#7 Piriformis Stretch

A lot of people suffer from tight hips and a tight tush. Even if you don’t, this stretch is going to feel great. The first picture shows a good way to stretch sitting on a chair. The second picture shows a good way of doing it on the ground. Do 1-3 sets, of holding for 30 seconds, or 6 breaths. Doing both sides once = 1 rep. Keep breathing. Relax your jaw.

#3 Buttock Stretch

This stretch targets the butt muscle. It’s also a good time to point and flex your foot with a few ankle rotations added in. Do 1-3 sets, of holding for 15-60 seconds or 3 to 12 breaths. Do 5-10 reps for the foot point and flex with same number of ankle rotations. Doing both sides once =1 set. Keep breathing throughout the set.

 

#1 Warming Up The Spine Stretch

This is a great way to wake up the spine in the morning, or anytime for that matter. If getting down on the floor doesn’t work for you, stand to do the stretch. Start in a neutral position or with a flat back.  Exhale when you round the back and look at your bellybutton. Inhale, gently arch your back and lift your head slightly. Keep your elbows soft. Repeat 1-3 times. Go slowly. See pictures below.

 

 

Welcome to 12 Days of Holiday Stretching

There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of stretching. The findings are a mixed bag of reviews. Some reports say, ‘don’t bother with the typical static stretch (held for longer than 10 seconds) before you do any activity’. Others say, ‘a series of full body dynamic stretching (putting your muscles through the range of motion) is most beneficial’.

Add to that the many heated debates about when to hold a stretch and for how long, and one can get confused as to what to do.

There is little evidence that stretching, done before or after exercise, helps performance or recovery. There is a great deal of conflicting information out there.

Your best bet is to listen to your body. Everybody agrees that you can stretch because you want to, and that view seems to work the best. Engaging in some light stretching daily goes along way to staying on top of the effects of cold or wet weather, tight muscles and the aging process.  

In keeping with the view of a little stretching everyday is good for you, I’ve come up with 12 Days of Holiday Stretching. Hope you enjoy them.

I’ll start posting tomorrow, one per day, with a little description of why I’ve posted it, and how you can easily do it.

Here’s to a wonderful holiday season and happy, gently stretched muscles.

Happy Holidays,

Jody J.

 

Disclaimer: Please do these exercises and stretches responsibly. If you feel the need to check in with your doctor before starting, please do so.  

 

A Few Surprising Benefits of Taking a Walk Outside

Being in the great outdoors has multiple benefits. Research has shown improvements in mental well-being, self-esteem and energy. It also helps to decrease frustration, worry, depression and tiredness.

Here is another surprising perk.  Exposure to plants such as trees can help to improve your immune system, which in turn helps you to fight off illness. Even the air born chemicals that plants emit to protect themselves from fungus, bacteria and insects may also benefit humans. Scientists think that a two-hour walk in the forest can increase our natural killer cells by 50 %. What's fascinating is that these cells circulate through our bodies killing bacteria, viruses, fungus and other invaders. 

It also turns out that engaging in light activity outdoors is better than doing light activity indoors. Keeping this information in mind, I developed a walking routine that might help you stick to your exercise goals and increase your natural killer cells. I’ve done this routine by the beach, in the forests and on tree lined streets.

  • Walk around for 10 minutes to warm up
  • Do 10 minutes of dynamic stretching – leg swings, squats, arm swings, calf raises
  • Include, not too intense, walking sprints throughout your 20 minute walk that last anywhere from 6-20 seconds, with a 10 second rest
  • Cool down by slowing down and then adding a few total body stretches

Enjoy your walk.

Note for people with afternoon sugar cravings: A brisk power walk is a great way to fend off that 3 pm sugar craving. And, if you have a sweet tooth and need to complete a stressful work-related assignment go for a quick 15-minute walk. Afterwards, you might not be so interested in a sweet treat. 

Say that again...

I know that dementia is the elephant in the room when it comes to having a discussion about aging gracefully. We save money for our retirement but do we save enough time and energy to be physically, socially and mentally active?

A client sent me a link to an article that writes about research presented at a recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago. It offers a few hopeful, practical suggestions for delaying dementia as long as possible.

Do read some of the comments at the end of the article. They provide a human dimension that I find very interesting.

Let’s talk - on Facebook. Like JodysFitness and join in the conversation.

Next blog: How to make a short walk part of your exercise strategy for good health.

 

Holiday Pumpkin Crunch

The holidays are filled with rich snacks that sometimes leave you hungry. Try out this healthy alternative. Plus, it's delicious. Happy Holidays from Jody's Fitness. 

 Pumpkin Cranberry Crunch

  • 1 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1¼ cups dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 300°. Lightly spray a baking sheet with canola oil and spread pumpkin seeds evenly over sheet. Roast for 20 minutes.

2. Place pumpkin seeds in a medium bowl and mix in maple syrup until coated. Combine spices in a large bowl and pumpkin seeds. Place back on baking sheet and return to oven. Roast for 15 minutes or until dry. Be sure not to burn. Set seeds aside until completely cool, for about 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine seeds with dried cranberries.

