Hello fellow walkers! Walking is about the ONLY exercise I have engaged in since California’s Stay-At-Home order on Friday, March 20. Believe me, I am happy and grateful to walk outside in my neighborhood, and my dogs never complain, but why does it feel like it’s been longer than 9 days?
Thankfully, we can ride our bikes on the nearby bike trail, which I did last Sunday. Lots of people were enjoying the glorious sunny day, walking, bicycling or running. It is easy to maintain 6 feet of social distancing here.
As part of our three-week road trip in December and early January, we spent the last leg of the trip in Las Vegas. My brother lives there now so we spent time with him and his partner. They had not yet visited the Valley of Fire State Park, and we were happy to re-visit and show them the sights.
Our first stop was to the Visitor’s Center at the west entrance to the park (only $10 per car) to grab a brochure and map of the area. It can take up to two days to see everything. Just driving through all the red rocks is quite stunning.
The first area to visit, because it gets busy, is the White Domes area that is also home to the slot canyon.
I played around with some photo-editing of the image of me walking into the entrance of the slot canyon, camera at-the-ready.
I feel like this image really defines me! Thanks, Ingrid, for the inspiration!
Once inside, the light is incredible.
After much “oohing and aahing” from my brother and his partner, we stopped for a picnic lunch then drove on to other areas of the park. The park covers over 40,000 acres, so driving is a must, but you can park and hike to suggested points-of-interest. In the shot below, my brother is blazing a trail with me on his heels to the area where the petroglyphs can be seen up close.
Yes, the sand is also this red!
One more point of interest after spending nearly 8 hours in the Valley of Fire, was to stop and gawk at the Elephant Rock, at the east entrance of the park.
If you didn’t get your 10,000 steps with me on this outing to the Valley of Fire, you can click here to take a cold walk with me on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
If you can get outdoors to walk, I encourage you to do so! Intermittent rainy weather kept me indoors this week and I found a good yoga practice on Youtube. I also own some fitness bands and do a series of calisthenics with those. Any kind of exercise is good for our bodies and spirits now!
As I continue to write my book No Excuses Fitness, I have included my experience with exercise and recovery from injury and surgery in this post.
Two years ago, while out walking my dogs, I fell and fractured my right hand. I was lucky only to have to wear a wrist brace so I could still use my fingers, but the pain and awkwardness of the brace hindered most of my activities and personal care.
Consistently engaging in leisure-time physical activity makes up part of my identity. The idea of not being able to walk, swim, go to the gym or ride my bike sets up high levels of anxiety within me. Not only do I want to maintain my fitness level, but I also want to keep weight off.
I admit I am a little addicted to exercise and its effects on weight loss, among other benefits. So of course, I went to the gym three days after I broke my hand. I figured I could still walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical since my legs were fine. I did not want to lose the progress I had made in my fitness journey.
After only 15 minutes on the elliptical, and not engaging my right hand, I was pouring sweat and feeling strange. I later shared this news with my daughter, an avid, 30-something Cross-Fitter, who admonished me for not resting. Our bodies use a LOT of energy to heal even a minor fracture. Feeling much better after a week, I went back to the gym and engaged in my usual workouts but in shorter durations. I was also able to carefully walk the dogs again, using my left hand to hold the leashes.
Two years later, my mindset toward physical activity hasn’t changed much. When I elected to have bunion surgery on my left foot in early June, I thought I went in with my eyes wide open. Having never experienced firsthand the mobility issues of using crutches or a knee scooter, I assumed I could gracefully and patiently handle the whole process of recovering from surgery.
It has been quite a journey. “Gracefully and patiently” are distant ideals.
As each day went by, I gradually got more energy. Most physical activities had to be done in the morning, as my foot would typically swell in mid-afternoon. This is the time when I would elevate my feet on my La-Z-Boy!
Here is a look at a week in my life post-surgery. Please note that light activity was approved by my doctor during my third week when the real cast was placed.
Walking the Dogs
With assistance, I found I could get my knee scooter outside, while someone wrangled the dogs. My small dog, Aero, walks well and I could attach his leash to the scooter handlebars, while someone walked alongside with Brodie. I went from walking 15 minutes to over 45 minutes, 2-3 days a week!
I keep my phone with me in case of photo ops!
