Exercise on The Cheap

Many of us want to stay fit but as the economy becomes tighter we are beginning to question how we can. Check out these ideas so you don’t let your fitness slide along with the stock markets.

Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive. Truly all you need to move is you. Exercise can be accomplished using things you find in your everyday life. Are you looking ideas to keep working out but need something a little less posh? Try these out.

Use your body weight – push-ups, squats, pull-ups and all their variations can add overload without any fancy equipment.

Look in your pantry. Canned food and gallon jugs can effectively add resistance similar to a hand weight. Empty milk (or other liquid) jugs can be refilled to your needed weight so you can add more as you get stronger.

Use broom handles and a couple of chairs to create a modified pull up bar. This will allow you to lift only what you can rather than your whole body as in a traditional pull-up. In addition couches, chairs, ottomans can become “benches” for better range of motion.

Look for stairs around your house – they don’t have to be “real” stairs. Stools, rocks, stumps, etc all count if you have to step up to get on them. *safety note: you don’t want to be stepping too high – no more than 18 inches is plenty or so your knee and hip are perpendicular to the ground.

Kids are good for something! If they are small use them as weight – backpacks, strollers, and simple play can help you build your muscles. If they are older let them lead you in a fun game of tag or obstacle courses they love being the leaders. Teens may be willing to take a healthy lifestyle challenge with you with the bonus of building a closer relationship.

Invest simply in fitness equipment – rubber tubing, hand/ankle/wrist weights, a step, a ball, etc are versatile and inexpensive pieces that give a bit gain for little cost. The trick on equipment is – IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW CHEAP IT WAS IF YOU DON’T USE IT!

There are many ways you can continue fitness on the cheap. The trick is to get creative, think outside the box, and make sure you are being safe. As always discuss your new fitness routine with your healthcare person and remember to have a great time!

If you decided to build a home gym, comment below and tell us what you decided to use? What was your essential must have piece of equipment (it’s ok if that’s a milk jug!)

Like this article – read more: Try planning home workouts or Cardio Workouts Indoors for more ideas on working out at home.

Exercising Sore Muscles, Using Active Rest

We’ve all had those days when we wake up and know we did something active the day or two before. Delayed onset soreness isn’t uncommon but can affect how you feel about exercise, your body, and your fitness accomplishments. Exercising sore muscles can help. If you injured yourself during an activity but don’t need immediate medical care active rest can help, too but first some basic first aid can help.

The best thing is to train ahead of time. If you have failed to practice or train ahead of time there are some things you can do to get over those aches and pains with relatively little couch (whine) time. According to physical therapist Jim Rauzi, of the Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy in Superior, WI, “go for ice. You can usually do right by ice. Many people reach for heat because it feels good, however, heat keeps the injury bleeding which can cause more damage. You are better off to reach for ice if you need something right away. “

Follow R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is important to understand how your injury is affected by movement. “Once you are able, you’ll want to follow immediate treatments with active rest,” says Rauzi.

Active rest means find movement you can do which does not affect the injured areas. If it feels ok, there is a school of thought and some research to support moving in the same pattern which created the soreness. In other words, if you are sore from walking, walk some. Use a slower pace and include stretching. Sorry, but it sounds like laying on the couch may not be the best alternative. You should get up and move, possibly do a little bit of stretching.

Whatever you decide to do it should not hurt more. It should help you feel better, and remember, this is not to treat or take the place of doctor’s advice, make sure you communicate with your health care professional.

Steps To Train For An Event

Are you one of those people who decides to do an event and spends the next few days on the couch whining about sore muscles and poor performance? We’d call you a weekend warrior! See last posting for more info on that, but if you want to feel great about your performance and know you did you best keep reading.

If you are preparing for an event think about what movements you must do to perform well in your activity. Maybe it is a 5k run, hit a home run, or par for the course. Maybe it’s a walk around your block, playing with the grandkids, or hiking with your children.
It is a great idea to train ahead of your event, outing, or race. You’ll be less likely to injure yourself and spend following days on the couch. Come to terms with where you are today in relation to where you were and move according to your current level.

