DECIDE…TO…MOVE

Living in a healthy, strong body does not happen by chance, but rather by choice. This is most honestly true if the body you are living in has celebrated at least 50 birthdays. If your current body is one of the 50+ year old models, do you regularly choose to move yourself in a way which might be construed as exercise? Do you walk, jog, lift weights, bike, dance, swim, go to a gym or fitness class at least once a day? If not, how about these activities: sweeping or vacuuming floors, washing dishes by hand; cleaning windows; gardening. Do not discount your household activities, they require bodily movement and as such, may be considered purposeful exercise for your body.

Whatever activities you do to move your body for well-being, the best fitness outcome will occur when you actively, mindfully move yourself every day. If not everyday, how about every other day? If you cannot or choose not to move yourself on purpose most days of the week, then prepare yourself, and your body for some disturbing news: if you do not change what you are doing today to become more active, by this time next year you will have gained weight and lost strength!

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. John C Maxwell

Now for the good news! Every day presents you with opportunities; perhaps that is part of the problem, too many choices. Regardless, every day provides you with at least 10 minutes from which you may engage yourself physically so as to build strength, stamina and flexibility. All you have to do is make a decision to move and then…MOVE IT!

“Do something today which your body will thank you for 10 years from now.”

Here’s what I do for myself to make it easy. This might work for you too. Just move for 10 minutes! If you don’t feel better after moving about for 10 minutes, then return to your former activity and try again a few hours down the road. This is how an inactive person becomes a more active person, 10 minutes at a time.

In case you find yourself in front of the television or computer screen for more than 10 minutes today, you can move it (your body) in between your sit time with some of these Move It moves:

  1. 10 squat touchdowns
  2. 10 high knee steps
  3. 10 wall or floor pushups
  4. 10 pogo hops
  5. 10 inchworms

To stave the decline of passing years upon your body, DECIDE TODAY to make physical fitness a PRIORITY in your life. I know this sounds like work to you, but I promise you this: If you will choose activities which seem like fun to you, then moving your body more minutes each day will seem less like work and more like a gift for yourself. Just move more and NEVER GIVE UP TRYING. 

 

 

Run Shared = Fun Shared

One year ago today I posted on my blog about my second running of the Cinco de Mayo 10K/5K event in Tucson. I’m not sure why I looked at my post from last year, but after reading it I knew I wanted to write about today’s experience, my third entry of this race venue on this first day of May, 2016.

Much like 2015, the New Year 2016 found me busily occupied with family caretaking duties until late March with little time to run except 1 or 2 days a week. During the month of April I was able to return to some regular training, but I knew it would be at least another month before I could be race ready for the summer season. However, it was during this time of refreshed training when I realized that several of my personal training clients desired to improve their aerobic conditioning. Wouldn’t this be a good opportunity to challenge them to enter the Cinco de Mayo 5K event and join me in walking the course?

Well, in short order we had a team of 7 individuals willing to put their best two feet forward for a race in which they would only have 3 weeks to train. While this is not how I usually prepare my clients to train for a race event, the urgency of the looming 5K certainly provided us all with an extra dose of focus and purpose for our aerobic training in the days leading up to today.

Now imagine my delight, and theirs too, when we discovered that two of our team members placed in their age groups this morning! Had I run today’s race, I would likely have placed too, but what I discovered was something even more valuable than another personal age group achievement: A joy shared, is a joy doubled.

What I cherish most about today’s event as it relates to all the days which have passed in this crazy busy Spring of 2016, is the tiny role I had in helping these fun-ready ladies reach and exceed their goals on race day today. Cheers and high-fives to all of Team Oracle!

 

Fit for Life…Everyday Exercise 10 of 10

REVERSE DELTOID FLY! This is the tenth and last exercise in the functional fitness series. The reverse deltoid (shoulder) fly exercise targets the muscles on the posterior of the shoulders together with the muscles of the upper back. When this exercise is performed in a standing (bent over) position, the abdominal core, spine, glutes and lower back are also engaged.  A modified (seated) version of this exercise is also illustrated for those individuals who have lower back pain or weakness.