Make 10 (1/4-cup servings, each contains approximately:

  • 125 calories
  • 13 gm. Carbohydrate
  • 7 gm fat
  • 0 mg cholesterol
  • 4 gm protein
  • 123 mg sodium
  • 1 gm fiber

For more spa recipes visit www.canyonranch.com

Change Room Chats – so much can be learned

 

A change room at a gym can sometimes be quite a lively arena for conversation. This chat included a personal trainer, her client and three other women. It was all quite lively.

It was easy to overhear the ladies as I continued to get changed in a nearby area. They talked about their general confusion regarding what is a healthy snack, the right oils to use for frying and the ever-changing trends around eating in general. The personal trainer had a lot to say about each topic.

It started with seaweed crisps, which, I heard from the trainer, were high in sodium but low in calories.  A few samples were tasted. The sodium content was not too worrisome - 0 calories was a big draw. A package of crisps was added to someone’s shopping list. Personally, seaweed is one food that is not recommended for my own blood type. And just as well. A seaweed snack wasn’t all that appealing.

What oils to use when frying food was next. Coconut oil was one recommendation, but there was some dissension. Olive oil got an overwhelming negative mark, as did cooking with butter. Grapeseed oil received a resounding round of approval. I silently agreed. It happens to be the latest trend for both baking and frying. It’s tasty as well.

A few eggs with spinach is the breakfast of choice according to someone’s naturopath. Most of the women were skeptical.  I both agreed and disagreed; eating poached eggs a couple of mornings a week works great for me.

The whole conversation made me think that with food one must listen to one’s body. The goal is to be connected to what you feel like eating and then act on it. I’m finding that it’s a whole lot easier to listen to my body when I can hear it talk.  Check out the blood type diet here and make up your own mind to try it or not.  Don’t know your blood type? You can register here to find a blood donor clinic near you.  That way you can be pro active (civic duty and all) and find out your blood type for free.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be writing on two gentle and highly effective activity routines that might be good for you to explore, a soup business based right here on the North Shore, eye health and so much more.

 

Gardening – A great way to keep fit

Gardening is both a fun and enjoyable way to be outside and to keep fit.Not only does all that digging, pushing and pulling burn as many as 300 calories per hour, but according to Jefferey Restauccio, author of Fitness the Dynamic Gardening Way, turning the compost pile also works your arms, back and shoulders plus your lower back and abdominal muscles.

Here are some tips:

  • Slowly work into gardening
    • Take a quick stroll around your garden. Add a few shoulder rolls and arm circles to get your upper body warm. Add a few minutes to warm up your legs by doing a couple of squats and knee circles. Adding some standing back bends to forward bend will warm-up your lower back, hips and back of your legs. 
  • Lift with your legs
  • Move your feet when lifting and digging
    • This will protect your lower back. Pivot on the ball of one foot by lifting your heel when you have to twist around.
  • Kneel or sit when pulling weeds
  • Protect yourself
    • If you are using chemicals, wear a mask and when planting, wear gardening gloves. Breathing in plant spores, and or soil particles, might not be good for your health.
  • Stretch
    • Remember to stretch your back, chest, shoulders, legs, hips and even hands. If you can, aim for 15 to 20 minutes of stretching. You will thank me for reminding you.

There is no better way to spend one’s time than relaxing in the garden (along with a cup of tea). Enjoy your garden, and the summer. 

 

Exercise? Not Today, But Maybe Tomorrow…

According to current research we need approximately 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to stay healthy. That translates into choosing an activity that will leave you slightly out of breath with a glow of light sweat on your brow. But, how do you find the time to exercise when, for example, there aren’t enough minutes in the day to do everything you need to accomplish?

Finding 20 minutes a day is a good strategy for hitting the mark of 150 minutes a week. It’s been proven that exercise doesn’t have to be done all at once in order for you to gain benefits from it. It can be broken up into smaller bits of time. Breaking twenty minutes into in two 10-minute segments is another great way to divide and conquer. You’ll probably feel better instantly.

Here is an example of what 20 minutes in your day might look like.

In the morning – 5 minutes 

The Sun Salutation is a yoga set of exercises. It’s a great way to start the day and works on waking up all of you – body and soul.

 

During your day –10 minutes

Let’s bring back morning and afternoon recess. As an example, break the office spell and get outside for 10 minutes. Or, get your coffee or tea some place other than the staff lunch room. Don’t think working from home means you can’t get out for 10 minutes either. Like Jody’s Fitness on Facebook and let’s start a dialogue about what’s working for you. 

 

In the evening – 5 minutes

At some point at night pick three exercises and do one set of 10-12 reps of each. For example: squats, wall or a floor push-up and front or side planks. Take a minute for each exercise. Finish with some light stretching of the muscles you just used.

 

Trainer Tip: Walking is a wonderful way to be active for 20 minutes in a day. Include some stairs or hills to add some sweat to your brow. Add some bench push-ups and a calf stretch to finish off.

Remembering to take the stairs instead of the elevator, standing more at work and sitting less at home are more examples of making your daily life more active.

