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How You Can Keep Moving With A Busy Schedule

Many of us spend on average 8+ hours sitting at our desks, traveling in planes, trains, and automobiles or on the couch; top that off with another 6-8 hours sleeping. That can add up to nearly 20 hours of sedentary sludge. Sitting invites stagnation and our fascia (the material protecting and supporting our body as a unit) begins to reshape so we start to take on the shape of our chairs. Our hips become tight, ankle movement diminishes, our shoulders push forward, we forget to engage our core as we slouch and collapse our lower back, and our necks crank towards the screen.
First, I don´t want to take for granted that everybody knows how much is enough exercise. To stay healthy or to improve health, adults need to do three types of physical activity each week: aerobic, strength and stretching exercises. If you want to read the full Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, here: health.gov
It can be challenging finding time to fit in errands, work, kids, home, exercise and the million other things to get done in a day.  Time is the biggest barrier to an active lifestyle. Remove the expectation that the only way to get in shape is by going to the gym for an hour every day. This time commitment is simply not realistic for most of us.

Aerobic exercise

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. (See Mayo Clinic Web). To find what´s “moderate activity” try the “talk test”, exercising hard enough to break a sweat but not so hard you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation. Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. At this level, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. You can combine moderate and vigorous exercise over the course of the week, and it’s fine to break up your activity into smaller bursts as long as you sustain the activity for at least 10 minutes. Ideas to add some walks to your day:
  1. Walk while talking on the phone or conduct walking meetings.
  2. Take stairs instead of escalators and elevators.
  3. Park in spaces furthest from the entrance.
  4. Use restrooms on a different floor or furthest from you.
  5. Use half or all of your lunch hour to take a walk with a colleague.  Steve Jobs was at his most creative while walking and thinking outside in the park next to his office, and we can be, too. Apple’s founder knew that the body and mind respond to nature and to moving.
  6. Put on some good music and dance while cleaning the house!
Make a commitment to move at every opportunity, stand whenever you can!

Strength training

The Department of Health and Human Services also recommends strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Studies have shown strength training to increase lean body mass, decrease fat mass, and increase resting metabolic rate. Weight training has also been shown to help fight osteoporosis.
Strength training doesn´t mean a gym membership. There are multiple ways to strengthen your muscles at home or at the workplace: bodyweight training, resistance bands, suspension training… Choose whatever best fit your abilities and preferences. At your desk, or anywhere you spend a good amount of time at, you can perform exercises such as
  1. squats,
  2. lunges,
  3. push-ups and
  4. chair dips.

Stretching

The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults engage in flexibility training two to three days per week, stretching major muscle and tendon groups.
I know all this exercise seems a lot from the point of view of busy people, but all of it only takes one hour, 4% of your day.
Remember, you can break up your activity into smaller bursts. If your job keeps you moving all day long, activity trackers (apps or wearables) are the simplest option to keep track of it. Forget daily steps and aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking. You do so, daily aerobic exercise is done.
Stretching at the workplace is something we all should do, but very few do. Whether you work behind a desk, drive for hours, or spend long hours standing (as waiters and watchmen), some muscles get tired and you feel stiffness, soreness, and at the end of the day, even pain. You can prevent this by taking a few 5 minutes breaks along the day to stretch and relax problematic areas like legs, lower back, shoulders, neck, and wrists. 3 little breaks and you´d be stretching 15 minutes every day. Examples of such stretches or postures can be:
  1. Doing core exercises.
  2. Stretching your legs and back when you are on your desk.
  3. Using a door frame or anything sturdy to stretch your chest.

These stretches will reduce the negative effects that sitting has on your body. It also improves one’s quality of life.

Find an exercise schedule and activities that work for you so that you stay fit and healthy. Once you learn to make time – and it doesn’t have to be a monumental commitment – the benefits will outweigh any desire you may have had to sacrifice your health by staying on the sidelines. Keep in mind that it is possible to get all the exercise you need without using equipment, attending a class or going to the gym.

The most important key is to change the mindset. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore. It should be time for you.  Don’t be afraid to make time for yourself. You are worth it!

Do you need help to achieve your fitness goals? I still have some available spots.
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Foam Roller: Quads Relief

The Quadriceps can be subdivided into four muscles or heads: Vastus Intermedius,  Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis and Rectus Femoris. This group of muscles combined is the largest muscles of the leg. They are extremely crucial muscles aiding in important actions such as walking, running, jumping and squatting in addition to stabilizing the patella.

Tight quads? Don’t worry: foam rolling your quads is quick, easy, and truly effective. There are two main variations on foam rolling your quads: rolling both legs at the same time and rolling each leg individually. Neither is better, it’s really a matter of personal preference and what works best to release your fascia. If you’ve never used a foam roller before, or never foam rolled your quads, you might want to start with the two leg variation. It maintains an even pressure on both quads at the same time, distributing your weight, and so it’s a little lighter. The single leg variation thereby exerts more pressure on the fascia, so it’s better for those that have rolled their quads before, and know that their quads require harder pressure.

Please, read the general instructions on how to foam rolling, here.


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Foam Roller: Shin Relief

Running, jumping rope, box jumps, burpees… they can all lead to shin splints, a painful and incredibly annoying injury experienced by almost every single active person ever. Shin splints are often caused by inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tibia bone. Foam rolling can help release this inflammation (but don’t do this exercise if your shin splints are due to stress fractures).

Read the main instructions on how to foam rolling, here.


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Foam roller: Hamstrings Relief

Tight hamstrings are a common issue among all kind of athletes, no matter the sport. Even non-athletes suffer from tight hamstrings, especially professionals who sit for extended periods of time. Foam rolling the hamstrings is an effective solution for this problem.

