An Alternative to the Gym

The crazy wind storm of Friday night left me without power (or heat) so I escaped to a friend’s house. It was warm and well lit, but not accessible to my gym, so what about my workout?

Never fear, you don’t need a gym or fancy equipment to work out. There is always the ability to go for a long walk, but the weather is snowy and it looks cold so a walk is going to have to wait. Instead I did a fairly complete total body workout using good old fashioned body weight.

I started with my four sets of sit-ups from my 200 sit-ups program. The sit-ups worked my abs and core. Next I did four sets of modified push-ups — that would be on my knees rather than my toes. Push ups are a great all around exercise working the chest, shoulders, triceps and core muscles. Even the upper back (lats) get a bit of a workout. I followed these up with lunges and squats. Lunges and squats are all you need for your lower body, working quads, hamstrings, glutes and a bit of the calves. I ended my workout with a lot of stretching; something, I have to admit, that often gets neglected. If I wanted to add some cardio, I could have added jump-roping or even jumping jacks. Instead, I’m looking forward to that walk later today.

Tone those Abs!

A friend of mine introduced me to a great website: http://www.twohundredsitups.com
This site provides an easy to follow program for strengthening and toning your abs in just 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week. They start by defining a traditional sit up, then show you how to correctly perform a crunch (or curl up) for maximum benefit for your abdominals.

The first step is to do a quick sit up test. Based on the results, you are guided through a six week program designed to get you to the ability to do two hundred sit ups. More importantly, the program will result in a strong core and tight abdominals.

Let’s try it. I did the test today (result 40, not bad I get to jump to week 3). Tomorrow I will start the program. Let me know how you do!

The Myth of the Fat Burning Zone

Cardio Zone? Fat Burning Zone? The myth exposed! Check this out, it is good! Yuri Elkaim, a fitness trainer explains how the higher the intensity of your workout, the better the cardio and fat burning benefits. Check this out…

Walking vs. Running

Let’s compare the benefits of walking to running. Both walking and running will improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, help you lose weight and improve your overall fitness. Unlike bicycling, both are weight bearing exercise, so both will help build bone density.

Walking is definitely easier on your feet, knees and lower back. It is one of the safest exercises and provides the cardiovascular benefits without the stresses of running. But to get the same benefits of running, you have to walk briskly and walk longer — about twice as long. In terms of calories burned, an hour of walking equals a half hour of running.

For maximum health and weight loss benefits, you have to walk “briskly”. Strolling around the block won’t do it. Ideally, you should work up to waking a 15 minute per mile pace, or 4 miles an hour.

To get used to that pace, start on a treadmill. Walk comfortably for a few minutes to get your base line pace; then increase the pace by .5 for as long as you can; rest by going back down to your comfortable pace. When you feel at ease, increase your pace again, etc.

Walk, Walk, Walk

Walking is great exercise.  It is easy on your joints, it is free, and it is easy.   Walking also has tremendous health benefits.  According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can:

  • Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Manage your weight
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your overall fitness

A healthy goal is 10,000 steps a day.  Translated into distance, that is about 5 miles a day.  But you don’t have to set out on long walks every day, you can pick up miles without even knowing it!

To track your steps, pick up a pedometer at any drug store or sporting goods store.  (note: the cheap pedometers go click, click, click when you walk and they get annoying, so you may want to get a good one).  Wear the pedometer for a few days to get an idea of how many steps you typically take, then try to increase it 500-1000 steps a day until you work up to 10,000 steps.

Whenever possible, walk.  Walk the dog a little further, walk with a friend, park further from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, whenever possible walk to the bank,  the post office or the coffee shop.  If they are too far, drive part of the way, then walk the rest of the way.  Some other ideas: when you have to take the kids to practice, use the waiting time to walk — they don’t want you watching anyway; or schedule a walking meeting rather than a lunch!