Archive for Fitness/Exercise

CORONAVIRUS: THE HAZARD OF FOCUSING ON WEIGHT

Recently, a woman reached out to me inquiring about starting some training sessions. She had previously been a relatively consistent exerciser, but fell off the wagon due to the pandemic. She had gained some weight and felt awful. I wanted her to either start zooming with me or coming to my studio (with COVID precautions) as soon as possible, because I knew that once she started exercising and moving again, she would feel so much better. She hesitated. After some gentle prying, I discovered that she felt that she had to lose weight before she could start exercising. Oh, there is that “weight-loss issue” always getting in our way!

Here’s the reality. Regardless of your weight, exercise works. If trained properly, you can get stronger, keep your bones healthy, improve your balance, enhance your flexibility, improve your cardiovascular fitness and build muscle. Regardless of your weight, you can change your body composition by building muscle tissue and losing fat. Regardless of your weight, exercise will definitely boost your energy levels and put you in a better mood. And let’s face it, in our current situation, we all could use to feel happier. Exercise will help relieve stress, and help you sleep better.

The problem with this potential client is she might not be able to lose weight right now. We are living in a global pandemic and we are stressed!  Given her view that she can’t start exercising until she loses some weight, she is missing an opportunity to feel better.

Bottom line: Don’t let your weight be a barrier for not exercising. Once you get going, you will be so glad that you did!

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CORONAVIRUS: STRIVING FOR “JUST RIGHT”

I find myself wanting to write more and more about this pandemic and how it’s impacting all of us in so many different ways.

I have a bunch of clients who, in the past, have been dedicated, consistent exercisers. Now, because of the pandemic, some of them are struggling to barely maintain a routine. For the first time, they are experiencing “never-before-twinges” in their bodies, coming from a lack of exercise.

On the other extreme, some people, because of the pandemic, have extra time in their day and are actually exercising more than they ever had before. After all, exercise helps alleviate stress and this is a stressful time. For the first time, some of them are experiencing “never-before- twinges” in their bodies, coming from too much exercise and not enough rest.  

In both cases, the balance is off. And in both cases, ignoring those “never-before-twinges” is not a good thing. Our bodies feedback a lot of important information to us—we just have to pay attention and listen. A lack of exercise, accompanied by too much sitting, will cause back and neck pain, as well as stiff knees and hips. Your body is letting you know that you need to move more. Likewise, if you are overdoing it, your joints and muscles WILL tell you what’s going on. Ignoring those messages and pushing through the discomfort, never works out well in the long-term. What your body needs is good nutrition, rest, and in most cases, stretching.

Striving for that middle ground—that “just right”, is what we all need to do. It’s not easy–especially in a pandemic!

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CORONAVIRUS: SANITY, NOT VANITY

Well, we survived the strangest Thanksgiving ever. With the pandemic, one day blends into the next and often, we don’t even know what day it is.  While the days drag on, time also seems to be passing quickly—this is the LONGEST-SHORTEST TIME.  (FYI: That is the name of a podcast focusing on parenting, another “long-short” experience.)

The other day, I heard an interview with a celebrity, who was talking about his rigorous exercise regime during the pandemic. He said, “At this point, it’s not about vanity, it’s about sanity.” I couldn’t agree more.

This pandemic is stressful for all of us. Even if you’re convincing yourself that you’re “fine”, you’re not. (I tried that and it didn’t work!) The best way to combat stress is to MOVE your body. I know it is getting more challenging with the darkness and the colder weather. The problem is, if you don’t move, you will actually feel physically and mentally worse. And this starts the negative cycle: you don’t feel great, so you don’t want to move, and you don’t want to move because you don’t feel great. I am telling you that a positive cycle is also possible: The more you move, the better you will feel and the better you feel, the more you will want to move.

Given that there is no relief on the immediate horizon, if you have been stuck, it’s time to get going. The most important thing is consistency so you are going to have to experiment to see what form of exercise will work best for you in this pandemic. Can you safely see a trainer, who is not a gym? Can you find an exercise zoom class? Perhaps try a YouTube video? Invest in a peloton? Get some warm clothing so you can still exercise outside? Don’t get overly focused on what “the best” exercise regime is. The best one is the one you enjoy because then you’ll do it! 

Exercise is a natural antidepressant. Like most things, it is not a panacea and will not make you feel ALL better. I’m moving around like crazy but still have plenty of bad days. However, it will definitely take the edge off and will definitely help you de-stress and make you feel energized. I say…….strive to stay sane and give it a try!

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OH THOSE THE NON-EXERCISING INJURIES!

My client’s husband, let’s call him George, has a challenging back—he has a few herniated discs. To keep his back in check, George exercises regularly. He has a home gym with everything he needs, and has figured out a therapeutic exercise regime to stay healthy. My client says that his form, when exercising, is exemplary.

George never endures injuries while exercising. However, when he steps out of his home gym, he runs into problems. Often, when he bends over to pull out the weeds from his garden, BOOM, his back goes out. The same thing happens when he’s shoveling snow or moving furniture around his house. In order to prevent this from happening, George should approach these activities just like he does when he’s working out. He needs to consider “weed pulling” an exercise just like a squat, a deadlift or a chest press. If he does this, he will change his form—he will bend less and use his legs more so that he won’t have as many back issues outside of his gym. 

George isn’t alone. Most of us “committed exercisers” rarely get hurt while we are exercising. That’s because we are focused on our body position, engaging our core muscles, and looking in the mirror to make sure we are in proper alignment. Simply put, we are paying close attention. In real life we need to do the same thing. We have to focus on our form when picking up a laundry basket, going down the steps to the basement, or strolling with a friend on a dirt path.

Lately, several of my clients have sustained minor injuries, such as twisted knees, sprained ankles, and fractured elbows, all stemming from a lack of attention. I can tell you with certainty that I’m guilty of this as well. Most of the injuries that I sustain come from when I’m working, NOT when I’m exercising. These minor injuries set us back physically, which then leads to an emotional upheaval.   

PLEASE be careful! Now that the season is changing, it is getting cooler and darker. Soon, we will change the clocks and we will be in even more darkness. We are also still in the throes of a pandemic and immersed in a political quagmire. Given all of these factors, we have to work extremely hard to stay mentally healthy! Since exercise relieves stress, improves sleep, helps reduce depression, and increases our sense of well-being, PLEASE stay as vigilant as possible when you’re not exercising! This way you can keep moving, which will help preserve your sanity.

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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.

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