I bought a used stationary bike I keep on the backyard deck, and 2-3 times a week I cycle for 15-20 minutes. The casted foot occasionally slips a little while pedaling, but most of the work is done with my right foot.
Calisthenics, Strength Training, and Stretching
I keep a resistance band in my scooter basket. When the mood strikes, I do some simple resistance exercises for about 10 minutes. I also lie on the floor and gently work my abs and legs. Due to the cast and inactivity, my left thigh is now an inch smaller around than my right thigh! With my ankle immobilized within the cast, I know I have some work to do once it’s off.
Short Errands to the Store
Once the fourth week arrived, I was able to drive to nearby stores to run errands. Hubby showed me how to place the scooter in the back of my SUV, which takes some maneuvering. It’s lightweight, so it is easy to lift in and out of the car. Just doing this much and rolling around the grocery store takes energy and time. I discovered last week I can pull a cart with one hand while riding the scooter, but I save the big trips for hubby.
To get into my backyard, I need to use the crutches. Our deck has three steps into the backyard, so the scooter does not work. My plumerias and sunflowers need water daily while the rest of the plants and flowers need water every other day in our Northern California 90+ degree heat. Some gardening projects will have to wait until I am back on both feet.
My two proudest achievements this summer! My first pink plumeria bloomed yesterday, a huge surprise since it can take up to three years for cuttings to bloom.
Last year I planted sunflowers to photograph and enjoy. Once I saw this type, a Tall Sungold, aka Teddy Bear, I just had to have one. A blogger friend sent me some of his seeds from his harvest!
I take photos of the sunflowers and plumeria almost every day. Have you ever tried to hold a cell phone with two fingers while using crutches? I knew I should have bought one of those Velcro pouches made for crutches while I was at the medical supply store in San Diego!
Getting Back to Normal
Looking forward to when the cast comes off in a few days, I may end up wearing a walking boot for a while longer, which is OK since I can remove it. From this point, I plan to swim and do some aqua aerobics and water walking at the gym swimming pool, along with using the elliptical again. I’m also looking forward to my Friday or Saturday morning yoga classes too!
The key is to resume physical activity gradually. Complete recovery from bunion surgery can take up to one year, due to mild residual pain and swelling!
I’m excited about getting back to the delta for our summer weekends where I can kayak and ease into stand-up paddling’ but I think I will put off windsurfing until next season!
I know that my recovery will be slow, but I have an entire month before I’m back in the classroom.
Was it worth it? I’ll let you know in a few weeks! Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the scooter ride with me today.
There is no excuse more prevalent than dealing with extreme weather conditions to thwart your plans for physical activity.
“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
Henry David Thoreau
“But it’s too HOT to exercise!”
In the northern hemisphere, today marks the summer solstice, the first day of summer. Here in Northern California, the heat was a predictable 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius).
For my southern hemisphere friends who are enjoying enduring COLD temps now, the same principles of using temperature as an excuse not to exercise still apply. See links near the end of this post.
Today I am sharing excerpts from my upcoming work-in-progress book No Excuses Fitness as they relate to exercising in hot or cold weather, from my chapter on external barriers.
How often do we make the time to get some well-needed exercise or physical activity only to be thwarted by some external barrier?
External obstacles or barriers generally include geographical, environmental and structural. Those geographical barriers include weather and climate, changing seasons and outdoor temperatures.
For example, how can weather impact your exercise plans? Perhaps you plan to go for a jog on your lunch break and find the temperature is simply going to be too hot. For some this is a barrier that stands in the way. Is there an indoor place in which you can work out? How about a swimming pool where you can join a water exercise class or engage in lap swimming?
Do you live in a part of the country where the possibility of extreme weather conditions prevents you from simply walking outdoors?
According to Fitbit, taking 10,000 steps “adds up to about five miles each day for most people, which includes about 30 minutes of daily exercise—satisfying the CDC’s recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.”
Working your exercise regimen around seasonal weather and extreme temperatures is do-able with some pre-planning.
Local Recreation and Park Facilities and Programs
Knowing what your local parks and community recreation center or local swimming pool offers can potentially provide you with plenty of ideas for exercising in warm temperatures.
If your summer evenings are free and it is cooler to exercise, consider these options:
Many recreation and exercise programs are offered after work hours during the week and on weekends.