HOW TO: This exercise should  be initiated without hand weights first so as to develop the feel and posture of proper exercise form.

  • Stand with your legs about hip-width apart, arms at sides. Bend your torso forward and bend your legs slightly so that your arms extend below your body with your hands facing each other. This is the starting position.
  • IMPORTANT: First check your posture via a mirror before beginning the exercise; make sure your upper back is flat (not rounded); squeezing your shoulder blades together will help flatten your back.
  • Now, make a fist with each hand, knuckles pointing toward the floor, then, raise your arms out to your sides, while squeezing your shoulder blades together during the movement, maintain a slight bend in your elbows at the end of your upward arc, and do not raise head/chin upward.
  • Next, lower your arms (slowly) to the starting position. This completes one repetition. Perform eight to 12 repetitions (without dumbbells).
  • Once you can perform 1 to 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions while maintaining good exercise form, its time to add some light dumbbell weights to your workout. Start with dumbbells that weigh less than or equal to 5 pounds each.
  • Using the dumbbells, perform 8 to 12 repetitions. That is 1 set. Perform up to 3 sets.

 

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Bent Over Reverse Deltoid Fly

 

 

 

 

 

 

MODIFICATION: Seated Reverse Deltoid Fly

seated-rear-deltoid-fly

Seated Reverse Deltoid Fly

Sit on the edge of a armless chair or bench with legs together, torso bent over legs, upper back flat (not rounded) and arms hanging alongside the outside of your legs. Then follow the ‘How To’ steps above to perform the seated version of this exercise.

This post concludes the functional fitness exercise series. I hope you have found this information helpful in guiding you towards a better understanding of your body’s capabilities in regards to ‘functional fitness’.

If you are able to practice these 10 exercises (as often as you can manage or tolerate) it may only be a matter of weeks (or a few months) before you notice increases in your functional strength and movement patterns.

I hope that whatever improvements you realize from these exercises will be enough to encourage and motivate you to KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!  Listen to your body, honor it with gentle, disciplined, functional exercise movements and it will serve you well for many days to come.
CHEERS & HIGH FIVE!

Fit for Life…Everyday Exercise 9 of 10

WOOD CHOPS! This is the ninth of ten exercises in the functional fitness series. This exercise mainly targets the abdominal core (front, side, back) but it also requires shoulders and hips to engage and stabilize the body during the rotational movement phase. The wood chop can be performed with a dumbbell, medicine ball, cable pulley, or resistance band. This exercise has many progressions and variations and is suitable for most every fitness level.

HOW TO: Perform this exercise without a weight in your hand; practice moving through the entire range of motion un-weighted.

High to Low Wood Chop

  • Start with you feet wider than shoulder width apart, toes point slightly outward.
  • Clasp both hands together (or hold weight) elbows extended (but not locked), above and to the right side of head/body.
  • Rotate arms and torso downward towards left side of body.
    • Towards hip if standing
    • Towards knee if squatting
  • Return to start
  • Perform 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Switch sides; repeat exercise
modmedballwoodchop

Wood Chop standing

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Wood Chop squatting


Low to High Wood Chop

  • Start with you feet wider than shoulder width apart, toes point slightly outward.
  • Clasp both hands together (or hold weight) elbows extended (but not locked), to the right side of body.
    • Towards hip if standing
    • Towards knee if squatting
  • Rotate arms and torso upward towards left side of body.
  • Return to start
  • Perform 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Switch sides; repeat exercise
low to high woodchop

Low to High Wood Chop

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember: Use no weight or something which weighs less than or equal to 5 lbs. when you first begin practicing this exercise. Because of the rotational aspect of the wood chop exercise, perfecting your form first will help prevent muscle strain in your lower/upper back.

Fit for Life…Everyday Exercise 8 of 10

SINGLE LEG SHOULDER PRESS! This is the eighth of ten exercises in the functional fitness series. This exercise targets the shoulder muscles while enhancing core stability and simultaneously challenging your balance.

