Category Archives: Exercise

Healthy Halloween: Pumpkin Workout

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Try out this healthy Halloween Pumpkin workout! Depending on your fitness level, complete 10-20 repetitions of each exercise and 1-3 sets of each.

1 | Oblique Taps

Rotate the pumpkin from side to site, gently tapping the pumpkin on the ground on each side.

obliques

2 | Squats

Hold the pumpkin at chest height and perform a squat.

squats

3 | Uneven pushups

Place one hand on the pumpkin and the other on the ground. Do half your sets on one side and then switch.

pushups

 

4 | Lunge and Twist

Hold the pumpkin at chest height, step forward to perform a lunge and rotate your upper body and pumpkin to the opposite side as the leg you stepped forward with. Step back so your feet are together and switch sides.

lunge

 

5 | Rainbow Press

Hold the pumpkin at shoulder height on one side and then press it up and over your head and bring back down to shoulder height on the other side.

press

 

6 | Biceps Hold

With your arms bent at a 90 degree angle and your palms facing up and holding the pumpkin out in front of you, hold the pumpkin steady for 20-30 seconds for each set.

biceps

 

7 | Single Leg Deadlift

Standing on one leg, let the weight of the pumpkin pull you down as your other leg rises behind you until your raised leg is in line with your flat back.

hamstrings

 

8 | Sit-ups

Hold the pumpkin on your chest and perform a sit-up using the pumpkin as resistance.

situps

 

September is National Yoga Month!

Those who have practiced yoga, whether as beginners or as novice yogis can attest to the abundant benefits they’ve gained from this ancient form of enlightenment and mental and physical achievement. Positively impacting the mind, engaging a deeper sense of meaning on the soul, and strengthening the entire physical body, yoga continues to be a practice for the ages. It is a mere piece of healthy living that ALL can enjoy and embrace—regardless of age, size, or any seeming infringement on the body or mind. Regardless of your personal physical, mental and health status, you too can benefit from this practice.

New to yoga?  It’s okay—everyone starts somewhere and you are no exception!  It’s not about keeping up with seasoned yogis or being able to hold an awkward pose longer or more gracefully than those around you. It’s about allowing yourself the time to learn how to breathe, how to improve your sense of self, how embrace your physical abilities, and to accept the abundant joy that often accompanies even the simplest of yogic practice.

*REMEMBER: yoga can be practiced in a multitude of positions. Start in a comfortable chair or even in a position where you are lying down comfortably on your bed or on a soft blanket. If available to you, use props to assist you with new positions and for balance. There are no set guidelines in yoga. It’s merely about focusing on a gradual progression of your breath, becoming more mindful, and engaging in gentle movements (where recommended) until you feel inclined to face the challenge of standing poses and advanced techniques.

Not sure which form of yoga is right for you? Research in advance and try a few on for size!  Remember that if you are new to yoga to begin with level 1 or beginner’s classes to avoid over-straining your body. Here are a few forms of yoga you might have available in your community.

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Hatha

A gentle form of yoga that focuses on performing basic poses while placing an emphasis on improved breathing.

Ideal for: Beginners, injuries, limited mobility, senior citizens, infants/adolescents, pregnant women

Ashtanga

A non-stop session of yoga that uses special breathing techniques that help you to focus on the flow of oxygen through the body while improving the focus of the mind.

Ideal for: someone who has tried yoga before, someone who would like to deepen his/her yoga practice, athletes, those who want to deepen the mind-body connection.

Iyengar

A gentle form of yoga that focuses on each detail of movement and breath. This practice generally involves props, such as straps, blocks, and bolsters to assist with achieving correct alignment.

Ideal for: those who like to achieve a deepness during their practice and are attempting to improve posture and physical alignment.

Bikram

A challenging sequence of 26 yoga poses that are performed in a heated room (generally above 100°F

Ideal for: those are have been practicing yoga and want a challenge. Those who want to detoxify and improve circulation, or strengthen their physical strength.

Kripalu

A gentle form of yoga that includes a series of slow movements that gradual progress through three levels to deepen the mind-body connection.

Ideal for: newbies to yoga, children, senior citizens, those who have injuries that won’t be exacerbated by the movements, those who want to deepen their practice and improve mental wellbeing.

Kundalini

Similar to Kripalu, though enforces more of an enlightened and spiritual awareness. This form of yoga includes meditation, chanting, and various breathing techniques to enforce this spiritual practice.

Ideal for: those who seek a higher enlightenment or would like to venture into meditation practices, all ages and physical abilities, beginners to yoga practices.

Feeling adventurous?? Try one of the many unique types of yoga that is available. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Paddleboard Yoga
  2. Doga (yes, man’s best friend can join in on this too!)
  3. Acroyoga/Aerial Yoga
  4. Equine Yoga
  5. Tantrum Yoga
  6. Karaoke Yoga
  7. Mommy & Me Yoga

Find a local event—many yoga events are affordable or even free, especially during the month of September! Oftentimes because the weather hasn’t yet cooled beyond a brisk autumn breeze, it’s the perfect time to get outdoors and spend time on the mat. Look for local yoga festivals, community events, and nature-based classes in your area—if you look hard enough, you’ll see that there’s a lot out there!