Consider trying a short-duration exercise program with a beginning and end date.
Some communities have private swim or racquet clubs with a variety of fitness amenities that you can join for a limited time if you don’t want to commit to a year-long membership.
On warm summer nights, trade your walking or jogging clothes for your bathing suit and join your local swimming pool’s water aerobics class.
For more cardio, lap swimming is also a great workout. If you don’t want to get your hair or face wet, use a kickboard and work out your legs, or perform the breaststroke or sidestroke.
(Image by Unsplash)
Even if your swimming skills are underdeveloped, don a pair of water shoes and walk back and forth in the shallow end. These are surprisingly effective alternatives to lap swimming and will keep you cool.
Friends and Family
Longer summer evenings mean more time for evening fitness activities with your family. After dinner, get everyone moving during a brisk evening walk. If you have dogs, they will appreciate walking in the cooler evening temps, too.
I walk with one of my friends from the gym one day a week for an hour. We meet at her workplace and walk in the neighborhood, as she graciously walks one of my dogs.
For Morning People
If evenings don’t work, try waking up earlier in the morning with the earlier sunrise. An early morning walk, run, or another type of exercise can really kick-start your day.
For myself, I prefer physical activity in the mornings. In Sacramento, we usually have cooler mornings than evenings. If the temperature will be above 95 degrees on a given day, I’ll take the dogs for a 20-minute walk, come back home, eat breakfast then head to the gym.
If I am home on a weekend, I will get up early, grab my inflatable SUP and take the short 15-minute drive to the lake and get a stand-up paddle session in before the heat intensifies and the crowds arrive.
When I worked full time the last 5 years before I retired, I adjusted my work schedule to arrive at 9am and did my gym workout at 6:15am, giving me enough time to shower, eat breakfast and get to my workplace.
Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine. You may decide that you really like it and be motivated to continue.
What is Stopping You?
Don’t let hot weather prevent you from getting your exercise each day. Life can get in the way and disrupt our routines, but don’t let a couple of setbacks be a barrier to regular exercise. Unfortunately, it seems easier to abandon our exercise plans when faced with extreme weather and temperature.
And of course, be safe! If the weather conditions are dangerous or if the air quality is poor, stay indoors.
It is important to remember that you only need 30 minutes of physical activity a day to reap countless health benefits. Three 10-minute sessions briskly walking outdoors on a hot day still works.
For alternatives to your favorite exercise, taking a walk is always better than not going at all, whether you are wearing your shorts to stay cool or your scarf or hat to stay warm.
As I continue writing my No Excuses Fitness book, my goal on this blog is to post an article about fitness at least once a month.
Over 4 years ago I wrote an article about how much time we all need to dedicate to being physically active. This is an update to that post.
Did you know that there are 168 hours in a week? Go ahead, count them. Seems like a lot.
To briefly summarize, within this 168 hours, 40 hours are used for work, school or your vocation. This is for an average person. Sleeping uses up 56 hours in a week, which equals 8 hours per night, if we are lucky. What is left over is 72 hours a week for personal care which includes leisure time.
Your challenge is to find three hours a week for physical activity. Out of 168 hours in a week, three hours should be do-able. I created this info-graphic to show how the hours are broken down.
Can You Dedicate Three Hours a Week to Physical Activity?
Let’s tackle this step-by-step.
Step 1: Assess your health. Are you overweight? Are you unable to exercise due to a medical condition or disability? Do you simply need more motivation to be physically active?
Step 2: Identify barriers preventing you from exercising. Some of these barriers include geographical, environmental and structural.
Geographical barriers can be where you work in relation to where you live. Do you have a long commute to and from work? This can eat into your personal care time. Do you live in a part of the country with extreme weather conditions that may prevent you from simply walking outdoors? If your workplace does not have amenities like a gym or area for exercise, this can be a big deterrent to finding time for physical activity.
Environmental barriers include poor access to parks or other leisure spaces in your community. Perhaps there are very few places to safely ride a bicycle near where you live. If you live in an urban environment, walking may be a great exercise option, but that can be hampered by weather, crowds, events, and other deterrents.
Structural barriers to physical activity can be money, transportation, clothing and equipment, or even the skills to participate in an activity.
Lack of time is the ultimate structural barrier.
