Have a workout question? Need motivation to get out there and move! Need a voice of reason who can help you weed through the plethora of information on diet and exercise? Ask Kathryn! Kathryn worked as a personal trainer from 1998 until 2004; she now practices and writes about Yoga, Pilates, Strength Training, aerobic activity, and eating for the rest of her life. If you have a question for Kathryn, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. (As always, be sure to go for a thorough check-up with your doctor before implementing an exercise routine. And, for more detailed information on health and exercise, two good websites to visit are: http://www.mayoclinic.com/, and, http://www.webmd.com/)
Q: What’s the easiest exercise to stay in shape? The perfect thing for a naturally lazy person to try? –Charlotte
A: I’m going to say what you may not want to hear, Charlotte. There really isn’t any “easy” way to stay in shape for the rest of your life. It takes commitment, a mindset of, “This is for me! I am worth it.” That said, there are relatively easy things you can do to maximize your exercise routine without huffing and puffing and blowing your poor heart down. And, once you incorporate some basics, you will begin to feel less “lazy.”
Walking is a simple and easy, but safely effective way to get in shape. When walking, you use the large muscles of your legs, hips, and buttocks, burning calories and building strength. Pick a spot that brings joy to you. Is there a part nearby? A lake or pond? Maybe you like walking in the mall—just make sure you are walking and not shopping—some malls open up early for mall-walkers. Swing your arms, find a good pace, breathe, and remember to use good posture.
Dancing is fun and joy-filled. There are times when I turn the music on throbbing loud and dance around the room. Maybe this is your “lazy person” way to get your heart rate up, to use those muscles that are atrophied by lack of use. Dance in your home, or get brave and sign up for dancing lessons.
Fidgeting. Yes, I wrote fidgeting. Okay, I will give you this: the laziest workout ever. Now, imagine I am giving you “The Trainer’s Evil Eye” as you read this, but there are studies that show people who fidget burn more calories than those who are not fidgety. So, strum those fingers, jiggle that leg, shift positions often. Move. You may just burn up to 350 calories a day.
Bottom line, the more you do for your body, the better you will feel. Your body depends on you to take care of it. Find a way to fit in some kind of movement—walk, dance, climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator/escalator, park farther away from entrances, etc. I am sure you have heard these things often, but it bears repeating because it is important—we have one body and that body must take us throughout our life, so, do you want a strong, healthy body? Or one that is weak and tired? Find even ten minutes three times a day to Move. Try the small things daily, and the hope is that you’ll work your way up to more. I will also tell you—there is power in being and feeling strong; try it.
Q: Ms. Kathryn, how do I get the motivation to begin exercising? Osteoporosis runs in my family, and I’m a prime candidate for it, but I hate to sweat and I’m lazy. I know I’m supposed to do cardio and strength training but don’t. Ever. Thank you! – Mary Ann
A: There’s that “lazy” word again. Believe me, once you begin to move and begin to feel your power from a strong and healthy body, that word will not be a part of your personal vocabulary! As long as your doctor has examined you with a “Go for it, Mary Ann!” after you’ve let him/her know you are embarking on a new exercise routine, anyone at any age can begin a New Life when it comes to becoming strong and flexible. And you, in particular, must begin to think about the future of your bones. Studies show it is never too late to build bone mass, to make those bones stronger, and if the muscles surrounding the bones are stronger, they can help support. Some form of strength training is in order, whether you use tubing, do Pilates, free weights, nautilus machines, swimming, water aerobics, walking, etc (as long as you are mindful of any weaknesses/injuries/other issue except laziness that must be addressed). Until you see your doctor to know the condition of your bones, watch out for exercises that compress and twist the spine—like high impact aerobics, some types of yoga moves, rowing motions, even bowling and golfing can put twisting pressure on your spine.
Don’t think about those “supposed to’s” as if exercise is likened to a root canal, but instead, find a routine that gives you a sense of accomplishment and power. If money is not an issue, I suggest finding a good personal trainer in your area—be sure to ask what experience they have, but just as important, you must feel comfortable with the trainer—not only “personally” but also with the goals and exercises they ask of you. A good trainer will help you find a routine that feels right for you, keep you motivated to a regular routine, know any areas of weakness or problem areas, and finally, teach you how to continue the routine without them. If a trainer is not practical for you, find an exercise buddy, someone who will call you up and say, “Let’s go. No excuses.”
Finally, get educated—visit your doctor and ask for informational pamphlets, or go to good websites like the Mayo Clinic. Imagine walking straight and tall; imagine those strong bones supporting you through life; imagine getting that bone scan and your doctor telling you, “Good bones!” And you walk out of the doctor’s office with a smile on your face, in all your strong power.