One week down and I am proud of my progress. Granted, come June I may be singing a different song. Like most parents, at the start of a new season, we sit down and schedule the kids’ activities. This winter, I have made sure to schedule my own. Each day I have allotted time for myself- sometimes just a half hour and sometimes three hours.
To help me achieve my goal of being more fit and incorporating exercise into my daily living, I spoke with certified CanFitPro Instructor Vanessa Reeve last week. Part one of this interview focused on the benefits of exercise and why it should be a part of everyone’s daily life. This week Vanessa offers tips and suggestions on how to do just that.
Vanessa advocates setting a goal (realistic, people!) and telling everyone so that they can support you. A realistic goal should be attainable and to give yourself a bit of motivation dangle, a carrot: i.e. buying a new pair of jeans, a dinner at a nice restaurant, a new book – whatever makes you happy!
An ideal fitness routine should include:
- Strength/weight training 2 – 4 times per week
- Cardio training 3 – 7 times per week (a minimum of 25 min of exertion)
- Flexibility training 3 – 7 times per week
Before you throw your hands up in the air, insisting that you don’t have the time for this, consider a few things. Firstly, flexibility training is stretching. It can be as formal as attending a yoga class or more casual like stretching while your watching TV. Just don’t stretch for the bag of chips!
Secondly, weight training does not mean investing in a set of dumbbells (although free weights can be an affordable option for at-home sessions). There are many exercises you can do that use your own body weight for resistance.
Joining a gym provides an opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals who are also working towards a goal. The sense of belonging can be empowering and give you the nudge that you need to stay on track. Classes taught by instructors take the guesswork out of planning a routine, and generally instructors kick your butt in ways you never would.
January marks the time of year when new gym memberships spike. Many of people who rush to sign up at the start of the year stop going just a few weeks into their new routine. Perhaps their goals were not realistic (in the beginning consider making a commitment to go to the gym twice a week instead of everyday and then slowly increasing your attendance) or maybe the gym environment isn’t the ideal fit.
How To Exercise At Home and Move More!
- Walk more. If it is possible, walk to work. After dinner leave the mess behind and get for a brisk walk. Taking your kids for a walk after dinner could the ticket to getting them to sleep better. Older kids can ride their bikes while you walk/run and with younger kids you can makeup games en route. Something I like to do with my boys is we run to the lightpost as fast as we can, then walk to the next one.
- If you live near a school, take your kids with you and let them play in the field while you run/walk laps.
- Don’t drive to the store if you can walk and if you do drive, park furthest away.
- On your seventeenth trip to the doctor this month alone, take the stairs instead of the stuffy elevator.
- Take a bike ride on a path. Most cities have intricate bike paths that are family friendly.
- While watching TV or talking with your kids at night, get down on the ground and do some simple abdominal crunches (younger kids love to count along with you), static squats and lunges.
- Invest in simple equipment like a ball and sit on it while typing on the computer. These stability exercises help to tone core muscles. Newborn babies often love being lulled to sleep with a light bounce.
- Make it a family affair. Consider taking up a sport that the entire family can do together. Hiking, skiing, biking and skating are just a few sports that both young and old can engage in.
- Rent exercise/yoga DVDs from the library, borrow them from a friend, check on-line for free demonstrations (YouTube has plenty).
Date Night Doesn’t Have To Be In A Restaurant Or A Movie Theatre
Instead of the usual fare of dinner and/or a movie, why not try something new. Lori Lowe who writes a fabulous marriage blog recently featured Lindsay Rietzsch author of How To Date Your Spouse. Rietzsch suggests to “ignite the romance” consider activities that allow you to be close such as:
Why not take it a step further and try something neither of you have done before. Take a snowboard lesson, rock climb or check out the neighbourhood yoga studio. Lots of studios offer free trial classes so take advantage of them!
Last year, my husband and I tried spinning together and not only was it an incredible work out (I still do it) but it was a lot of fun learning something together. At night we’d commiserate over sore muscles and during the class we’d motivate each other to keep at it. Between pregnancies, he taught me to water ski. Lucky for me, he’s a great teacher and very patient. We had a ton of laughs and I still remember the look on his face when I lapped the lake.
Doing activities together not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but it increases intimacy. If your partner needs a little encouraging to give hot yoga a try, share this tibit of info. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise enhances libido in women and decreases erectile dysfunction in men. Now, if that’s not enough to get up off the couch . . . or maybe get down on it!
Just To Take Away Any More Excuses You Have, Vanessa Answers:
Q: My ass looks like a pancake. Any exercises to tighten and tone?
A: Spot reducing isn’t ideal and doesn’t always work. The best way to tone and tighten is to do a complete body workout. That being said, lunges and squats are the best moves to firm a tooshie.
Q: I know that weight bearing exercise is vital for bone strength but I don’t want to look like I could grace the cover of Body Builder’s Weekly. Will pumping iron make me bulky?
A: No, not if you are using low weights and doing lots of repetitions.
Q: Does strolling on the treadmill count as cardio?
A: In order to see physical improvements/changes, you need to be doing a cardio exercise where your heart rate is up for a minimum of 25 minutes to the point of breathlessness.
In a few months, I will report back (part of making my goals known) for a check-in. To get us all off the couch, please share your favourite songs to work-out to. Music is a great motivator! And/or please share what it is you do with your spouse, friends or solo to stay active.