Step 3: Assess your interests. Simply put, what do you like to do? What were some fun activities you enjoyed as a young person? Are you interested in trying these activities again as an adult? Once you identify your interest, are there barriers getting in your way? This is where many folks talk themselves out of trying something new.
Step 4: Take action. Now that you have chosen your ideal fitness activity, let’s say “walking”, how will you do this? What time of day works best for you? Can you walk on your lunch break at work? Can you devote 30 minutes, 6 days a week (equals three hours) to walking? If not, how about one hour per day, three days per week? Thirty minutes per day is the minimum time for optimum cardiovascular fitness.
And yes, you can break up the 30 minutes into smaller increments during the day. Other action steps include taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. While at work, walk the long way around to the break room or to a meeting. Even adding a few extra steps can add up to small time increments getting added in to your fitness time.
I work on my university campus two days a week. For my night class, I purposely park close to where the classroom is, so when I finish, I can walk safely to my car. But this means I have to walk at least 10 minutes to get to the building where my office is located. From the parking lot to the office and back to the classroom is at least 20 minutes broken up into 10. And I take the 4 flights up the stairs on days I’m not lugging my rolling cart.
Step 5: Mix up your routine once you take action. Add a few more minutes to your current workout. Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or boot camp. Adding a completely new and different type of workout exercises new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine. If gyms are not your thing, check into your local recreation center for exercise or active leisure classes.
Now that I am staring 60 in the face, I also recognize the value of strength training. Even just 20-30 minutes, two days a week of light weights can help strengthen your bones and muscles.
Step 6: Sustainability. Now that you have created an exercise routine, is it sustainable? If you get bored easily, examine why you are bored. For example, if you walk your dog through the same neighborhood day after day, it can get dull. Perhaps you can walk with a friend.
I started walking weekly with a friend from the gym who is also my hair stylist. We walk for no less than one hour exploring nearby neighborhoods and she graciously walks with one of my two dogs.
Joining structured fitness classes with regular attendees and instructors can also be an incentive.
If the weather is uncooperative, take a walk in the nearest shopping mall (leave your $ and credit cards at home). Perhaps your community has a walking club associated with the neighborhood recreation center. Exercising with others is a good way to stay accountable and not give up. Plus, it’s FUN!
And finally, take a good look at your time. How valuable is your health compared to the time you have left in the day? We easily get caught up in the hectic pace of life and allow our three hours of physical activity to be used up in other ways. Work and family obligations are tough to overcome.
Creating a simple daily schedule for your fitness time should be as high a priority as work and family. If you are unwell, you will not be able to work, or take care of your family.
See more of what other folks are doing for their fitness and health!
January is the time of year when folks think and do something about their fitness and exercise regimens.
It is very easy to give up on attempts at exercise when the weather is freezing cold or you and everyone around you are dealing with illnesses and colds. Even I have to force myself to get that gym workout in every other day, and yes, my dogs always need walking.
I am thankful I have my Fitbit to gently nag me to get my 10,000 steps in every day. Do I get them all in? Not every day, but that external motivation does push me a little but further.
With my school schedule set up differently this semester, I can take my favorite Friday morning yoga class again. Boy do I need it!
I end up parking far away on campus from my office so that I have to walk a ways. Every little bit of activity that you can sneak in every day counts for more benefits than you think.
I am sharing some older posts that may help and motivate you toward your fitness goals.
Please check out this previous post. Comments are closed here.
In the world of physical activity and exercise, how far will walking take you?
This quote by Ellen DeGeneres, all kidding aside, implies people who walk daily will reap a host of health benefits.
Sources agree that walking boosts memory and battles obesity. In addition, walking helps address other health concerns like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. Other physical benefits include toning the rear and legs, as well as enhancing balance.
Two bloggers share their own ideas and benefits of walking.
February is already here and you have been working diligently the whole month of January to achieve your fitness goals. Perhaps you have been swimming, strength training, taking yoga classes, or just walking or jogging in the fresh air. How are you feeling? Do you feel like you are accomplishing your goals?
CBS News recently reported, according to a survey by Gold’s Gym, February 9, 2016 was this year’s cliff. It was also Fat Tuesday. A bad day to feel fat! If you have gotten bored with your routine, or have already thrown in the towel, read this post now!
