October 16, 2018

Add Function to your Fitness with Stairs

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Get Functional with Stairs!

Stair climbing is one of the most functional exercises. Think of how many times you may step up or step down during the day. Stair climbing strengthens your heart and lungs, your muscles, your balance, your agility and coordination.  Start slow and easy after a proper walking or range of motion warm up of 8-10 minutes. Form is important when climbing stairs for exercise. Keep your upper body straight up, with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips. Even though you’ll be looking down to insure safe stepping, focus on looking down with your eyes only rather than slouching your entire upper body forward and down. Ten stairs is a great repetition range to begin, followed by walking or marching in place to keep heart rate moderate during rest periods. Then, climb the next set of 10, and so on.  So whether you revisit the classic stair climber machine at your gym or find a flight of stairs in your community, consider adding function to your fitness with this exercise.

 

*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

Little Bits of Fitness

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Lots of little bits of fitness add up to big health benefits.

You may not have a full 30 minute or an hour to devote to fitness, that’s understandable sometimes. So, do you have 5 minutes? 10 minutes here are there? Did an appointment or meeting cancel? Fitness is cumulative, so every little bit adds up to a stronger heart, lungs and muscles. Look around you during the day, do you notice ways to be active, more active? Take the stairs, park farther away from where you’re going, do balance exercises while standing in line, walk while waiting for an appointment, do range of motion when waiting, practice deep breathing, bike your errands, kick the soccer ball with your kids, romp with your dog. Every minute during the day of incorporating physical activity adds to your level of fitness. Keep moving!

Make Jump Rope Your Go-To Exercise

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Jump Rope for your heart and your muscles!

Jump ropes are not just for kids! Jumping rope is not only a challenging cardio workout, but will challenge your muscles, agility and balance as well. Complete a 8-10 minute walking warm up. Start with 3-5 intervals of 10 jumps and build from there. Finish your workout with a 5 minute cool-down. Vary speed, change from one leg to both legs, from one jump to two with each spin of the rope.

 

*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

 

Improve Your Fitness with a Cardio Circuit

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Cardio Circuit

Do an at-home cardio circuit to burn calories. Do 10-15 reps each. Repeat 2-3 times through:

Jump Squats. Begin by lowering down into a squat. Immediately when standing, jump straight up overhead.

Jumping Jacks. Jump both feet wide, arms together overhead. Jump both feet together, arms back down to your sides.

Jog in Place. Jog in place focusing on powering your arms and lifting your knees up high.

 

*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

 

 

Want to start running?

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Walk/Run Intervals!

Want to start running, but don’t know where or how to begin? Walk/run intervals make the transition manageable. A common mistake is doing too much too soon. Here’s how to progress gradually reducing risk of injury and burnout:

Once you have a regular walking program 3 days a week, begin with 10 second intervals in the middle of your workout. Warm up for 8-10 minutes, perform a series of 10 second jogging or running intervals followed by 30 second or more walking intervals. Conclude your workout with a 5-10 minute cool down. Gradually, add seconds and then minutes to your jogging/running intervals and decrease your walking intervals.

 

*Consult your physician before performing exercise.

 

Do Jumping Jacks!

Get Fit Quick Tip:

Do Jumping Jacks!

Jumping jacks are a great high intensity cardio option if you’re short on time, short on equipment and short on space. Perform your desired number of jumping jacks, followed by jogging or walking in place for recovery. Repeat until your desired workout time is complete.

Vary the motion by adding a squat, moving only one arm at a time, moving forward, crossing your legs during the in-step, lowering your arms only half way, just to name a few. This workout is limited only by your creativity.

 

*Always consult your physician before beginning exercise.

Cardio Basics for Beginners by Mary Miriani

“Cardio” is an accepted nickname for cardiovascular or aerobic exercise. This type of exercise works the lungs and heart muscle to increase its efficiency obtaining and pumping oxygen and nutrient carrying blood around the body. Obviously, the better the heart and lungs work, the more healthy you will be, so it is very worthwhile to start a cardio exercise program even if you are not trying to lose weight.
 
Many people are not patient enough to go about starting aerobic (cardio) exercise correctly and often quit soon due to injury or exhaustion without achieving any real results. My first word of advice is to be patient, and proceed slowly. There are 4 things to consider when starting cardio known to fitness professionals as the FITT principle (Frequency, Intensity, Type, and Time). Simply put, that means choose something you like to do (Type) several times a week (Frequency) for a particular amount of minutes (Time) at a certain effort (Intensity.) It is important to increase only one of these things at a time as you continue your cardio program to keep you safe.  
 
Type:
The type of exercise you choose is entirely up to you, but to be considered cardio, it must keep your heart rate elevated for a minimum of 10 minutes. Do not choose an activity you don’t enjoy simply just because it burns more calories. You will end up quitting. There are many appropriate exercises such as walking, biking, hiking, dancing, running, rowing, and kickboxing. At first choose one thing, but as you get going, feel free to add as many as you like. Variety will keep you exercising for life. The types of exercises you choose should also be based on your ablility. Just as a baby doesn’t start walking before crawling, do not start running before you can walk. Also, it is important to consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program to rule out any possible medical issues, especially if you are over 40 and have health risks such as smoking or family history of heart disease.
 
Frequency and Time:
Beginning exercisers should start with no more than 20 minutes of cardio 3 times a week at a moderate pace. Build slowly and appropriately toward the standard recommendation of 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week (30 minutes, 5 times a week.) If you have done nothing for a long time, it’s important to allow your body sufficient time to adapt to exercise. When what you are doing feels easy, that is the time to add more times per week or more minutes per session.  Add frequency and time slowly. It will keep you injury free.
 
Intensity:
One of the most misunderstood concepts of fitness is intensity. Somehow people think they either have to work so hard that they can hardly breathe, or be able to have a full-on conversations to exercise safely. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Many people use heart rate to guide their intensity. It is a good method, but can also be confusing. Subtract your age from 220, then multiply that number by .80 and .60 to give you a range. For example, if you are 40 years old, you would want to stay inside a heart rate range of 144 and 108 beats per minute (220-40=180;180x.80=144 and 180x.60=108.) Heart rate range is only an estimate and does not necessarily mean you are at the right intensity to achieve your goals. A simple way to gauge this, in addition to using appropriate heart rate guidelines, is called the “talk test.” Simply, can you say a phrase or two, but not have an easy conversation? If so, that is probably a good intensity. As it feels easier to talk, that is a sign that you can increase your intensity. 
 
Now that you know the basics of beginner cardio, it is time to get off the couch and get started. 

By Mary Miriani; BA Exercise Science; ACSM Health Fitness Specialist
Reality Fitness, Inc. Naperville, IL