Ø Practice movement patterns required by your event – break down your golf swing, run/walk, practice swimming strokes, etc

Ø Build up your endurance and speed – figure out how much time you have to train and incrementally increase your training to reflect how much time you have and how fast/long you want to complete the event at.

Ø Eat well – training isn’t just about exercise and movement. Eating right for an event gives your body the energy it needs to perform well. Hint: Eating right doesn’t just happen the day of or night before an event.

Ø Take breaks – your body needs time to rest while you are training. Make sure to take a day or two off (with active rest) each week.

Ø Be realistic in your goals – use your current fitness level and length of training time to determine realistically where you should finish. Choosing your high school track meet times may not be in your favor.

It is totally possible to compete at great levels as we age. Training and practice are a must – so once again I am telling you, “Get active, get in the gym, and get living”.

Learning To Balance

Balance is something many of us take for granted. Think about how you balance. Has anything ever taken away your balance? An injury or loss of hearing, sight, or a case of vertigo? Have you tried incorporating balance into your fitness training and noticed how much your core engages? Balance can be a great way to begin adding functional activity into your daily life.

Balance is learned. Many of us don’t remember learning because we were little when we learned to walk. If we can learn it, we can unlearn it, so we must keep doing it to keep our balance strong. Balance is done not only with the body, but the eyes and ears. If we lose a sense, we will have to adjust how we balance.
Start noticing when do you need to hold onto the railings, walls, things around you? Begin trying to hold on less. If you already have great balance begin incorporating unstable surfaces into your workouts, such as the BOSU, balance discs, and foam rollers.

Balance can be incorporated into many different movements, but my favorite way to teach balance is to have people brush their teeth while standing on one leg. Your body will adapt very quickly, as this is more a nervous system adaptation. Once you’ve got it on one leg move to your other. You may find you balance easier on one leg than the other. Each of us has a dominant side so it is normal to feel as though you are better at balancing or using one side or the other. By practicing balance on both sides of the body you are creating freedom to move.

More freedom in movement will translate into moving more, and you’ll be feeling great about your body’s ability to move. Once again, your body – absolutely amazing!

How to Stretch Effectively

Photo Credit: www.Sunlighten.com   

Many people fail to stretch because they just don’t know how. The basics of flexibility are easy and once you get them down begin adding them into all your workouts for maximum benefits. Stretching may seem mild in comparison to your normal workout but don’t forget to stretch your muscles will thank you.

When you begin flexibility training start slow. Begin by holding stretches for 15-30 seconds at the point you feel tension in the muscle. Do not bounce as you hold these stretches, you’ll run the risk of hurting muscle tissue. We have a built in response system for muscle tension, and bouncing can damage muscle tissue by moving it beyond the threshold too quickly. Stretch all muscles you worked.

Try foam rollers to help you relieve soreness and deepen your stretches.

Many times stretching can help soreness. There are many theories surrounding muscle soreness, but stretching seems to relieve it. Begin by moving around or taking a hot shower or bath, allowing blood to reach muscle tissue, stretch muscles that are sore using the above guidelines, and feel better.

Remember: 

Warm Up Your Muscles
Start Slow
Move to the Point of Tension
Hold for 15-30 Seconds
Repeat Stretches 2-3 Times Per Muscle Group
AND Don’t Ignore Your Flexibility Training!

What is Flexibility Training?

Many times this fitness component gets left behind. Here’s why you should take this part of your exercise routine seriously.

Flexibility refers to our joints’ ability to move through their complete range of motion. This is very important to our fitness level because it allows us to perform the movements we want to do. If you are an athlete you’ll want to have the ability to move through full range so you are at the top of your game. If you are moving for health you’ll want to train for flexibility because supple joints allow you to move well.

Inadequate range of motion is the cause of many injuries. Lower back pain is often associated with tight abdominals, hip flexors, or hamstrings, and the more you hurt the less you move. The less you move the more tight your muscles become and the less you move. See where this leads?

As a component of fitness, flexibility training should be done after a workout, when the muscles are warm. Stretching after a workout allows your muscles to learn. They remember how far they stretch, which is how our flexibility grows. Performing flexibility training when the muscles are warm allows them to capitalize on the blood they have, creating more stretch safely.