If you have any doubts about your exercise and fitness regimen, here are some tips to freshen up your routine and save your workouts.
1. Add more time to your workout. If you are walking for 20 minutes, add five more minutes to your time over the next two weeks. When you feel ready, add another five minutes, and so on.
2. Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or boot camp. Adding a completely new and different type of workout exercises new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine. If gyms are not your thing, check into your local recreation center for fitness classes.
3. Buddy up. To help keep you motivated, bring a guest along to your gym workouts. Many gyms offer guest incentives and low new member rates this time of year. Hiring a personal trainer can boost your workout as well as introduce you to new exercises. A trainer can motivate you and push you to work harder. Simply walking or jogging with a friend can be an added incentive to continue your workouts. Boredom is a workout killer and having a friend along can help keep you both accountable and motivated. Joining classes with regular attendees and instructors can also be an incentive.
4. Check out your workout gear. If you are wearing the same old shoes you’ve had since 2010, it may be time to change them! Look for wear and tear in your footwear to make sure you aren’t causing harm to your feet, knees and legs. If you swim, take a close look at your goggles or perhaps fins if using them. Many stores have winter clearance sales. Now is the time to buy something new to add to your exercise wardrobe. Nothing like a bright color to put a spring in your step!
5. Quantify what you have accomplished so far. Write down how many days you exercise, for how long, record any inches or weight lost (or gained). Do your clothes feel looser? Keeping an exercise journal can be very simple, from jotting on a notepad to keeping track on a mobile app. By writing things down, you can visually see what you have accomplished and see what else you might need to do to adjust.
Bonus Fitness Fix: Fitness Trackers
The latest trend in fitness has been the wearable fitness tracker. These are activity and sleep monitors that track user movements and activity levels to provide information on metrics including step count, calories burned, distance traveled, and number of hours of light and deep sleep via mobile technology. More notable are Fitbit, Misfit Wearables, and Jawbone. I recently started the wearing the Fitbit One and I am very pleased with its tracking ability. See my in-depth post Keeping Track of Your Fitness Progress.
Don’t let foul weather prevent you from getting your exercise each day. Don’t let a couple of setbacks be a barrier to regular exercise. Life can get in the way and disrupt our routines. Unfortunately, it seems easier to abandon our exercise plans when faced with time constraints or lack of interest.
We all need to live balanced lives, and committing to leisure in the form of fitness and exercise in a consistent manner can lead to better health and happiness!
As winter draws near in the Northern Hemisphere, avid cyclists and even recreational bicyclists still enjoy their rides, whether for fitness, fun, or transportation. For my Leisurely Thursday post, I share tips to help you with your fall and winter cycling experience. In temperate climates like California or Florida, where cycling can be enjoyed almost year round, fall and winter can still bring surprises to your ride.
Time Changes and Darkness
Be mindful of the time of day you ride your bike. As winter sets in, there is a lot less daylight. Plan your ride for daylight hours when possible. Motorists have enough trouble seeing cyclists in broad daylight, let alone in dawn or dusk hours. Get a good headlight and use it when the sun is low in the sky. You need a flashing red tail-light so others can see you. If you commute and ride at night, take extra care and use as much light as possible.
Darkness may also bring on undesirable loiterers. Urban bike trails can be places where homeless build their camps. Although law enforcement tries to minimize and mitigate this practice, campers and loiterers are more prolific especially in temperate geographical areas where winters are not as harsh. If you see suspicious activity, quickly ride past and avoid stopping. Even in daylight hours, be mindful of where you stop for a break. Assaults happen to both women and men.
My hubby recently experienced a flat tire near dusk. Even with his tire kit, it still took him longer than expected and darkness was upon him before his ride was done. He went out the next day and bought the headlight!
Fall and early winter can be great times for riding long distances because of the cooler air. While it may feel great to ride extra miles in 50 degree temps, the urge to drink water will lessen due to the cold. Force yourself to drink more water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Our area experiences the dry north winds which feel cool, but are very dehydrating. Also, bring food for a long ride. In cold air, you will burn more calories.
Fall and winter weather can be capricious and unsettled. If you plan a long ride, check the local weather for changes. What may start out as a warm sunny day can end in stormy, rainy weather.
