Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! Exercise For Those Who Stand, Goal Setting

Fitness Spark*s*
A random collection of information, tips and food for thought on fitness, health, wellness and wellbeing meant to spark - inspire - the lifestyle changes that will boost your wellbeing.
spark – a latent particle capable of growth or developing. (Merriam Webster).

Happy New Year!  It's Resolution Time, V. 2015  Also Exercise Recommendations For Those Who Stand All Day.

Time is our best friend and our worst enemy.” 

Its a time for resolutions, and you will see advice in every news article or show right now.  Since I have a vested interest in fitness & wellness myself, I'm going to chime in.  Bear with me if youve heard this all before.

Failure to plan is planning to fail.   My main suggestion is to have a plan. Write your goals down. Make your plan, break it into smaller objectives and choose only one or two areas to focus on at a time. A whole remake of your eating or exercise routines right off the bat is a sure way to get overwhelmed, and not make it to Easter.  A recent article I read recommended remembering that fitness & wellness is a process.  It won't happen overnight, and there will be triumphs and setbacks.  Just keep on going, no matter what.

SMART Goals  To further help insure success in accomplishing your resolutions or goals, make sure your  goals are SMART.  That is to say specific, measurable, achievable, realistic & time defined. 

For example, instead of saying “ I want to get in better shape”, or “I want to lose weight”, a specific goal would be “I want to lose 10 pounds by Easter.  Or,  “I want to be able to run a 5K with my friend in June”.  Ten pounds is a measurable amount, so is the 5K.  It’s also achievable or attainable since a safe rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds a week.  The 5K would depend on your current level of fitness, but is specific & measurable.  Six months is likely enough time. Realistic means its something that’s possible or relevant to your lifestyle.  Timely means you’ve set a reasonable deadline for yourself.

Get Expert Advice  Next ask yourself how you intend to achieve your goal.  Losing weight generally involves a diet of some sort, and ideally, has an exercise program associated with it.  Get the best advice from your doctor, a registered dietician, or exercise professional on how to implement your plan. Half the mistakes we see in the gym are from DIYers who read a magazine or book and try to apply it without knowing if its appropriate for them.  Also typical are folks getting injured by jumping into a program like CrossFit, Boot Camp, or even yoga or pilates, without easing into it.

By the way, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, and its possible to get a personal training certification in three days online.  Find out what your experts qualifications are before signing up for an expensive program.  Do some research online using reliable sources (more on that next post).  Break down big goals into smaller ones.  

Plan Rewards Plan on appropriately rewarding yourself for achieving your progressive achievements a movie, mani/pedi, sports tickets, or other nonfood reward, if weight loss is the goal.

Go For It!   Give yourself a start date.  Procrastination never got anyone anywhere.  Good luck!  You CAN do it!

Now How About Organized Exercise for the person who stands all day?  Or for that matter, the person who is too busy to get to the gym regularly.  As promised, here are some tips:

Try High Intensity Circuit Trainingalso known as HIIT (high intensity interval training).  Plan on one or two sessions a week, either at the gym or at home.  Hire a trainer & ask for interval training that combines aerobics & resistance training.    There are numerous variations of HIIT; Tabata is another popular format.   

These programs will maximize the gains while minimizing the time invested since they can be done in 20-30 minutes.  Aerobic intervals are combined with strength training sets in a circuit that creates continuous exercise.  Mini circuits of 10 to 15 minutes can be done throughout the week at home to help maintain muscle  strength & aerobic endurance.  You do need to be in reasonably good shape to commence these!!  However, they can be modified for almost anybody by a knowledgeable fitness professional. See the other caveats below.

Other scientifically developed  high intensity programs that might work for you are the Scientific 7 minute workout - either the original or advanced versions, or the 4x4 Interval Training System.  The New York Times has even developed a web app which can be used online or on your smartphone.

Background Information:  The original 7 minute workout was devised at the High Performance Institute in Florida, and was published in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.  The original research is here.  (ACSM is one of the most respected organizations in matters of fitness, movement and conditioning.  They are are behind the Exercise  is Medicine program, which you may be hearing more about in months to come.)  

The 4x4 program was developed at the Norwegian University of Tromsø, by the same folks who developed the longevity quiz in my first post.  They have developed a 7 week program that incorporates 20 minute workouts with a 4 minute high intensity interval.  Find the program here.

Now the caveats - you should be in reasonably good shape to do these workouts safely.  If you are a beginner, have any pre existing conditions that affect exercise, or are over the age of 55, I strongly recommend getting clearance from your doctor. 

Please also consult with an exercise professional, whether exercise physiologist, personal trainer or athletic trainer.  A certified professional  can modify a high intensity program for you and progress it safely. This can be the best investment you've ever made and will insure you wont get injured early in the game.

 Another Tip:  Move Purposefully   You're on your feet anyway, so try to do little "sprints" of activity. Think about where you can get your heart rate elevated a bit.  Get in brisk walks whenever possible  from the parking lot, or from one building to another.  Use the stairs & take them two at a time.  You might also do a quick set of lunges.  This might keep you ready the next time there's a Code called in the hospital, or when the emergency alarm goes off at work or school. Sneak in other focused activity wherever possible - take the stairs with high knees, try parking further away, take in one grocery bag at a time or do a few squat lifts with them - get creative by being aware of the need to move all your muscles.  Stretch to get out the kinks that can form from using the same muscles constantly.

Lastly:  When youre couch surfing or resting in front of the TV, keep those dumb bells or leg weights handy for commercial break exercise. Do leg lifts.  Try planks or triceps dips on the sofa.  Rip off a quick set of crunches. This is also a good time to stretch.  Get your viewing companion to join in, and youll both be ahead of the game.  Watch your posture & form, however. No dumbbells?  No problem!  Lots of ways to improvise.  More on that next time!

As always, please e-mail comments or questions to   

©Fitness Spark Personal Training, Jan. 1, 2015.

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