Friday, June 24, 2011

Side slides

Side slides are an excellent and fun exercise to tone your inner thigh muscles.  They are best done on a smooth surface such as tile or laminate, wearing good work out shoes.  Start in a standing position, feet together with toes turned out slightly (Charlie Chaplin type stance).  Lunge out to the right side into a half squat, and then lightly drag your left foot over to the right, as you straighten up to starting position. 

Repeat the same to the left side.  Do 1 to 3 sets of 12 reps, and feel the burn!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sit Less, Live More

We all know that sitting for prolonged periods of time is not good for us.  It puts pressure on our spine, compresses the backs of our legs, and often means we are also slouching over a computer or into a couch.  Did you know, however, that just the act of sitting for hours on end, aside from ergonomic issues, increases your chances of having a heart attack by about 50%?

According to a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, lifestyles of 17,000 people were followed for 13 years, and it found that there was a 54% higher chance of dying from a heart attack for those who sat for long periods of the day.  

It didn’t make a difference if the people smoked or exercised; the results were still the same.

As soon as you sit down, your leg muscles literally stop firing, and calorie burning drops to 1 calorie per minute.  This means that during an eight-hour shift at work, you burn only 480 calories. 

It’s not just the sluggish metabolism that is affected, however, as sitting also causes reductions in enzyme activity, drops good cholesterol levels, and reduces insulin effectiveness, not to mention the flat butt!

In all seriousness though, if you work at a desk all day you might be feeling a little helpless right now, but there are things you can do!

First of all, any time you can stand up, do it.  Even if you literally just stand up and then sit right back down again.  Stand up when you are talking on the phone, march in place if you can, take frequent short breaks to walk the stairs, or just stretch and mobilize your body.
Even tapping your toes or doing calf raises at your desk while sitting will make a big difference if done regularly through the day.  We were always told not to fidget as children, but it is actually a great thing to do!  Move your torso in the chair, move your legs around, do shoulder circles, just keep moving.

If you have regular meetings at work, see if you can have everyone stand either during the meeting, or before and after.  Make it a company policy to add a little movement to your day.  It will actually boost productivity.

There are even little rubber discs (Sissel Sit-Fit) that you put on your office chair to help you engage muscles while in the seated position.  Another option, although more cumbersome is to use a physio ball to sit on, again your core muscles must be active to keep you upright on them while seated.

After work, please don’t go home and sit in front of the computer or television.  If you must watch TV, stand up and fold laundry, clean, sweep the floors, do gentle exercising, or march in place.  Use TV time as catch up time on chores, or exercise time. 

We all have to sit, but if there is an option to stand, or walk, or move, think of your health and take the opportunity!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Favorite Snack Recipes

Many people are more active as the weather gets nicer, and so your appetite increases.  If you don’t have wholesome snacks on hand, it can be too tempting to grab something quick and processed.  Keep a few of these ready, and you don’t have to worry about blowing your healthy eating this summer, just because you are starving and want food NOW!

1)    Lettuce leaves or celery sticks spread with almond butter
2)    Date (pitted), stuffed with a couple of almonds or walnuts
3)    Carrot and broccoli sticks dipped in hummus
4)    Chia seed, hemp seed and buckwheat groats (1 TBSP each) mixed with coconut milk – allow to sit for a few minutes to let chia expand and thicken.  Mix and enjoy!  Try with fresh berries or banana – yum!
5)    Plain organic yogurt mixed with berries and hemp seeds or freshly ground flax seeds
6)    Rye crisp crackers with sardines or salmon and fresh sprouts

All of these options will give you a nice mix of protein, carbohydrate and fat to keep you going during active spring and summer days!  Just remember to drink your water too!