Changes in seasons and weather can also add more debris on the roads and trails. Autumn will find leaves, nuts, and other tree-fall that can be dangerous when ridden over. If you ride on urban trails, be mindful of rodents that are hoarding nuts for their hibernation and winter nap. Squirrels are known to dart out suddenly onto roads and trails and can cause accidents to unsuspecting cyclists. Other animals may be seen on the roads and trails, like deer, waterfowl and other creatures foraging for food.
In late fall and winter, ice and snow can be issues. Watch for black ice on roads and urban trails and keep your eyes on the road. It is easy to get distracted while riding and fiddling with your phone, and therefore miss seeing the acorn or ice patch that takes you down.
More road debris can flatten a tire quickly, so be sure to pack your tire change kit, even if it is just a short leisurely ride. Pack two tubes just to be safe.
Clothing and Gear
Layer your clothing so that if you feel warm, you can change, then add it when you feel cold again. If your arms and legs are bare, use sunscreen, even on a cool, cloudy day. UVA and UVB rays still penetrate cloud layers and can cause sunburn. Lotion helps with windburn as well.
Wear bright, reflective clothing to be more easily seen by motorists. This can be added as a top layer over winter garb. Protect your mobile phone in plastic or something to protect it from moisture. Even if you wear your phone next to your body, wrap it, so perspiration doesn’t destroy it.
Many retail stores sell great winter cycling clothing. I’ve seen lots of riders add arm and leg warmers, helmet covers and toe warmers to their normal gear to help fend off the cold. Since my hubby is bald on top, he wears a bandana under his bike helmet to keep his head warm. Wearing a headband under your helmet also keeps your ears warm. Wearing gloves is also recommended to keep your hands warm and responsive.
I like to wear sunglasses when I ride, even on cloudy days, to protect my eyes from wind, rain, grit and bugs. The cold air always makes my eyes tear, so I also carry a small handkerchief with me. Clear lenses are also available from your retailer.
Before you head out on your winter cycling experience, check with your local bike retail store and get tips from the pros. And of course, have your bicycle checked thoroughly and tuned up if necessary. Many cyclists change their tires to a more robust tread. Add a mudguard to prevent water and mud from hitting your backside and riders directly behind you.
Depending upon where you live (ride), your bike can get very dirty from mud, debris and salt from the road. When your ride is done, clean the chains, brakes, and tires as soon as possible.
If you absolutely cannot go out on your bike, at least go to the gym and ride the stationary bike as a LAST resort!
It is no secret that being physically fit prevents illness, keeps or gets us lean, and is ideal for overall health. Everyone has their own definition of fitness. Although May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, fitness should be an attainable goal all year long.
The trouble with summer fitness is…it’s hot outside! Heat for many can be a huge deterrent to consistent exercise. Other barriers to working out in the summer-time? Vacations and travel, chasing kids, new injuries as a result of weekend warrior syndrome, and other pesky summer issues.
If you have any doubts about your exercise and fitness regimen, here are some summer fitness strategies and tips to freshen up your summer routine and keep you healthy and motivated.
1. What are your time obligations during the summer? Does the nature of your job change with the seasons? Perhaps you are a seasonal worker, college student, or school-teacher. A drastic change in work routine can be a barrier to finding the right time to exercise. Squeeze in short walks throughout the day. Shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day, offer benefits too. Make lunchtime count. While at work, keep a pair of walking shoes at your desk, and take a brisk walk during your lunch break.
If your summer evenings are free and it is cooler to exercise, try these tips:
Start a walking group. Round up friends, neighbors or co-workers for regular group walks. Plan routes through your neighborhood or near your workplace, along local parks and trails, or in a nearby shopping mall. Simply walking or jogging with a friend can be an added incentive to continue your workouts.Boredom is a workout killer and having a friend along can help keep you both accountable.
Visit your community recreation center or local swimming pool. Many recreation programs are offered after work hours. Join a club or summer sport team. In a recent post, “Who Says Adults Can’t Have Recess” there are non-competitive alternatives for organized sports
If evenings don’t work, try getting up earlier. The sun is up earlier on summer mornings, so an early morning walk or run can kick-start your day. Wake up 30 minutes earlier twice a week to exercise. Once you’ve adjusted to early-morning workouts, add another day or two to the routine.
