Archive for Fitness/Exercise

CORONAVIRUS: OH, THE SITTING!

Living life in the middle of the pandemic has certainly been challenging and we all have experienced unexpected side effects.  Since the infection rate is very low in New York, I’m starting to see more people in person. While I expected some strength losses, I wasn’t prepared to see people hobbling in from too much sitting. 

Without getting too technical, in a seated state, your hip flexors are shortened and your butt muscles, the glutes, are lengthened. Staying in this position for too long can cause all kinds of muscular imbalances resulting in lower back, hip and knee pain. Now let’s add the pandemic. So many of us are working from home. Instead of having a commute from the suburbs into the city, the travel time is now from the bathroom to the kitchen. While commuting via public transportation was a hassle, it often involved a lot of walking and stair climbing. Once in the office, there were more moving opportunities—even small things like going to the bathroom down the hall or taking a few flights of stairs to the cafeteria. All of this movement adds up. At the end of the day, there used to be a commute home which, again, involved moving.

Unfortunately, exercise of any kind—even just moving around—can’t be stored up. Being sedentary Monday-Friday and trying to exercise it away on the weekends will not alleviate the problem. The solution? Do your best to get up and move during the day. I am not saying that this will be easy. But I know for certain that even 5-10-minute walking breaks throughout the day will help tremendously. Set your phone as a reminder!

Another issue I’m seeing in people is a lot of neck pain. This is due to having a less than optimal workstation. My husband was one of these people. He finally went to his office and hijacked his work chair. That made a tremendous difference. If you have no idea when you will be going back to work, make the investment in correcting your workspace.

As I was writing this blog, a client of mine sent me a link to a NY Times article about the same issue. See the link below–they give some great tips!

From my perspective? PLEASE MOVE YOUR BODY! And do it as frequently as you can given your set of circumstances. Muscular imbalances don’t go away immediately—they stick around wrecking havoc.

Leave a comment »

CORONAVIRUS: POP GOES THE BLOOD VESSEL???

Last week I went for a very long bike ride in hot, humid weather. When I came back home, I noticed a small, purple bruise over my right eye. It was swollen and tender to the touch. My first thoughts were, “Could this be a bug bite?” and ” Did a small rock hit me along the way?” Surely, I would have noticed these things during my ride. So, I did what any IMG_1846rational person would do: I took a picture of it and sent to my doctor, who happens to be one of my best friends.  I asked her, “Is this a bug bite? Leukemia? Covid?” (Rational, right?) She responded, “No, you broke a blood vessel while riding!”

I broke a blood vessel?? Since this has never happened to me before, I started thinking about it. Broken blood vessels come from excessive straining. This can happen during childbirth, weightlifting, vomiting or even coughing too hard. In my case, it probably happened when I was climbing up a hill and not breathing properly.

Breathing is a wondrous phenomenon. When we breathe we send oxygen into the body.  Oxygen, which gets carried to our working muscles via the red blood cells, is essential for making energy.  Breathing correctly during exercise (exhaling on exertion) will prevent injuries and enhance performance.  Not breathing properly, as I experienced, can have consequences. In addition to straining the blood vessels, holding your breath or not breathing well can cause hernias, spikes in blood pressure,  and increase back pain.

Putting exercise aside, deep breathing has far reaching benefits: It can reduce stress, make you feel calmer, help you fall sleep, improve your lung capacity, and reduce pain. This is why women are coached to breath during childbirth.

If you’ve never tried square breathing, let’s give it a try together. Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Slowly inhale through your nose to the count of 4. Hold at the top of the breath for a count of 4. Then gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4. At the bottom of the breath, pause and hold or the count of 4. Do this a few times.

SEE WHAT I MEAN?!

Now that we’re living in a pandemic, deep breathing is vital. We all are experiencing more uncertainty, more anxiety, and more stress. So, whether you are riding a bike, taking a zoom class, walking your dog, or need to give yourself the gift of feeling calmer, just BREATHE.

