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Exercising at home. The new (temporary) normal

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life

The “new normal” right now is exercising at home.  If you are not set up to do that,  here are some tips for staying healthy and well as you create your home exercise program. Start with these three simple rules:

  1. Any time you do something new, start small.  Your body gets used to exactly what you give it.  Anything new is likely to produce muscle soreness.  However there is no such thing as a ‘good sore’.  Muscle soreness does not mean you are getting more benefits or burning more calories, it just means you did too much too soon.  Start with half a video or a lighter version of an exercise.  See how you feel the next day and then gradually progress
  2. Discover something new. Despite all the problems this outbreak is causing, it is also presenting many new opportunities.  While easing into something new, enjoy the novelty of moving in different ways. You never know what you might discover.  Keep your mind set on the opportunities this is presenting to help you stay positive and optimistic and well.
  3. Some thing is better than nothing.  The most effective thing you can do for your health and well being right now, besides washing your hands and social distancing, is to keep moving in a way that keeps your immune system strong and your stress low.   This is no time for perfection, it’s time to keep moving and be well!

Here are some links to online exercise programs I often recommend.  

Dance fun for anyone:

Body Groove is an online program that is a fun way to exercise alone or with a group. there is a fee but check out some of the free samples to see if it is a fit for you.

Richard Simmons is a blast from the past for many of us.  His videos are online and worth checking out if for no other reason than to see the fashions!

Put on music and dance.  Its that simple.  A daily dance part with your family or with friends through video chat is a great way to reduce stress and connect while doing some great cardiovascular exercise.

Leslie Sansone Videos  are simple and  FREE.   They can also be done while seated in a chair if standing is painful.

 

If you are limited by pain, seated aerobics is often a great option

Chair aerobics for Everyone DVD

Paul Eugene seated aerobics – FREE

Fuzion Fitness seated aerobics – FREE

 

Chair yoga

Do Yoga With Me has some free videos for all kinds of yoga including chair yoga. 

Amber Karnes for Body Positive yoga for chair yoga: Some FREE some for a fee

Yoga with Adriene  chair yoga session – FREE

Happy yoga has several chair yoga sessions – FREE

 

Exercise with your kids

Cosmic Yoga – FREE

Yoga for Kids – FREE

 

I will continue to post links to ideas for home exercise.  Feel free to share yours in the comments section. Keep Moving.  We will get through this together!

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

 

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by | March 25, 2020 · 4:29 pm

Keep moving. Especially now!

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (16)For each and every one of us, life is more stressful right now.  Our daily routines have shifted.  Nearly every aspect of our life is Affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is why we need to Keep Moving. Especially now:

  • Stress puts your body in a state where healing, repair and protection from illness are down regulated as it prepares to handle the ‘threat’.
  • Stress makes thinking clearly and creatively more challenging.
  • All that happens in your body during this stress response is preparing your body to move, to fight or flee the problem.
  • If you are moving less, and stressing more, your body has a lower defense against illness and your ability to creatively deal with the multitude of problems this situation presents is lowered.
  • Movement, that is stress reducing, is your best way to put your body back in a healing and protective state.

How to use movement and exercise to help you stay mentally and physically well right now:

  • For everyone:
    • This is not the time to greatly increase and challenge your body.    Doing too much too soon is stressful for your body and lowers its defenses.
    • This is also not the time to give up on exercise.  Adjust what you are doing so your body can help keep you well
    • This is a great time to start moving regularly if you don’t already.
    • Use exercise and movement to reduce stress.  That is most important right now.
  • If you regularly exercise
    • keep in mind that something is better than nothing.  Even shorter, less intense bouts of exercise can do wonders for you physically and mentally.
    • This is a great time to discover something new.  The internet is full of exercise programs.
    • Start slow and progress gradually with any new form of exercise so it is not stressful for your body
  • If you do not exercise regularly,
    • take small movement breaks for as long as feels good for your body to avoid prolonged stillness
    • at a light to moderate intensity for your breathing and muscles
    • repeat several times a day avoiding more than 30-60 minutes of stillness
    • move in ways that calm your mind, make you smile, and feel good for your body
    • Walk, dance, stretch, anything that feels good mentally and physically

I will continue to post information on this site about how to keep moving and be well during this pandemic.  Post your questions and comments below and let’s keep reminding each other to Keep Moving. Especially now.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

 

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by | March 18, 2020 · 2:45 pm

Strengthen your immune system; the role of stress and exercise

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (15)

There is a lot of talk lately about how to protect yourself from germs.  Certainly washing your hands and staying away from people who are sick is at the top of the list.    The irony however is that all this talk about preventing illness is causing a lot of stress and anxiety, putting the body in a state that is lowering defenses against the illnesses we are concerned about. Exercise, when used correctly, is the antidote to the stress response. It puts your body back in a state where it can defend against illnesses.  