If your days are limited, add more time to your workout. If you are walking for 20 minutes, add five more minutes to your time over the next two weeks. When you feel ready, add another five minutes, and so on. In a previous post, I suggested ways to get three hours a week for fitness.
2. If your exercise has become boring, revamp your routine. Your weekly Saturday matinee with the kids could become a weekly Saturday bike ride, rock-climbing lesson or trip to the pool. Choose activities you enjoy and you will be more likely to stay interested.
Try cross training. This can be as simple as trying a new exercise or activity. If you belong to a gym, try a spin class, zumba or body pump. Adding new exercises and rotating through different type of activities, such as walking, swimming and cycling, works out new muscles and can invigorate your fitness routine.
3. No energy to exercise? Without exercise, you’ll have no energy. It’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps you are a stay-at-home-parent and spend your summers chasing your kids. Longer summer evenings mean more time for evening fitness activities with your family. After dinner, get everyone moving during a brisk evening walk.
4. Are you a weekend warrior who is nursing a sports injury? Get professional help from a certified expert, who can monitor your movements and point you in the right direction. If your injury is serious, visit a sports medicine physician, who can evaluate you and recommend specific treatment, such as physical therapy.
If you belong to a gym, hiring a personal trainer can boost your workout as well as introduce you to new exercises. A trainer can motivate you and give you the proper exercises to help heal the injury and get you back on track.
5. If you are planning a long vacation or holiday where traveling will take you away from your routine, try these suggestions:
If your vacation takes you into the outdoors on a daily basis, embrace what the area has to offer. Plan ahead and pack the right shoes, clothing and equipment to enjoy the hiking trails, the lakes or other wonderful leisure spaces available to you.
Are you staying in a resort or hotel? Check to see what amenities it offers to guests.
If you are traveling and visiting friends or family members, ask them what they do for exercise. If you belong to a national chain health club, find a nearby gym and schedule time to go. Or visit their gym as a guest. Just about every neighborhood has a local park with recreation facilities like jogging/walking trail, tennis courts, club house or swimming pool. Again, plan ahead by asking your hosts for the name of the organization and check their online class schedule.
6. Quantify what you have accomplished so far. Keeping a record over a period of time and seeing results can be extremely motivating. Write down how many days you exercise, for how long, record any inches or weight lost (or gained). Do your clothes feel looser? Keeping an exercise journal can be very simple, from jotting on a notepad to keeping track on a mobile app. By writing things down, you can visually see what you have accomplished and see what else you might need to do to adjust.
7. Check out your gear. If you are wearing the same old shoes you’ve had since 2011, look for wear and tear to make sure you aren’t causing harm to your feet, knees and legs. If you swim, take a close look at your goggles or perhaps fins if using them. Many stores have summer clearance sales. Now is the time to buy something new to add to your exercise wardrobe. Nothing like a bright color to put a spring in your step!
Don’t let hot weather prevent you from getting your exercise each day. Don’t let a couple of setbacks be a barrier to regular exercise. Life can get in the way and disrupt our routines. Unfortunately, it seems easier to abandon our exercise plans when faced with time constraints or other barriers.
We all need to live balanced lives, and committing to leisure in the form of exercise in a consistent manner can lead to better health and happiness!
Being on the planet as long as I have, I see too often how New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. Raise your hand if you have resolved to change something in the new year and have already broken it…c’mon raise your hand higher. I know mine is raised!
We make New Year’s resolutions out of good intentions motivated in part by guilt, media hype and eek! the mirror. I challenge you to forget four resolutions and be kinder to yourself this year. Who’s with me?
Do Not Join a Gym
What, you ask? Instead of gathering during tourist season and fighting for parking spaces this month, take more walks outside. If you have a dog, walk him—he needs exercise too.
For those living in cold winter regions where walking outside is out of the question, here are some ideas: dig through your old VHS or DVD collections and pull out a Pilates, yoga or Jazzercise workout. If you have cable or satellite TV, surf through stations to find a workout channel. Yoga is great because you can stretch, relax, and minimize tension.
For those who like surfing the net, check out workouts on You-tube. I found a 10-minute workout on Pinterest called the Victoria Secret Model workout. Don’t laugh, it’s pretty darn good. Mobile devices have free apps that you can download: 7 minutes is a good one. TRX suspension training also has a download for those of you who have TRX paraphernalia at home collecting dust.
