July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
September 3, 2010 § Leave a comment
10-Minute Fat Blaster
Burn calories before you jump in the shower with this bodyweight circuit from Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S.
Perform this circuit without rest between exercises. Then rest 1 minute and repeat the circuit. Do as many circuits as you can in 10 minutes. Click here for a video demonstration of the workout.
Start with your feet hip-width apart and hands at your sides. Simultaneously raise your arms above your head and jump so you can spread your feet shoulder-width apart. Then jump again to lower your arms and bring your feet together. Do 20 reps.
Stand with your hands behind your head, your chest out and your elbows back. Sit back at your hips and bend your knees to lower your body as far as possible without losing the natural arch of your spine. Squeeze your glutes and push yourself back up to the starting position. Do 12 reps.
Assume the classic pushup position: legs straight, hands beneath your shoulders. Now brace your abs. Keeping your body rigid, lower yourself until your chest touches the floor. Then push back up until your arms are extended. Do 15 reps.
From a standing position, take a large step forward with one leg. When your front thigh is parallel to the floor and your back knee is off the floor, hold for 1 second. Then return to the starting position and repeat with your other leg. Do 12 reps with each leg. (Make it harder by holding the lowered position for 5 seconds.)
Stand with your back to the wall and feet about 4 inches from the wall. Place the back of your arms against the wall, with upper arms parallel to floor and forearms at 90 degrees. Raise your arms overhead while keeping them against the wall at all times. Slowly return to below the starting position, tucking your elbows into your sides and bringing shoulder blades together. Do 10 reps.
August 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
Exercise is one of the keys to happiness. Research shows that people who exercise are healthier, more energetic, think more clearly, sleep better, and have delayed onset of dementia. They get relief from anxiety and mild depression, comparable to medication and therapy. They perform better at work.
Also, although it’s tempting to flop down on the couch when you’re feeling exhausted, exercise is actually a great way to boost energy levels. Feeling tired is a reason to exercise, not a reason to skip exercise.
But even when you admit that you’d feel better if you exercised, it can be very hard to adopt the habit. My idea of fun has always been to lie in bed and read, preferably while also eating a snack, but I’ve managed to keep myself exercising by using all these tricks on myself:
1. Always exercise on Monday. This sets the psychological pattern for the week. Along the same lines …
2. If at all possible, exercise first thing in the morning. As the day wears on, you’ll find more excuses to skip exercising. Get it checked off your list, first thing.
3. Never skip exercising two days in a row. You can skip a day, but the next day, you must exercise, no matter how inconvenient.
4. Give yourself credit for the smallest effort. My father always said that all he had to do was put on his running shoes and close the door behind him. Many times, by promising myself I could quit ten minutes after I’d started, I got myself to start—and then found that I didn’t want to quit, after all.
5. Think about context. I thought I disliked weight training, but in fact, I dislike the guys who hang out in the weight-training area. Are you distressed about the grubby showers in your gym? Do you try to run in the mornings, but recoil from going out in the cold? Examine the factors that might be discouraging you from exercising.
6. Exercise several times a week. If your idea of exercise is to join games of pick-up basketball, you should be playing practically every day. Twice a month isn’t enough.
7. If you don’t have time to both exercise and take a shower, find a way to exercise that doesn’t require you to shower afterward. Twice a week, I have a very challenging weight-training session, but the format I follow doesn’t make me sweat. (Some of you are saying, “It can’t be challenging if you don’t sweat!” Oh yes, believe me, it is.)
8. Look for affordable ways to make exercising more pleasant or satisfying. Could you upgrade to a nicer or more convenient gym? Buy yourself a new iPod? Work with a trainer? Get a pedometer to keep track of your walking distances? Exercise is a high life priority, so this a worthwhile place to spend some money if that helps.
9. Think of exercise as part of your essential preparation for times you want to be in especially fine form—whether in performance (to be sharp for an important presentation) or appearance (to look good for a wedding) or mood (to deal with a stressful situation). Studies show that exercise does help.
10. Remember one of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood, courtesy of Voltaire: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t decide it’s only worth exercising if you can run five miles or if you can bike for an hour. I have a friend who scorns exercise unless she’s training for a marathon—so she never exercises. Even going for a ten-minute walk is worthwhile. Do what you can.
11. Don’t kid yourself. Belonging to a gym doesn’t mean you go to the gym. Having been in shape in high school or college doesn’t mean you’re in shape now. Saying that you don’t have time to exercise doesn’t make it true.
People often ask me, “So if I want to be happier, what should I be doing?” and I always say, “The first thing to do is to make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and plenty of exercise.”
I know that answer doesn’t sound properly transcendent and high-minded on the subject of happiness, but research shows that you’d be wise to start there. And I’ve found that if I’m feeling energetic and well rested, it’s much easier to follow all my other happiness-inducing resolutions.