When you are in a stress response, your body makes changes to protect you from immediate danger. It down-regulates the not so urgent work, such as digestion, repair and healing, and puts energy into getting ready to take care of the ‘threat’.  The way we are hardwired to defend against stress is to move, in order to fight or flee the problem.  All the things that happen in your body when you are stressed is to prepare you to move so you can fight or run away from the ‘threat’.  Basically, when you are stressed your body puts less effort into defending against illness and more effort into preparing to move.  Do you see the problem with this stress response in our modern day life?

Because most of our stressors are not helped by fighting or fleeing, and we have many constant underlying stressors, we can be in a chronic state of ‘ready to move’, rather than ready to defend against illness. We only add to that when it is stressful to get enough exercise, or we make exercise more stressful than it needs to be.  

Several studies show that you only need to do moderate intensity exercise, five days a week for about 20 minutes to enjoy a 40% reduction in upper respiratory infections. (This is even after they adjusted for factors such as age, marital status, gender, body mass index (BMI), and perceived mental stress.)

To use exercise correctly in order to help your immune system stay strong:

  • Listen to your body.  Do the amount, type and intensity that is just right for your body. When exercise is exhaustive, it can actually lower immune system function.   If exercise makes you feel better mentally and physically, (and not just because it is ‘over with’) you know you have found the right level.
  • Be consistent.  Something done regularly is much better than a large amount of exercise done once in a while. That’s because the way exercise strengthens your immune system lasts for about a day and improves as fitness levels improve.
  • Make it stress reducing.  You would not go for a pedicure or out for an expensive dinner with the mindset you just need to ‘get through it’, would you? Treat your exercise time like you would any other self-care activity.  When you set it up to be a treat, and your stress level is most likely to dissolve as you restore a relaxed state where your immune system can do its job.

Regular exercise is an important strategy for each of us, especially now. How you exercise makes all the difference in how well it reduces stress so your immune system can help you stay healthy and well.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | March 10, 2020 · 6:59 pm

Ready? Set? Spring!

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (14)

This weekend, we turn the clocks ahead, which means more daylight at the end of the day.  This is awesome news for those of you who (like me) crave outdoor time and feel more energy to move when the days are longer.

Before we jump into Spring, there is an important question that will make next Winter easier to manage.

What was your biggest takeaway from your exercise routine this past Winter? 

It does not matter if you exercised or not, there is still some great information to be gained by asking this question right now when it is fresh in your mind.

Take a moment right now to write down what worked well and what you want to do differently next Winter.  Tuck it away in your calendar for October 2020.   When the days get shorter, I will remind you to pull out that list and we will make a plan for your Spring Training 2021.

If your Spring Training did not go as planned this past Winter, forgive yourself, learn from what happened, and then give your body time to adapt before jumping into all the Springtime activities.

If your Spring Training went well this past Winter, get out there and enjoy the benefits of your dedication this past Winter.

Either way, keep learning about how to keep moving all year long.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

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by | March 4, 2020 · 4:59 pm

How can I exercise to lose weight when moving is painful?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (11)Many people want to lose weight because their body is in pain and are hoping weight loss will help. They know eating right and exercising are keys to weight loss, but when movement is painful, it seems even more overwhelming to lose weight.    If this catch 22 sounds familiar, let’s take a closer look to find how you can exercise  even when you are dealing with pain issues.  Ironically, it is not about pushing through pain to get to your goal weight. Here is why:

  1. Pain is complex and involves signals from the brain. The level of pain does not equal the level of injury, or any injury at all.   Evidence of this came from the fact that people who had a limb amputated still had pain in that part of their body. Its called Phantom Pain and inspired neurosciences to investigate the source of pain symptoms.
  2. Usually, pain is a signal from your body to your brain to tell you there is something wrong and it needs your attention. However, acute (initial) pain and chronic (long term) pain are different and need to be treated differently.
  3. The term “good sore” does not make any sense.   There is absolutely no evidence that muscles need soreness to get stronger, nor that when you are sore you are burning more calories, fat or making more progress.  Muscle soreness is only a sign of doing too much too soon.

The first thing to remember about pain is that it creates a ‘negative habit loop’ for your brain about exercise.  That means, if exercise leads to pain, it is much more likely your brain will start making excuses why you cannot exercise.  Pushing your body to do more than it is ready to do, only gets you more stuck.

The irony here is that when you learn to listen to your body and work with it, you end up exercising in a way your body and your brain can do long term.  That consistency with exercise that leaves you feeling better in your body, rather than worse, and is the way exercise will help you with weight loss and health.

The details of how to do that depends on many factors including where you have pain, how long you have had it for and the cause of the pain.