HOW TO: Stand on your left leg. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palms facing forward and keep your core tight and spine neutral as you raise it straight above your head. Slowly lower your right arm down so that your right elbow and forearm form a 90-degree angle (pictured below). shoulder pressRepeat the movement for 8 to 12 reps and then perform the shoulder press while holding the dumbbell in your left hand. Now balance on your right foot, holding the dumbbell in your right hand, press up for 8 to 12 repetitions; then repeat holding the dumbbell in your left hand for the same about of repetitions.

dumbbell-single-leg-shoulder-press-

Note: Choose and use a dumbbell weight which you can press up at least 8 times with one arm.

HOW TO PROGRESS: 1. Hold dumbbells in both hands, balanced on one leg, press both arms above shoulders for 8 to 12 repetitions. Switch to balance on your other leg, repeat repetitions.
2. Hold dumbbells in both hands, balanced on one let, alternatively press one arm at a time above shoulders for 8 to 12 repetitions. Switch to balance on your other leg, repeat repetitions.

Fit for Life…Everyday Exercise 7 of 10

HIP BRIDGES! This is the seventh exercise of ten in the functional fitness series. This move targets the glutes and the core (abdominals and spine) and promotes hip flexibility and strength in the hamstrings and hip adductors.

HOW TO PERFORM:

  • Lie on your back.
  • Place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, with your knees bent.
  • Contract your abs and your glutes.
  • Exhale and lift your hips off the floor until your body is a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Hold this position for a two count and lower hips back to the floor.
  • You may perform the bridge as a continuous movement, or hold the pose for extended periods of five seconds or more.
  • Remember to keep breathing normally if you hold the pose for an extended period.
hip bridge

Basic Hip Bridge

HOW TO PROGRESS: There are several variations that will challenge and activate additional muscle groups in your legs, hips and lower back. Progress to any of the following only after you can perform 1 – 2 sets of 8 to  12 repetitions of the basic hip bridge without hamstring cramping or lower back strain.

  • Single leg hip bridge. After you lift your hips off the floor, extend one leg into the air. Or start this hip lift with one leg on the floor and one leg extended. You may perform this pose as a continuous movement for a count of two, or hold the pose for five seconds or more.
single leg hip bridge

Single leg hip bridge

  • Perform a basic hip bridge with your feet above floor level (on a chair or bench) or on an unstable surface like a stability ball.

 

glute bridge on ball

Hip Bridge on Ball

Functional exercise number 8 of 10 will be posted by December 9th.

Fit for Life…Everyday Exercise 6 of 10

SINGLE LEG DEAD LIFTS! This is the sixth exercise of ten in the functional fitness series, and it is the first exercise of the series which provides balance, strength, mobility and stability training all at once for the lower body. Specifically, dead lifts will target the hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles, while engaging joints at the ankle, knee and hip.

HOW TO PERFORM:

  • Assume a single-leg stance
  • Keep the back straight and the torso tight. Look straight ahead, retract shoulder blades.
  • Prepare for movement by balancing 100% on supporting leg then,
  • Lower the upper body by bending at the hip. Keep the back straight and supporting knee soft (with a slight bend).
  • Swing the free leg back so it stays in line with the torso.
  • Simultaneously move your arms forward (away from your body) to counter balance.
  • Lower the upper body until a mild stretch is felt in the hamstrings.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Perform as many repetitions as you can (5 – 12) while maintaining good form (see picture 2 below).
  • Repeat on other leg.
single leg dead lift

Single leg dead lift

 

In the beginning, you may need to modify (reduce) your range of movement for this exercise. If you cannot balance with your swing leg fully extended behind you, then hinge only to the point where you can maintain your balance before returning to the starting position. If you’ll practice a few repetitions every day, your balance and stability will improve in short order.

TO PROGRESS: Once you are able to perform a full set of 10 – 12 repetitions in good form, you may increase your posterior strength chain by holding dumbbells (3 to 8 pounds) or a weighted bar in your hands while performing this exercise. Start with lighter weights and maintain proper form while  performing 8 to 12 repetitions on each leg.

Single-Leg-Deadlift-Kettlebell

Single leg deadlift with dumbbells

Functional exercise number 7 of 10 will be posted by December 4th.