Exercises
Leg Curls – lying (prone – face down), seated – move to the edge of your chair so the working leg can move on the side of the chair, or standing
Ball Leg Curls – lying supine place one or both feet on an exercise ball. Lift glutes & curl feet toward glutes as you press into the ball. Combing a glute lift increases intensity and adds the work for the butt as well.
Adductors or Inner Thigh:
Inner Thigh Squeeze – can be done side lying, standing, or seated. Overload with weight at the ankle or above the knee. Play with the hip angle. You only have to bring leg just past the mid-line. Focus on keeping good total body alignment throughout.
Ball Inner Thigh Squeeze – Laying supine, place stability ball between the legs at ankles, squeeze, hold for a few seconds, release and repeat. Keep tension on the ball or it’ll fall on you.
Abductors or Outer Thigh:
Outer Thigh Lift – side lying, standing, or seated. See Inner thigh squeeze above for overload. Lift from neutral (leg placement when standing with feet hip distance apart or closer) out to the side 35 degrees.
Glutes / Butt Exercises:
Hip Lift – lie supine, feet hip distance apart flat on the floor. Squeeze butt up as you lift your hips off the floor. Overload with weight over your pelvis.
Leg/Hip Extensions – prone or standing. Keeping the back neutral lift the leg from the hip. Squeeze your glutes.
Calfs or back of lower leg:
Calf raises – seated or standing – rise up on your toes, return to flat footed. Overload with weight on your knees (seated) or shoulders (standing).
Shins or front of lower leg:
Toe Taps – standing or seated tap your toes. You can also tie a rubber tube around an anchored pole, place the tubbing around your toes and point and flex your foot.
Spring is here and the links are calling. How many of you are ready to begin your golf season this year? How many of you have been training for golf this year? “What?!”, you say, “golf is enough exercise on its own, I don’t need to train.” I beg to differ. I hear many golfers claim they get great exercise on the course. They walk, a lot, they swing, and they move for the better part of the day, however moving is not always enough, one has to make sure the intensity is enough. I will also suggest that you train. Why? Golfing is a taxing activity. You ask your body to move with power, flexibility, strength, and stamina. If your game is important to you, ok, if you just do not want to get injured and spend the season with a pulled muscle, an ache, a pain, etc you should train prior to and during golf season. You think Tiger did it all with skill?
When training for golf begin by looking at where you are weak. How is your flexibility? Are you strong in certain movements and not in others? One of the great things about golf is you utilize many different muscle groups, in a variety of positions, and over a long period of time, so you’ll want these groups to be ready. How is your cardiovascular health? Are you able to walk the course for the entire game and still play decent? Many do ok through the first nine, only to lose steam on the back; affecting the ability to hit the ball well.
Strength training, endurance training, and flexibility are all important parts of golf fitness training. According to, golf-trainer.com, “Your golf workouts should be 50/50 in regards to strength and flexibility. If you put too much emphasis on flexibility, you’ll have loose, but very weak muscles that are susceptible to injury. If you put a higher priority on strength, you will most likely lose some range of motion, which will rob you of power and distance.” It is important to balance out flexibility training with strength training to ensure you have the strength to complete a solid movement (swing) and the range of motion to follow through, netting you a longer drive. Fitnessforgolf.com had this to say, “The most important aspects of the golf swing and the game, in general, all revolve around the building of a strong and solid foundation for the body, the mind and the basics of an athletic swing.” Your power comes from your core, which is why functional training is a must for golfers. Sitting on a machine lifting repetitive weight is great, however golf is dynamic, and one must train for it dynamically. Exercise is much more effective if we approach it based on the end result. Golf training should be done utilizing the muscles, movements, and on your feet similar to the game itself. Fitnessforgolf.com goes onto say, The seven S’s Stamina, Stability, Strength, Supple, Spirit, Sequence, and Skill should dominate your direction when deciding a golf fitness program.
Core training just means we are going to train the torso or core of the body. All large movement begins here, including walking, and this is the power house for rotation. What gets the ball down the course? The strength and speed of your rotation. Again, golf-trainer.com states the following: A core golf workout will produce more power in your golf swing when it focuses on rotational movements with resistance. The primary movement in the golf swing is rotating your upper body back, then rotating it through to the finish. That is why it is critical you implement exercises that involve rotational strength and flexibility. When putting together your exercises for golfers program, take a look at the body position required to make a mechanically sound swing. Once you realize this dynamic and very unique position, you can do golf exercises specific to this position.
Things to remember.
Do the majority of your golf exercises on your feet.
Do them in your golf posture if at all possible.
Keep your knees flexed, just like your golf swing.
Do as many rotational exercises as possible.
Make sure to do the follow through side of the swing.
Golfing exercises should be done with high repetitions. It is important to also train for muscular endurance. Endurance is important on the golf course. You are asking that your body perform well for a long period of time.
To end, Make sure to stay hydrated and fed if you want to perform at peak performance, and hydrating with too many 12oz-ers won’t, no matter what your friends say, improve your game. So if you really want to hit the course this year and play the best golf ever, you need to train for your season. Who knows, maybe your foot wedge won’t be out this season at all – no guarantees, though!