Give yourself a chance!  Many assume they are either ‘made for yoga’ or not. Be patient with yourself and know that we are all different in how yoga impacts us. As a long-term yogi (over 20 years now!), I know my limitations and have accepted them. You may find that the thought of touching your toes is just out of your abilities. Maybe you feel dizzy or nauseous anytime you try a pose that places you upside down. These feelings are OK and absolutely acceptable, so be patient and find the ability to love whatever benefits and limitations you feel from your yoga practice. And, above all else—Practice, Practice, Practice!

Outdoor Workout: Park Bench Circuit

Try this quick and easy workout that is perfect to do while watching your kids play at the park, as a warm-up or cool-down to your daily outdoor run or just whenever you pass a park bench. All you need is a sturdy bench or chair. Complete 10-20 repetitions of each exercise and cycle through 1-3 sets of each exercise depending on your fitness level.

 

1 | Bench Hops or Step-ups

Facing the bench, jump from the ground to the seat of the bench, landing with both feet on the bench at the same time and then jump back down to the ground.

bench hops
Modification: For lower impact, simply step up from the ground to the seat of the bench until you are standing with both feet on the bench seat. Then step back down to the ground one foot at a time.

2 | Mountain Climbers

Facing the bench, place your hands on the seat of the bench with arms straight, shoulder width apart and feet on the ground so your body is straight but slanting down. Then, quickly alternate tucking one knee to your chest in an exaggerated running motion like you are running up a mountain.

Modification: Rather than running in motion, bring one knee up to your chest at a time, hold it there for 3 seconds and then return it to the ground and repeat with the opposite leg.
Modification: Rather than running in motion, bring one knee up to your chest at a time, hold it there for 3 seconds and then return it to the ground and repeat with the opposite leg.

 

3 | Tricep Dips

Facing away from the bench, place your hands on the edge of the bench seat behind you to support your body weight (your bottom will not rest on the seat for this exercise). Extend your legs out in front of you with your heels are on the ground. Bend your arms to a 90 degree angle so your bottom dips below the bench and then push back up.

Modification: Bend your legs for an easier alternative. The closer to 90 degrees that you bend your legs the easier the exercise will become.
Modification: Bend your legs for an easier alternative. The closer to 90 degrees that you bend your legs the easier the exercise will become.

 

4 | Pushups

Place your hands on the seat of the bench with straight arms positioned slightly wider than your shoulders and feet on the ground and angle your body so it is straight. Bend arms until they reach 90 degrees and then push back up. Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the entire motion.

Modification: Use the back rest of the bench as a higher support for an easier pushup. For a more difficult pushup try a decline pushup by placing your feet on the bench seat and your hands on the ground.
Modification: Use the back rest of the bench as a higher support for an easier pushup. For a more difficult pushup try a decline pushup by placing your feet on the bench seat and your hands on the ground.

 

5 | Lunges

Standing about three feet in front of the bench and facing away, place the toes of your left foot on the seat of the bench behind you so there is a slight bend in your left leg. Make sure your right leg is approximately one foot in front of your body and bend your right leg until it reaches a 90 degree angle then stand back up. Do all reps with one leg before you switch.

Modification: Ditch the bench and perform your lunge on the ground. Hold onto the bench for more stability.
Modification: Ditch the bench and perform your lunge on the ground. Hold onto the bench for more stability.

 

6 | Squats

Standing about one foot in front of the bench and facing away from it, position your legs approximately shoulder width apart and bend both legs simultaneously like you are going to sit down on the bench. Let your bottom just slightly touch the bench before you stand back up. The bench serves the purpose as a guide for how far to squat down.

Modification: You may sit down on the bench between each rep if needed. If you want to make these more difficult, try doing one legged squats with the other leg pointed out in front of you.
Modification: You may sit down on the bench between each rep if needed. If you want to make these more difficult, try doing one legged squats with the other leg pointed out in front of you.

 

7 | Leg Raises

Lay down on the bench long ways with your bottom just at the edge and your legs hanging off the side. Raise your legs so they are in line with your body. Lift your legs together approximately one foot and then lower them back down to level with your body.

a.Modification: To make it easier, sit with your bottom in the middle of the bench so your legs have some support from the bench as well. Use the bench as a light rest for your legs in between each rep. I this is still too difficult, try lifting one leg at a time.
a. Modification: To make it easier, sit with your bottom in the middle of the bench so your legs have some support from the bench as well. Use the bench as a light rest for your legs in between each rep. I this is still too difficult, try lifting one leg at a time.

 

8 | Seated Crunches

Lay extended long ways on the bench. Performing a crunch motion, pull your legs into your chest, then return to starting, extended position.

crunch
Modification: Let your legs rest on the bench and perform the exercise with just your upper body, lowering your back until a few inches before it reaches the bench.

