Does your activity level need a boost before summer hits? Did you hunker down hard this past winter choosing the couch over getting outside for walks in the ice & snow?
Here is a spring remedy that will inject some energy and maybe a little more fun into your life. How’s that? With a 7-day plan of “fast breaks” of activity! A mere 30 minutes a day of active living has been documented to increase your energy levels by 65%, reduce fatigue, make you sleep better and improve your memory to name but a few perks.
But what if exercise isn’t “your thing”, you might ask. I admit I’ve been an avid exerciser since elementary school. To this day, I find myself getting irritable when I haven’t exercised for a day or two. But I have subsequently learnt that not everyone feels the same way about exercise. My roommate is an example of someone who was happy with a fairly sedentary life. That is up until last week when he joined The 30 Day Exercise Challenge. He was previously quoted as saying “exercise kills”, jokingly of course. He’s now committed to riding his BMX around Brackendale whenever he needs to do local errands. We are 7 days into the Challenge and he’s doing well aside from some sore leg and neck muscles. While I have lots of faith in his endeavor, it’s early on in the Challenge and like New Years Resolutions, “all or nothing” approaches are not often successful.
I offer you exercise is “small bite size” amounts that add up to a more energized and hopefully happier YOU!
Here’s a 7-day plan to enable you to move MORE. This will NOT turn you into an athlete, it will simply have you moving more on a daily basis, helping to create a healthy habit of exercise. Before you know it though, you may get hooked and actually take on more but for right now, it’s about starting small to avoid blowouts and throwing in the towel on day 2!
Creating a new habit isn’t easy. It requires positive past experience and enough repetition that it becomes automatic. So let this be a jumping off point for you:
Sunday: This is from the RealAge.com website….do you know which hobby has probably added years to the longest-lived people in the world? It’s gardening. Okinawans — whose men typically live to age 78, women to age 86 — have a long tradition of working with soil. The benefits of gardening reach body and soul! Get out in your backyard, do ten minutes of raking, pull weeds of another ten minutes and then 10 minutes of stretching! The hard part about this? Stopping after the ten minutes of raking or pulling. Who can resist all the rest of the work needing doing? YOU. Pacing is important. Pass the rack on to your spouse, child, neighbor… Remember to be kind to your body, you’ll be grateful tomorrow. Don’t have a yard, do some spring cleaning: Pick a room, set a timer and stop after 20 minutes. Stretch for ten minutes. Voila! First day down, 6 to go.
Monday: Clear out the living room, pop in a DVD from the library or download something from iTunes or NetFlix and move in your own living room. Sparkpeople.com sells a Cardio Blast DVD that features 6 different 10-minute workout routines that can be done at home. Click here to find out more about it. Maybe you have a great playlist. Pull the curtains closed and dance to those hits of the 80’s that bring back fond memories. Or if there’s a good morning show to put in the background, get two plastic milk jugs out of the recycling bin, fill them with some water (1 litre is roughly 2 pounds). After marching on the spot for 1-2 minutes to warm up, do a set of squats, maybe some biceps curls, lie down and pretend you are bench pressing, get up and do some lunges. Drop the water. March on the spot for another 1-2 minutes. Repeat the four exercises. Stretch for 5 minutes and you’ve just done roughly 25 minutes of exercise. A study conducted at Boston Sports Clubs found that participants who did 20-30 minutes of exercise were more consistent than those who did workouts lasting 45-60 minutes. Congratulations!
Tuesday: Get outside with runners on and headphones plugged in- bring along a good upbeat soundtrack. Several websites create playlists that have beats conducive to getting a fast walking pace going. Find walking boring. Borrow someone’s GPS and go geo-caching. Squamish area has several of these, some will be under the 30 minutes to find. Adds an element of adventure to a “daily walk”. Check out an earlier post this week describing geocaching. There’s a map of the local caches at the bottom too.
Wednesday: Clip a pedometer to your waist band and just aim for 10,000 steps in a day- this is the recommended amount for good health. It’s a great tool to see what an average day is like for you. Then you can make a small effort to increase the previous day’s number by 500 steps at a time. Be prepared to invest in new shoes shortly though, you may be hooked! Order yours through our online store and pick it up at either the Downtown or the Highlands locations.
Thursday: Meet a friend or co-worker who’s lunch hour coincides with yours and see how much of your local ‘hood you can cover in 20 minutes. Once back at your desk, take two 5 minute breaks, maybe while talking on the phone with a headset on, to stretch your wrists, shoulders, neck and facial muscles, especially if you work at a desk all day long! Visit this link for “office appropriate stretches”.
Friday: Pick up a yoga schedule at any one of the 4 studios (click here for Bodyvine Yoga’s current schedule) or 3 gyms in town and find a time you can attend. If you’re a complete beginner, choose a restorative class. Don’t let intimidation stop you from attending. While yogi’s are bendy, they don’t expect YOU to be. Honor your body, start slow. Pretend you are the only one in class aside from the instructor so that you don’t compare yourself to the person next to you. Don’t want to be inside today? Take a dog from the Pound out for a walk.
Saturday: Schedule an “exercise date” with someone special. Instead of dinner and a movie, pack a snack, hike to a beautiful viewpoint or out on the Spit and watch kiteboarders. Walk to Brennan Park to watch or join friends playing ball. Ride you bike along the myriad of local trails.
It may help to think of exercise as “me” time. Make ten minute appointments with yourself to nurture your spirit. If you’re afraid you’ll get hurt, get some outside help from a personal trainer, physiotherapist or chiropractor but don’t let that be your excuse!
Still don’t think you can do it? Get support. Many communities exist online and offline. Be resourceful and reach out. You will be rewarded.
Sue Shalanski has been practicing physiotherapy in Squamish for over ten years. Her clinic, Reach Physio Solutions, runs 30 Day Exercise Challenges to support people who want to create a healthy habit of daily exercise, just 30 minutes a day. Visit reachphysio.com or join our fan page on Facebook by looking up “Reach Physio” to find out about future events.