Smell the summer air, what goes great with summer? Softball! No matter what your summer sport, it is better to train prior to your game to maximize your strength, endurance, and skills.
Softball, like golf draws much of its power from rotational force. As you swing the bat your core strength determines how powerful you hit the ball. Once the ball is in flight, your body must use explosive speed to get you on base, ok, for some we wouldn’t put explosive and speed in the same sentence, but that is the idea.
Any softball workout program is enhanced by basic strength training.When we begin training we need to develop conditioning strength before beginning more specific activity. Once you’ve cleared your plans with your health care provider, start with basic strength training. Choose one to two exercises per muscle group and lift weight heavy enough to fatigue your muscles in eight to ten repetitions. Once you’ve built a base of strength you can begin adding activities specific to softball.
Core is important in this sport. All your power comes from your middle. You want to train these muscle groups in tri-planar movement, with overload. Translation: Move in many different directions and use something to add weight to your movement. It is important to have significant strength through the core before you add external weight, which is why you want base strength. Try using something to create an unstable surface to work from. For example: Using your bat begin with both feet flat on the floor, legs a little further than hip distance apart, knees bent. Begin gently swinging your bat side to side to warm up rotational muscles Next, try the same movement on a BOSU ball (a piece of equipment used for training on an unstable surface.), Finally, take the same movement and add weight to the bat. Notice the difference between the different movements. What happens to the abdominal muscles when asked to work on an unstable surface? Remember, you must be able to maintain good form. Once you can no longer maintain good form you know you’ve reach your limit and you must begin to build strength and endurance in those muscle groups before going further into the movement pattern.
To train the core in multi-planar movement get creative. What types of movement mimics the skills you will need during your game? Begin with these movements and then build on them. Try doing the movements on one foot or while shifting your weight from side to side. Keep the abdominals tight to protect your back and notice how these muscle groups work together. Think of ways to engage these muscle groups as a unit to effectively build your power.
Most of us not only need to hit the ball but we need to be able to get on base. Running the bases takes explosive speed. We go from standing still to moving quickly and then we stop as quickly as we started. This type of movement requires some training to keep injury at bay. Once, again a baseline of strength is necessary before tackling too much, and talk with your health care professional before beginning any exercise program. Set up a sprint course during your workout. Begin by walking for one to two minutes, warm-up and move with purpose; get your heart rate going, then all out run for thirty to forty-five seconds, recover while walking and then repeat. Parking lots are good for sprint courses; find a parking lot with empty slots and use the lines as your markers. You can develop different workouts to keep you interested. It is also important to cross train. Using other types of cardiovascular workouts (i.e. Different cardio machines, movements, or workout formats) use the sprint model to challenge your explosive speed. Cross training will keep you from over-training and you’ll be less likely to get injured or develop your speed without balance to your body.
Flexibility is incredibly important in this sport. If you work to develop strength without training flexibility you’ll end up with increased strength, but limited movement patterns due to limited range of motion. This sets you up for injury and you will not maximize your new strength or skills.
When training for softball this summer, think about the movements you do during your game, then mimic those during your workouts while adding challenge, by increasing your speed or weight while performing the movement. After developing your base strength through general strength training, pay extra attention to your core and get creative with movements in many directions, on unstable surfaces,followed with stretching after every workout. Swing batter, batter, Swing!
Ok, now that we’ve covered basics of walking over the last few blog posts – lets look at adding adventure to our jaunt because lets face it, walking is, well, sometimes it can be boring. You can also add this workout to running, which can be great fun! First,
Take very large steps. Try keeping your speed as you begin taking extra long strides. Do this for ten steps and begin walking as fast asyou can for thirty steps. Repeat 3 times.
· During the third round change the extra long strides into lunges. Keep the knee over the ankle as you move forward, as it will want to shoot out over your toe, which can be too much stress on the joint. Center your weight as you come into the lunge and lower the body over the hips. Do ten lunges on each leg, and begin walking as fast as possible again. Repeat this sequencence.
· Next, add knee raises. As you move forward raise the knee to waist height with each step, do ten then walk as fast as possible for thirty steps. Follow this sequence with an extended kick as you raise the knee. Raise the knee to waist height and then extend the leg from the knee out front. Feel the quadriceps as you extend placing the foot down as far in front as you can. Repeat for ten steps and recover for thirty.
· The next set works the hamstrings. As you walk bring your heels up to the glutes. Knees stay close together as stride decreases working the back of the thigh to raise the feet. Repeat for ten steps recover for thirty.
· Finally, as you walk forward raise the leg out to the side and place the foot down across the mid-line of your body, working the outer and inner thigh respectively. Imagine your body has been cut in half, right vs left, and you need to place your step in the opposite half. So each step will involve bringing the leg out to the side (outer thigh work) and then stepping across the mid-line (inner thigh work).
· Repeat the entire sequence throughout your walk and make sure you are moving fast enough to keep the heart rate up if this counts as your cardio workout.
Sure you’ll look funky, but it will put some spark in your daily walk and add spice to your routine, plus will help add emphasis to the lower body as you move.