With summer fast approaching, and vaccinations available it’s a great time to tackle those extra lbs.
Here are some simple ways to start getting back into the swing of things.
If it seems overwhelming at first, take a step back! Start by picking one activity and do your best to stick with it for a few weeks. Once you’re feeling committed, slowly add more to your new routine, and before you know it your body and mind will thank you for the incremental adjustments.
1. Take a walk
Even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day, take a stroll around the neighborhood. Walking is a great way to clear your head and wave at your neighbors while burning calories. Dog owners! Now that the weather is getting nicer, extend your daily walks. Most dogs, especially young ones, will benefit from both the exercise and bonding time. Have kids? Bring them along, too! If they’re younger, take advantage of their slower pace to turn it into a fun outdoor learning experience by pointing out different flowers and plants. For older ones, it’s a good excuse to get them off their mobile devices.
2. Walk-jog intervals
If you want to kick it up a notch (and your knees allow for it) try a little interval training. Start with just 30 seconds of a jog, then walk for 3 minutes, or longer if you need to catch your breath. Then repeat. Try this 5 times to start, for a total of a 17.5-minute exercise. As you get used to the process, you can increase the jog time and decrease the walk time. It’s a great way to elevate your heart rate without pushing too hard and bringing your heart rate back to normal in between.
Level up your intervals by adding light ankle weights, like the Gaiam Restore Ankle Weights from Bartell’s.
3. Mini-work out!
This can be a great addition to the start of your walk to get your blood pumping, or as a bite-sized exercise routine if you’re running short on time. Start by laying on the ground and doing some regular crunches, then diagonal crunches to each side. Flip over and do a set of pushups from your knees. (Or full pushups if you have the strength!) Stand and do a set of squats. Back to laying on your back, add in a set of either bicycle crunches or flutter kicks. Lastly, add in either another set of pushups, or try the kind with a chair with your hands firmly gripping the sides of the seat and your knees bent perpendicular to the floor, and slowly lower yourself and push back up. Start with as few reps as necessary to get going. Over time, increase the amount of reps in each set and congratulate yourself on the progress!
Yoga is an amazing way to increase muscle and joint flexibility, improve balance, and release stress. There are so many different types of yoga out there and so many programs you can do from home. Bartell’s has a lot of great yoga accessories, from yoga mats, yoga socks, yoga mat towel, and knee pads.
5. Add in some light weight-training
Using light weights is an easy way to increase your strength while decreasing the risk of putting too much pressure and stress on your joints. Start with something small, even a 3lb weight. Begin with small sets, like 10 bicep curls, 10 lifts from your shoulder to over your head, and 10 lifts perpendicular to your shoulders while you lay on the ground. You can even use weights to add a layer of difficulty to things like squats and lunges. Bartell’s carries weights in 3lb, 5lb, and 8lb.
6. Find a virtual or in person dance class
With COVID restrictions relaxing a bit more as time goes on, plenty of gyms and dance studios are allowing in-person attendance. Try something you’ve always wanted to try but just never seemed to get to. Did 5-year-old you dream of being a ballerina? Have you always wanted to learn how to salsa? There are so many beginner adult dance classes out there! Or, if you’re feeling a bit intimidated, there are tons of virtual options. Even if you don’t want to pay for a class, look up dance routines on YouTube! There are countless videos to get you moving anywhere from 1 song to 1 hour.
7. Play outside with your kids!
Take advantage of their youthful energy and spend some extra play time with the kiddos. Younger kids love extra play time with mom and/or dad. If they’re older, it might take a little motivation, but they’ll more than likely secretly be having fun (even if they never admit it). You can find footballs, soccer balls, and basketballs from Baden Sports at your local Bartell’s. Here are just a handful of other ideas: Badminton, tennis, whiffle ball, ping pong, hopscotch, tether ball, jump rope, or even just regular old tag. (You’re it!)
8. Eliminate just 1 sugary drink from your day
Whether soda, fruit juice, or any number of other flavored drinks out there, there is a ton of sugar in our lives these days. Did you know the average person in America consumes 152 pounds of sugar in a year? Yes, you read that right – pounds! Now, we’re not saying to cut out sugar cold turkey (you still have to enjoy life!) but take a look at what you consume in a day and try to swap out that morning juice or afternoon soda with a glass of water or a cup of tea. Seltzer waters are a fantastic swap for soda! You can still get the carbonation and a bit of flavor without any sugar.
9. Cut back on alcohol
Yeah, most of us have purchased a few extra bottles of wine during the pandemic. And while having a drink from time to time is not an issue for most, the amount of alcohol we consume and time of day we consume it can take a real toll not only on sugar content but also getting restful sleep. While having a few drinks may make you feel tired and fall asleep faster, studies* have shown that alcohol can inhibit REM sleep, or the cycle which stimulates the brain to help with learning and memory retention.
10. Plan your meals for the week
If you are a natural list-maker, this one should be a breeze. Even if you aren’t, setting aside 15 minutes per week to figure out your meals can really help to save money and calories by not falling to a backup plan of ordering takeout. A good way to start is to think of 3 meals for each breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then buying enough groceries to make those meals and have enough leftovers for the next day. Having a pre-planned grocery list (and not going to the store while hungry) saves time at the store as well as helps to avoid the temptation of grabbing unhealthy items as you wander down the aisles wondering what’s for dinner.
A healthy mind is equally as if not more important than a healthy body. Practice mindfulness daily. What do we mean by mindfulness? Find 10-15 minutes for yourself. Practice slow and controlled breathing. Be aware of the present, and when your mind slips into worries of the past or future, just do your best to bring yourself back to the present moment. You can also choose to take that time to instead write in a journal, get your to-do list organized for the day, or do some light stretching.