Now, stand up. Take a moment to stretch. Take another moment to relax by breathing deeply. 

 

Grey Power Hour – Age Appropriate Exercise

The upcoming Grey Power Hour: Personalized Training at Group Rates (both for men and women) will be held at the YWCA, here in Vancouver, BC.  We will be using both the Cardio Room along with the quieter gym setting. The Cardio Room equipment is best for both the warm-up phase of the session and the cardio endurance portion of the class. The quieter gym setting has all the equipment needed for the strength and flexibility training portions.

The first session will focus on individual assessment and meeting the other members of the group. Filling out the Y’s Consultation Form and a Jody’s Fitness Health Questionnaire, setting your goals for the six-week session and using some simple and quick additional body assessment tools will take about an hour.

The next five sessions will be a mix of an extended warm-up, use of cardio equipment – in more of a gentle way to increase aerobic endurance than you may be used to, resistance training using free weights to increase strength – maybe in a more functional way than you might be used to and some light stretching.

Session themes will allow you to focus on one thing at a time when doing your exercise. For example, one session will center on remembering to use good posture while seated or standing doing aerobic activity, using the resistance equipment -  even while stretching.  My job will be to give individual and group verbal cues to help you remember.

At the end of each 45-minute exercise session there will be time to ask lifestyle questions in a group setting.

The program, although targeted towards older adults, is also for any person whose body requires more care and attention while exercising.

I have had a wonderful time developing this training format, using the latest information available and tailoring it to this demographic. This is an exciting time to be an older adult in the area of health and wellness. It’s an opportunity to start doing age appropriate exercise to help you best physically navigate the next stage of your life. 

Turning the Page: How to Celebrate & Navigate the Holidays

According to Dr. John P. Foreyt, professor and expert in nutrition research, and Sharon Drinkwater, R.N., you can stay ahead of the seasonal changes in body size by engaging in behavior modification techniques that will encourage you to eat, drink and be merry – without the guilt. 

We have all experienced those holiday situations where we find ourselves eating and drinking more than we should, only to feel slightly guilty about it the next day. Why not try some of these techniques. Isn’t it time you write your own seasonal success story?

Tip #1

Visualize and practice how you will handle the situations that are problematic –Christmas parties and family dinners come to mind. As Ms. Drinkwater suggests, rehearse your choices before you go out; visualize what you will eat and drink; and practice saying “no thank you”.

Tip #2

Dr. John Foreyt is in favor of making a plan and then implementing it when needed. Strategies like sitting down to eat, or eating slowly work quite well.

Tip #3

Self-monitor. It’s good to keep track of what you eat and drink. Think quality over quantity. Stop when you have had enough.

Tip #4

Enjoy yourself. Your body can handle some indulgent behavior every now and then.

Tip #5

Stay active. Aerobic activity of any kind, that lasts longer than 10 minutes, will help the endorphins kick in. Strength training for 15-20 minutes, done once or twice over the holiday period, will help you to feel strong and able. Light daily stretching or the Yin style of yoga, is good for both your muscles and your state of mind.

My advice. Be brief with indulgences and don’t take too much time off from your regular eating, exercise and drinking patterns. It is only a few days of special parties and dinners. Have fun this holiday season without the negative self-commentary.

 

'When Your Trainer’s On Vacation' Workout

You’ve had a great summer. Kept up with your training schedule. Have arrived each time for your session and kept the cancellations to a minimum. You’ve proudly received your gold stars and reached your goals.  New ones have been set for the Fall quarter and you’re ready to get started. There’s just one little glitch. Your personal fitness trainer is going on vacation for three weeks. Now, what do you do?

My advice. Give yourself a break from a formal program. Put your energy toward doing more daily activity as well as plan one 45-60 minute total body routine once a week.

For the daily activity stuff, focus on the following:

  • Daily Activity: Aim for thirty minutes of activity daily. Move your body any which way. All activity counts.
  • Standing: Stand up every 45-minutes. Move around. Get some water. Take a stretch break. Go for a little walk about.
  • Core: Work on activating your abs by pulling them in and up. Bring your shoulders back under your ears, focus your eyes straight ahead, bring your chin down and back so that your forehead is in line with your chin. Now, take three deep breaths.
  • Driving: Every time you stop the car, work on pulling your shoulders back or your chin down.
  • Watching TV: Move around during the ads or stand up and stretch.
  • Stretching: Some light stretching done daily is the answer to staying flexible both in body and mind.

 

For your weekly Workout, use the FITT formula as a guide for your more structured time:

  • Frequency: 1x a week 
  • Intensity: Hard to somewhat hard or a rate of 5-7 on the perceived exertion scale*
  • Time: 30-60 minutes
  • Type: Total Body exercise routine – Cardio, Weights, Core Work and Stretching

*Want to learn more about perceived exertion go here.

 

Added to what is above, the goal is find new and interesting ways to get your body moving. Whether it’s yard work, a home renovation project, or something else, it’s all about moving your body in new ways that's important. Plus, September is going to be a beautiful month. Take it outside.