Flexibility does have limits. We are genetically programmed to be more or less flexible, but not an excuse for not training. You will build upon what you have. Remember fitness is about where you are, not where you think you should be or where your neighbor is. It is all about you.

Feel like you need a tool to help you reach your flexibility goals? Try foam rollers.

Charting Your Fitness Without Using Body Weight

Many people come to me and say, “ I want to weigh…”, I always ask why. This usually frustrates the client and their response is something like, because that’s what I should weigh or what I did weigh. What I would like all of you to know is…stop using weight as the ultimate measure of your success. Get off the scale!
How then, you say, am I supposed to know how I am doing? The best way is to ask yourself:

Do your clothes fit better
Have I lost inches
Do I feel better
Is my stress level down
Am I sleeping better
Do I have more energy
All of these will be great indicators of your commitment and your success. However, if you’d like more feedback on your fitness and your progress, its more effective to measure body fat.

See the blog posts on What is Body Fat and When to Weigh In for more information on this fitness component.

When to Weigh In

Many people like to use body weight as a motivating factor to stay focused on their fitness goals. Beware of getting caught in the number trap.

Weight is important, but please don’t let it be your success or failure mark. Many things change throughout the month, and as your body cycles (both men and women) your body weight will change. This is true during the day as well, you will weigh different in the morning than the evening. Your body weight may fluctuate around 5lbs in a day – so how can that be a great indicator? Plain and simple it isn’t.
If you must weigh yourself, do so on the same day of the month and at the same time each weigh-in. It is easiest to do this when you wake up, you’ll be able to wear the same thing and generally have eaten the same thing prior to weighing – nothing for approximately 8 hours. You can weigh yourself in between your monthly weigh-in but I caution you to not be too tied to that number instead use it to keep you focused on working out.

Finally, remember a weight measurement in fitness is a time measurement. To get the most accurate idea of how you are doing you must track this measurement over a period of time.

What is Body Fat?

big guy weighing himself in the morning and shocked by what he sees

What is a better indicator of health and fitness success – how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage is? Many people don’t like thinking about their fat but its an important factor to be considered when working on your fitness.

Body fat is a measurement used to indicate health. There are a number of ways to measure body fat, all differentiate between your body fat vs your lean mass. Lean mass is everything but the fat, your blood, tissues, fluids, bones, muscles, everything else. When you jump on the scale you are measuring everything, which is not a great indicator of health. Think about a bodybuilder, they may have lots of lean mass and not much fat mass, but they will weigh more, likewise, a person who is thin with low body weight may have higher fat mass and may not be as healthy. Fitness professionals use it to determine goals for clients and how to approach training.
When looking for a professional to read your body fat, keep some limitations in mind. There are many types of body fat tests, and some tests are more accurate. Tester experience is a must. Tests can be less accurate due to your hydration levels, when you worked out last, who is performing the test, and the amount of sites taken (depends on test). The best way to get an accurate picture of your body fat is to begin with one tester, one method, and stick to it. Measure at the same time of the month and same time each time you test.

Following these guidelines will allow you to track your progress in a more controlled environment. Remember, bottom line is, if you are moving, you are on your way to health!

Self-Responsibility – Its Your Health and Up To You!

Each year millions of Americans decide to lose weight. They jump on the treadmill January 1st and find out its hard. Really hard to change their lifestyle. So what do they do? They quit. They throw up their hands, shake their heads, turn around, and give up. This cycle creates multiple issue for the individuals; not to mention loss of confidence, happiness, and a lower sense of accomplishment. Who is the primary person at the center of this process? Who is the one person who controls the outcome? Who is the person with the power? YOU.

Each year I see many individuals who come in excited, ready for change only to leave six weeks later exhausted, defeated, and disgusted. Hmmm… seems to me we may have misunderstood the work effort involved. Who told you lifestyle change is easy? If the process is going to work you must take responsibility for yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. You can become healthy, you can take the time to take care of yourself. You can do this. You just have to start somewhere. Why not start by walking right now. One foot in front of the other, moving toward your goal of better health.