Three Quick Morning Workouts

Most people wake up in the morning dreading the heavy workload they may have. Whether it’s getting the kids out the door for school, a big deadline that’s due, or the everyday tasks that cause us stress, we tend to wake up stressed. That can all change when you wake up and start your day with a quick workout. These mini workouts will get your blood flowing to help wake you up, feel more energized throughout the day and make you feel like you’ve already accomplished something before the day even begins.

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15, 15, 15

Perform three sets of 15 of each of the following three exercises: air squats, push-ups and sit ups. Each of these exercises works a large muscle group and gives you a full body workout. Make sure to focus on your form and perform each exercise and repetition correctly. It’s better to perform the exercises the right way instead of fast and risk causing an injury.

Jog or Walk Around the Block

Nothing wakes your senses up better than getting outside. Pick a path that’s conveniently located around your home and just walk or run for 10 minutes. You will get vitamin D from being outside and also get to unplug and enjoy the outdoors before being locked down to technology all day. Unplugging for an hour a day helps you to focus more and helps you to appreciate the finer things in life such as the beauty of nature. Aim for a mile and you’ll have a good start towards reaching your 10,000 steps a day goal.

Bike to Work

Change up your routine every once in a while and try biking to work. Getting out of traffic can relieve stress and biking is a great cardiovascular workout. Plan accordingly when biking into work. Make sure you wear the right clothing and map out your route. Plan to leave your work clothes and lunch at the office the day before so you have fewer things to carry on your ride. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water too!

5 Ways to Get Involved in Parks & Recreation Month

July is heating up and now is the time for enjoying all that summer has to offer!  July is also National Park and Recreation Month and is a great time to show appreciation for all the many benefits our parks have to offer. Whether at a city, state, or national level, parks play a vital role in the health of any community. Not only can they be the perfect backdrop for beautiful scenery and for providing ample green space, they are great for managing stress, preventing crime, and for providing a safe haven for wildlife. Looking for some ideas of how to enjoy your local parks this month?

Power-Of-Parks-Infographic

Tip #1: Find an All-Inclusive Park

Looking for some scenic trails? Or maybe just some peace and quiet is on your agenda. Maybe you’d like to enjoy some paddle boating or cycling. Whatever you have in mind, seek out a park that offers a variety of activities for the whole family. Many parks offer a large open space that’s great for Frisbee throwing or running about with your favorite furry friend. If playing sports is on your list, look for a park that has a number of sports fields available so that kicking a soccer ball or running in for that touchdown is that much more fun! Finding a park with a BBQ grill is not always easy, but can be such a great way to entertain everyone.  Opting for a park with so much to offer ensures all of your family and friends will have plenty to do—leaving you with plenty of smiles and wonderful memories.

Tip #2:  Plan Ahead

Whether you opt for a quaint local destination or plan to stay for the weekend at a National Park, plan ahead. Many parks require a fee for using their facilities and require you schedule an appointment in advance. And if you plan to be gone for an extended period of time, make sure to include plenty of healthy snacks and beverages. Try:

  • Water
  • Iced tea
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cut veggies
  • Turkey or chicken wraps
  • Casseroles

Tip #3: Wait for Free Days

Many parks, particularly state and national parks will offer free park admission days. Check with your local park’s service to learn more about which days will get you in for a deal. These listings can generally be found on the park’s website. If you’d prefer to call and learn of these days, you can generally reach a representative who can assist you.

To learn more about the parks in your area, visit the National Recreation and Park Association website at www.nrpa.org

Tip #4: Look for Special Events and Festivals

It seems as though there are always activities happening at local parks. Look online for local festivities and mark your calendar so you can be reminded of these events. Some things to consider are cultural fairs, food festivals (opt for the healthier choices, of course!), children-specific events, family picnics, movies or music in the parks, sporting events, and more! Sometimes there is a fee associated with these, however, many are free. This can be an easy way to entertain your family or spend time with your friends, so be daring and try something new!

Tip #5: Get Active!

Regardless of what you choose to do at the park, just know the possibilities are endless. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind the next time you are planning for your park getaway:

  • Go mountain biking
  • Enjoy an easy (or difficult) hike
  • Try kayaking
  • Rent a paddleboard
  • Camp (or try “Glamping” if you’d prefer a little bit more luxury in your outdoor experience)
  • Go birdwatching
  • Visit a historic site
  • Try rafting, canoeing, or tubing for some water fun!
  • Visit an adventure park or obstacle course
  • Go fishing
  • Join a sports team
  • Play on the playground (even if you’re only a kid at heart)
  • Get together some friends for outdoor yoga
  • Walk, run, skate, or ride the trails

According to a recent study by the National Park and Recreation Association, approximately 1,000 American adults were surveyed about their favorite outdoor summertime activities. The top 5 faves were:

  1. Having a picnic/barbeque (55%)
  2. Going for a walk/hike (49%)
  3. Going to the beach (40%)
  4. Exploring nature (36%)
  5. Attending festivals (30%)

What’s your favorite outdoor summertime activity?

 

Source: http://www.nrpa.org/blog/how-americans-will-spend-their-time-outside-this-summer/