Stretching may be more beneficial if foam rolling is done prior to the stretch. A study from 2014, Foam Rolling and Static Stretching on Passive Hip Flexion Range of Motion, measures the effects of foam rolling prior to static stretching. The authors found an increase in the hip range of motion after rolling on the hamstring then stretching, compared to stretching alone.

In my experience, tight hamstrings cause lower back pain. Countless times the pain is gone once I take care of my hamstrings. As foam rolling the lower back is something we should NOT do, loosen up your hamstrings is an indirect way to relieve pain and tightness in the lower back area.

Read the main instructions on how to foam rolling, here.


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Swiss ball lower back stretch

This is one of my favorite stretches to do on a Swiss ball. It feels good on your back but also gives your abs, chest, and shoulders a wonderful stretch.

Lie back over the Swiss ball with the ball centered under your thoracic spine.
Allow your back to gently arch over the ball. Reach arms overhead keeping your elbows straight.

Hold this position and enjoy.


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Lying Gluteal Muscles & Low Back Stretch

This is a real simple and effective stretch. May be used to reduce low back pain, Sciatic Nerve Pain & other symptoms related to improper biomechanics. It stretches Tensor Fascia Latae, Ilio-Tibial Band, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus and Gluteus Maximus.

Lie on your back and cross one leg over the other. Bring your foot up to your opposite knee and with your opposite arm pull your raised knee towards the ground.

Enjoy.

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Modified Hurdler Stretch

This exercise stretches our lower back and hamstrings. You may feel it stretches other parts of your body. That´s a clear sign you need to stretch more often.

Sit on the mat with your legs outstretched in front of you, toes pointed toward the ceiling and knees straight. Bend your left knee and place the sole of the left foot against the inside of your right thigh. Sit as tall and straight as possible keeping your head aligned with your spine. Place your hands on the top of your right thigh.

Engage your abs to stabilize your spine. Exhale and slowly bend forward from your hips, sliding your hands toward your ankle. The knee should remain straight with the toes pointed toward the ceiling. Hold this position as you take a few breaths.

Relax and return to your starting position. Repeat with the opposite leg.


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Dynamic seated Butterfly stretch

The butterfly stretch is one of the simplest stretches and works on your inner thighs, hips, and groin. It improves your flexibility for a variety of motion sports.

Sit on the floor or mat with your legs folded in front of you in a diamond shape with the soles of your feet together. Sit as upright and tall as possible, engage your abs stabilizing your spine. Keep your head aligned. Place your hands on the top of your feet.

In a controlled and fluid motion, move the legs slightly inward and toward each other and then contract the outside of the thighs to press the legs down back towards the floor, stretching through the inner thighs.

Continue this closing and opening of the legs about 12-15 reps.


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Cobra pose

The Cobra pose sStretches muscles in the shoulders, chest, and abdominals. Also, decreases the stiffness of the lower back.

Lie on your stomach on a mat/floor with your hands under your shoulders and fingers facing forward. Legs should be straight and toes pointed.

Engage your abs to support the spine. Gently exhale. Press your hips into the mat. Lengthen the torso and curl your chest away from the ground while keeping your hips stable. Keep the shoulders rolling down and back. Hold this position and take 3-4 deep breathes.

Inhale one more time and gently lower your upper body back to the mat, lengthening the spine as you descend.

As the length of arms differs, individuals may often lift their hips off the mat as they fully extend their arms. In this case, limit the extension of your arms to keep the hips on the mat.

If you experience any pain in the low back with this movement, stop the exercise immediately.


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Exercise for teenagers

Hello, dears!
young sporty woman preparing to run in early foggy morning in th
The NHS recommends to teenagers an hour of physical activity every day to stay healthy.
Sadly, there are people who do not like sports. However, when I hear a teenager “I do not like sports”, I’m always tempted to reply, you haven´t had time to try them all. Besides the most popular, there are plenty, beneficial to growth, sports. Pick something that you find interesting, if you hate running, don’t run.
My dear teenager, exercising is good for you because keeps your body at a healthy weight, keeps your bones strong and your joints healthy, helps you sleep better, produces endorphins that make you feel happy, and reduces stress. If these are not reasons enough, you can have fun and make friends!
The recommended exercise routine consists of three components: aerobics, strength training, and flexibility. Why? Aerobic exercises quicken your heart rate and breathing and are good for your heart. Strengthening your muscles allow you to be able to increase your endurance. A flexible person has a lower chance of getting sprains and strained muscles.
Sports are a great source of aerobic exercise. A soccer player may have great cardiovascular endurance, but he probably will have very little muscular power, especially in the upper body. The physical benefits of a sport usually depend entirely on characteristics of the sport itself.
A proper strength training program will fix this imbalance, focusing on those areas not involved in a particular sport. Also, it will improve your sports performance, enhancing your weak points. 2-3 short sessions on days off your team training will make a huge difference.
Last, but probably most important, take the time to stretch, every day. Staying injury-free throughout the sports season requires a proper stretching routine. Stretching before athletic activity helps prepare the muscles for exercise. Stretching after exercise has proven to be important for preventing injury. Let me tell you 4 tips on stretching:
  1. Avoid any bouncing or bobbing while doing a stretch.
  2. Do not to push yourself too much. To be more specific, always avoid trying to stretch if it feels uncomfortable.
  3. Keep your body relaxed and stretch both sides equally, so that you can improve your overall flexibility and range of motion.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you´re not sure how to do something, ask.

Stay active and have fun!