Speaking of dust, pull your stationary bike or cardio machine out of the garage and start using it. If you feel that belonging to a gym is what you need, then by all means, go join or upgrade your membership. The New Years’ deals will be around for a few more weeks. If your gym is too crowded, consider going at times/days not in prime-time. Early morning workouts are great, because you can get it out of the way, shower and head to work. But make sure you commit to going.
Do Not Start a Diet
One of the common mistakes we make when starting diets is that we approach food as something NOT to eat or enjoy. Of course, we all need to eat more nutritious foods and cut down on calories. Rather than sink our money into diets that will stop working once we stop buying/eating the food, make a list of foods YOU do enjoy.
Diets that restrict calories or food groups are designed to fail. I don’t like Paleo because I enjoy grains like oatmeal and English muffins. I picked all the foods I love and simply eat less of them. No, it is not simple. I have struggled with 15-25 pounds for several years. Tricks like using a smaller plate, measuring out portions, eating smaller meals per day more often, or sitting down at the table and eating slowly can help you begin new eating habits.
Also, do not give up your favorite treats. Allow yourself a treat now and then so you do not feel deprived. If you are dieting and have a relapse, where the dish of ice cream or the bag of chips won, DO NOT give up! Start over at the next meal or the next day. And weigh yourself only ONCE a WEEK, preferably at the same time. All these diet tricks can be found online at Weight Watchers, Nutri-system, etc., without having to join.
Do Not Quit Smoking or Drinking
Why not? There is a caveat to this. If your health is at risk TODAY, and you smoke or overindulge in alcohol, or other addictive substances, then seek immediate help. Deep inside, you know what is best for you. Continuing these behaviors puts not just you and your health at risk, but the health of your family, friends and loved ones. Addiction is nothing to mess with.
Do seek outside help to quit smoking. If you are ready to quit, use the tools available, whether it is using nicotine gum or a patch to slowly and safely quit, or by contacting your medical professional. The idea is to quit slowly. Too many people resolve to quit an addictive behavior and try to do so, either on their own, or by attempting to quit cold-turkey. Again, using tools and quitting on your own is a good start, but most people cannot sustain it for very long.
Sure, we’ve all heard how Mr. Smith abruptly quit smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and was successful. Not everyone can do that. Most of us need help and guidance to stop addictive behaviors and substance use or abuse.
Do Not Start a New Hobby
Here again, is where we feel compelled to learn something new to feel more productive with our leisure time. Over our lives our interests change and evolve. Instead of learning a whole new skill like sewing or cooking, or attempting to play the guitar or learning a foreign language, make a list of skills and hobbies you already have tried. Perhaps you starting knitting 5 years ago and dumped the needles and yarn into your craft box (with other abandoned projects?).
Go shop your closet or garage to see what toys, hobbies, crafts, etc., may be lurking, ready to be used again! I found a rug-hooking project that I started 30 years ago (to my shame). Yes, I had to You-tube how to hook the rug, but I finished it and felt pretty good about it! If you find an old project that you can re-try, many craft retail stores offer free classes where you can hone your skills and expand into new ones.
Speaking of classes, your local recreation and park department offers a variety of classes for all ages, in fitness, crafts, performing arts, martial arts, swim lessons, lap swimming, the list is endless! Most classes are inexpensive. By taking a class, you can be introduced to a new skill or hobby without putting too much money or effort into it. If you decide you do not want to continue, you can move on. Community colleges and libraries can also be good sources for free and inexpensive classes and programs.
So, yes, I tricked you. Start out your New Year with resolve, not resolutions.
If you want to change behavior or habits, do so slowly and with purpose. Ask for help. You do not have to walk this path alone. And do NOT try to set too many goals or make too many resolutions. Focus on one big item you want to change, and set another smaller goal for something else.
We all have barriers that prevent us from making small changes to our routine. Most of these barriers are of our choosing, and can be psychological or physical. If the top four resolutions don’t exist in your world, there are other things you can do to jazz up your routine. At work, see about changing your work schedule or the hours you work. Now is the time to ask about doing some work from home. If that isn’t allowed, rearrange items on your desk or in your office. Drive a new way to work, to school, to church. Better yet, take public transportation or ride your bike.
Change your perspective in some way. Choose a small, new step to making your New Year better.