If it is arthritis pain, you need to find the sweet spot of moving often enough so your joints don’t stiffen up from lack of movement, but not doing so much that it increases inflammation and causes more pain.

If it is an autoimmune illness like fibromyalgia, starting at a much lower level that what you think you should do, and using a slower progression is the way to work with your body.  Also knowing different types of exercise you can do for different stages of the illness.  For example, stretching during a flare up so you maintain mobility and help lower inflammation.

If it is back pain, knowing how your core is designed to function is essential for moving in a way that reduces your pain.

The specifics here are beyond the scope of this blog, but the overarching message is to listen to your body by using mindfulness; presence with kindness.  Starting with that mindset, you will be more willing to listen to your body and give it what it needs to help calm the pain signals.

Living with pain is not easy, to put it mildly.  Thankfully there is so much great new information from scientific research that has given us a better understanding about pain.  The more you understand your body, and the more self compassion you can have for the situation you are in right now,  the better you will be able to move away from pain and toward more comfort and function in your body.   For all of you in this situation, please know exercising without pain is possible.  I have seen it happen over and over again. Stay curious, mindful and most importantly be kind to yourself.  

Keep moving, be well

Janet

 

 

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by | February 26, 2020 · 4:58 pm

Spring Training Check In: What direction are you heading?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (10)

In November, we started Spring Training.  Staying active and consistently exercising through the winter is challenging.  It becomes more motivating when you realize you are doing it for a purpose, like to enjoy the activities you like to do on that first beautiful Spring day.

With are only five weeks until the first official day of Spring, it’s time to check in. Which direction are you heading in?  Are you on the path to a Spring that starts with soreness and limitations or are you on the path to a Spring that allows you to do the activities you need and want to do with ease?

If your motivation has taken you off the path to an easy and enjoyable time in Spring, lets renew your energy for Spring Training.

Close your eyes and fast forward to the first beautiful day in Spring.  Ask yourself the following:

  • What do I want to be able to do in Spring?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What do I need to do that activity – more strength, stamina,  mobility?
  • What is one thing I can do starting today that will tell my body to build more of that over the next five weeks?

The great news is, exercise does not need to take a lot of time, it only needs to be done consistently and your body will adapt.  Starting your day with one set of an exercise that you know will improve your strength.  Taking five to ten minutes before dinner to dance or walk.   Before going to bed each night doing that one stretch that you know feels so good.  These are so small you might think they are not worth it, but think again.  It’s the natural laws of nature that they will work.   Just like snow is designed to melt at a certain temperature, your body is designed to adapt to what you give it.   Let it know you  are in Spring Training and it will keep you on a path to a more enjoyable season ahead.

Keep Moving, Be Well, Think Spring!

Janet

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by | February 11, 2020 · 8:58 pm

How can exercise keep your immune system strong?

How to get enough exercise in the busy seasons of your life (9)

Cold and flu season are in full swing. With news stories of worldwide of flu rates, you are probably trying to do the extras to stay healthy this season.   Here is how exercise can help keep your immune system strong.

How does exercise help your immune system protect you from illness?

Some of these theories according to Medline Plus are:

  • Exercise may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
  • Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or WBCs circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. However, no one knows whether these changes help prevent infections.
  • The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. (This is similar to what happens when you have a fever.)
  • Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.

How much is enough exercise to help keep your immune system strong? 

This study found that just twenty minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise was enough to have significant improvements in immune system function by having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Some studies show that exercising over an hour or exercising to exhaustion can actually lower the immune systems ability to fight off those germs you are encountering every day.  Moderate intensity is the amount that feels comfortable, not uncomfortable,  for your breathing.

How does exercise help you recover well from illness?

Even if you do end up with a cold or flu, exercise is an important part of ensuring your body gets back to its usual functioning level as soon as possible.  When you are recovering from an illness, bed rest is needed.  During bed rest your body can lose up to 12% of its strength per week. Your connective tissue, bone and cardiovascular system all lose function during that time too.  Getting back to a regular exercise routine helps you regain what you have lost so your body can make a full recovery and your immune system can bounce back quicker.  When you restart exercise, start at less than 50% of what you were doing before you got sick.    Most importantly, listen to your body!  If it increases fatigue, cut it back even more.   If it gives you energy and makes you feel better you know you found the right ‘starting dose’ of exercise to help your recover.  Increase by about 10% per week, and continue to listen to your body. 

Bottom Line:  A simple lunchtime walk or family dance party before dinner could be all you need to use exercise as part of the ways you stay well this season.  Exercise does not need to be complicated or fatiguing, just consistent so those everyday germs don’t stand a chance in your healthy and well body.

Keep moving, Be well!

Janet

 

 

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by | February 5, 2020 · 7:31 pm