 

Comments (2) »

NO TIME FOR EXERCISE? NO NEED TO PANIC!

A good friend of mine, Lydia, is in graduate program that is wreaking havoc on her regular routine. Because of her new internship hours, she can no longer exercise in the morning. She is in full-time position with two young kids at home, and when her day finally ends, she is beat. I knew that this was making her feel anxious when I received an SOS text message from her asking, “WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND??? WHAT CAN I DO?”

There are so many body weight exercises that you can do ranging from lunges to IMG_1397.jpegpush ups. Lydia would love to have a routine of body weight exercises, but there is place to do them. No need to panic–there is good news! Studies show that breaking up exercise into smaller pieces can be just as effective as one longer session. In Lydia’s case, she has several breaks throughout the day.

Before I continue, I have to pause to remind you that “exercise” simply means moving your body so that your heart rate goes up. As I mentioned in previous blogs, dancing around your house like a maniac IS exercise. (Think Zumba!) Lydia has access to several flights of stairs so as long as she climbs them and gets her heart rate up, she will be exercising!

More good news: Lydia can progress her stair climbing. She can walk faster up and down; she can do more stair climbing throughout the day; she can run up the stairs; she can take two steps at a time. She also has a lunch break where she can go for brisk walks.  The other day I received a text from her telling me that she did a 15-minute UPHILL walk during lunch. Between these walks and the stair climbing, Lydia IS exercising.

Even if you have time to do “traditional” exercise, incorporating more activity during the day is important for good health.  It’s moving away from being sedentary (the new smoking) to living a more active life!

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

DON’T MESS WITH WILLIE

A client of mine recently shared an INCREDIBLE story with me that I must share with you! I promise you that this story, about an 82-year old woman, named Willie, will not only make you laugh but will truly inspire you.

Click on this YouTube link.  Seth Myers takes you through the story about fierce Willie Murphy, who proves to be one serious badass.  Take a close look at Willie’s body—at 82, she has a lot of muscle! It is never too late to start weight training, to build muscle, or to get stronger!

 

Leave a comment »

THE SNOWBALL EFFECT

Isn’t it crazy how bad habits, even when kept at bay for a long time, come back? I imagine a knock at the door, opening it and saying “Hello bad habit, welcome back!” Often times one bad habit leads to another. I see this all the time with exercise and clean eating. I’m not sure which one comes first but either a lack of exercise causes a decrease in motivation to eat well, or not eating healthily leads to inactivity. This becomes a snowball effect which is “a situation in which something increases in size or download.jpgimportance at a faster and faster rate” (Cambridge Dictionary). The good news is, the snowball effect can work for you.

A year ago, a new client, “Margot”, came to see me. Margot was in her mid-sixties and not in the best shape. In fact, she wanted me to train her in order to build up her leg muscles so that she could eventually have her knee(s) replaced. Margot was unconditioned. I wasn’t sure how we would get through the first session but we did. Slowly but surely, Margot started making some progress. As she got stronger, she started to do more activities on her own. Her walks around the block with her dog grew longer; her short stints of swimming at her local pool increased. The more she did on her own, the stronger she became, and the more she was able to do with me. All of this exercise and movement motivated Margot to eat healthier. She started paying more attention to her diet and began cooking. She lost weight, felt more energetic and this allowed her to become even more active. A year later, we are both stunned at what she can do. There is no talk of a knee replacement. While I understand physiologically what is happening to her body, I still find her transformation to be nothing short of miraculous. Often times, in our sessions, we  giggle when she is able to do yet another more challenging exercise.

In Margot’s case, the snowball effect is at work in the most positive way. I can visualize the snowball traveling down a hill, getting bigger and gaining momentum. It’s all so glorious when it’s working for you.

If you’re stuck in a rut, have no fear. Focus on one small change and stick to it. That small change can lead to another, and then another and before you know it, you, too,  might find yourself in a wondrous snowball effect!

 

 

Leave a comment »