The holiday season can wreak havoc with your best intentions to stay in shape. It’s easy to get de-railed with parties, travel, and general disruption to your normal routines. Be proactive: Plan your strategy now to maintain your fitness when life gets hectic. Use these 10 TIPS to keep on track for the New Year.
1) Consistency is more important than intensity when you are cultivating an exercise habit. Don’t worry about how hard, how far or how long you work out, just work on cultivating more movement every day. Habits persist even when we are at low energy and weak self-control.
2) Frequency is more important than duration, that is, aim to be active more frequently than for longer sessions. Accumulate your exercise in doses. Studies show that that exercise accumulated in short bouts of 10 or 15-minutes offers weight loss and aerobic fitness benefits comparable to those achieved in longer workouts. Take 2 or 3 shorter walks every day. Work them into your schedule.
3) Think “activity” instead of “workout.” Find opportunities to be active during the course of your day. Walk to work, take the steps, lift and carry your groceries, do housekeeping chores energetically. It all counts!
4) Enlist support. Make it a family affair. Grab your spouse, partner or friend and go for a walk after dinner. Take the kids and dog to the park for a game of frisbee. Reach out to a workout buddy.
5) Combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting. For every hour you’re sitting, get up and move around for five minutes. The most immediate impact of prolonged sitting is on our vasculature. Studies show that by causing a decline in blood flow to the legs, it contributes to narrowing and hardening of the arteries. To counteract this, if you can’t stand up and move, then just tap your toes and circle your ankles!
6) Take the stairs for a quick “exercise snack.” As little as 20 seconds of brisk stairclimbing done several times a day can improve aerobic fitness and leg power. Add intervals to any cardio exercise to boost the metabolism and burn more calories.
7) Count your steps with your smart phone, pedometer, or other fitness tracking device. See how many steps you average and then build on them. 4000 steps a day will extend your life, even when taken in your living room. And for extra longevity, additional increments of 4000 steps add up to even more benefit.
8) Use the small moments of your day to do a few minutes of bodyweight exercises, no equipment required! Do diagonal pushups and stationary lunges while you’re standing at the kitchen sink. Stand up at your workstation and do 10 squats. Stretch out your hamstrings while relaxing on the couch.
9) Practice “power posture.” Use your muscles to sit or stand up straight. Lengthen the spine, elongate the sides of your torso. Roll your shoulders down and back. Stack your ribcage over your hips and engage your core muscles by drawing your naval back toward your spine. Stay tall!
10) Creaky joints and stiff muscles? Daily stretching helps counteract the wear and tear of everyday life. Work out the kinks before jumping out of bed in the morning with gentle limbering exercises. Then stretch out tired muscles while relaxing on the couch in the evening to discharge tension and get a better night’s sleep. Stretch every day for best results but at minimum 2 or 3 times a week.
Joan Pagano has specialized in strength training for women since 1988 – training, teaching, and writing books on the subject, including Strength Training Exercises for Women (DK, 2014). As a natural segue, Joan developed an expertise in coaching women on the best exercises to enhance their bone health.
She is recognized by the industry as a leading authority on exercise program design for osteoporosis. Joan is certified as Exercise Physiologist by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and is on the Ambassadors Leadership Council for the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation. She is the owner of Joan Pagano Fitness in NYC and the former trainer to Jacqueline and Caroline Kennedy.For more about Joan, please visit her website www.joanpaganofitness.com
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