Fitness Tip

Fitness Tips

SPRING INTO SHAPE!

Lana Pacheco, Fitness Director & Certified Personal Trainer

Regular exercise is important, and not just for getting to and/or maintaining a healthy weight. Daily activity also helps to alleviate joint pain and stiffness, improve flexibility and balance, keep body systems such as digestion working smoothly, and reduce stress. It can even make you happier and more productive.

But you don’t have to be a gym rat to gain these benefits. Any activity is better than none, and virtually anyone, at any age, and any fitness level can perform these few simple exercises. Start slow, work at your own pace, and enjoy the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise.

Walking: The physical and mental benefits of walking are both well documented. But what makes walking a truly great exercise is that it is completely adaptable to any fitness level. Burning calories requires walking at a brisk pace over an adequate distance, but even a short walk at a slow pace can produce physical and mental benefits. If you are a new user of the treadmill, make sure to have a trainer teach you how to safely use this great “walking machine.” Better yet, come to one or all of our Skillmill demos during the month of April.

Dancing: Much like walking, dancing has both physical and mental benefits. How can you not feel happy moving along to your favorite songs? Also like walking, dancing can be adapted to suit the fitness level and physical capabilities of the dancer. Again, the harder and longer you dance, the more calories you’ll burn, but a short burst of dancing at low intensity will relieve stiffness and stress. Parkpoint offers many dancing opportunities for you. Try Zumba, NIA, or African dance.

Stretching: Stretching first thing in the morning helps eliminate muscle and joint stiffness from sleep and stimulates circulation, which slows during sleep. Similarly, stretching before bed helps relax both body and mind to promote better sleep. And stretching for a few minutes every hour or two throughout the day will keep muscles from cramping. Whether it’s a few simple stretches or an entire yoga routine, stretching reduces both physical and mental stress. It will improve flexibility and balance, as well as sharpen concentration and boost your mood. At Parkpoint, we have a variety of Yoga class options and styles. Find the one for you.

Jumping: An easy way to get your heart going is to jump up and down. This might sound like a high-intensity exercise (and under normal circumstances, it is). But with a few adjustments, jumping can be a simple, effective, low-impact, and low-intensity exercise. Believe it or not, whatever your fitness level, you can make the jump to better health. Try just a few straight up and down jumps with your hands on your hips; you don’t have to jump very high. Progress to hands overhead, working up to jumping jacks a few at a time. For low impact and low intensity, simply bounce up and down on your toes. To up the intensity, try twisting side-to-side as you jump, or pulling your knees to your chest.

Leg Raises: Another simple exercise that just about anyone can do is the leg raise. Leg raises can be done sitting or standing, and you can raise your leg a little or a lot, depending on your fitness level. Leg raises can be done a variety of ways to work different muscle groups. You can lift your leg in front of you to stretch calf and hamstring muscles, behind you to stretch quads and glutes, or out to the side to work inner and outer thighs. Standing leg raises have the added advantage of testing balance. Increase the intensity of this exercise by pulsing the raised leg.

Arm Raises/Circles: Like leg raises, arm raises can be done by virtually anyone, anywhere—sitting, standing, or lying down. For a little greater intensity, you can add small hand weights. As with leg raises, you can also pulse the arm in the raised position to make the muscles work a little harder. A variation of the arm raise is the arm circle. Holding your arms out to the side at shoulder height, rotate your shoulders forward and then backward. If you can, do both smaller, tighter circles, and larger, wider circles, and vary the pace of rotation. For an easier variation, simply roll your shoulders forward and backward.