Thursday, July 10, 2008

You Can Fit in Fitness

It’s the most overused excuse in the fitness world, “I just don’t have the time.” Here is my question to you – do you have time to brush your teeth, watch a 30 minute TV show before bed, or go have coffee with a friend at lunch? If you said yes to any of these, then you have time in your day to exercise.

I can already hear the next excuse forming in your brain, “but I need to watch TV for an half hour to calm down before bed.” Well, watching TV is one of the worst things you can do before bed, as it stimulates the brain, so you actually take longer to fall asleep after. Better idea? How about shut of the tube, and enjoy a few minutes of relaxing yoga, or even just lying in a dark room to take a few deep breaths. You will sleep better, and feel more energized the next day.

But I digress, let’s go through a day and see just how many times you can sneak in an extra squat or two!

Your first opportunity is before you even get out of bed in the morning. When you wake up, take a moment to roll onto your back, take a nice deep breath and stretch out. Then bend your knees and place your feet on the bed, and tilt your pelvis back and forth a couple of times (push your low back into the bed as you lift your pubic bone toward the ceiling, and then arch your low back up as you push your tailbone into the bed). Next turn over onto all fours, and do a cat stretch (arch your mid back up toward the ceiling, and then relax). Repeat a couple of times.

OK, so how long did that take – two minutes? If you don’t have time for that, then set your alarm clock two minutes earlier. You aren’t going to notice a two-minute decrease in sleep.

I am sure you have all adjusted your morning routine to give yourself time to sit and have at least a quick breakfast (and if not, you better adjust your alarm clock a tad more)! Sitting gives another great exercise opportunity, as you can do some quadriceps strengthening! This is one of the easiest exercises – simply straighten your legs out, one at a time, and contract your quadriceps muscles when your leg is fully extended. Then relax and repeat on the other side.

No time to sit? No problem, just do some calf raises while you are brushing your teeth, because I assume you have time to brush your teeth!

Even Driving to work provides chances for fitness. You can stretch out your neck and forearms (great idea if you do computer work all day) at red lights. You can even do bicep curls.

It’s not a new idea to park further from wherever you are going, so why are we not doing it? I have caught myself driving around scoping out the closest spot. It is simply a bad habit, but habits can be changed!

Ok, so now you are at work. Definitely no time for fitness, right? Wrong! Go for a walk at break or lunch – take a coworker with you. Don’t take a lunch? Remember those quadriceps exercises I told you about, well you can do those at your desk too, or calf raises if you are standing. Of course there is always the stairs/elevator controversy. Work on the 17th floor? Walk up to floor 5 and then take the elevator. Maybe next week you will walk to floor 6, etc. You can even do squats while talking on the phone.

Back home at the end of a long day, and you are exhausted! Now it is time to make dinner, get the family fed, clean up the kitchen, get the kids to bed, and hopefully have a little quiet time for yourself. Sounds like there is no way you can exercise. Well I hate to say it again, but wrong! Our family goes for a walk around the block after supper most nights. This gives everyone some exercise after supper, lets us spend some quality time together, and also poops out our boy, so that he is ready for sleep!

You finally have a couple of hours to yourself, and what do you do? Many of us are guilty of sitting down to watch TV, read a book, or play on the computer. So sit for an hour and do it, and then take 15 to 20 minutes to run up and down the stairs, do squats, sit ups, pushups, some bicep or triceps curls, just something. Then sit back down and do whatever you want again. You will be much more productive after the short break, and probably end up getting more accomplished than if you hadn’t stopped! You will also use up some of that stored energy so that you can fall asleep better. I find I get restless legs at night if I have a week of non-exercise, I think it is my bodies way of telling me to move!

The bottom line is, most of us are awake for about 15 to 16 hours a day. You can find 20 minutes to exercise (not necessarily all together either), you just need to think about it and make it a habit. If you decide to do a lunchtime walk, then recruit a friend and put it in your schedule.

I now do calf raises every time I brush my teeth, I run up the stairs rather than walk, I do stretches at work between appointments, and every morning before I get up. I do squats and pushups during commercial breaks, and we have a family walk after supper. I also regularly do yoga, fitness videos, and run, but the information I am providing is how to get going. You can add the hour-long workouts once you start to like the feel of fitness, and I know you will!