As I See Fit: Making it count with functional fitness
- on March 12, 2012
Spring is in the air. Everywhere I look I see people walking, running and biking.
That's a great sign for those of us who are looking to get outside and change it up a bit. I've written about the importance of goal-setting, adding physical activity to your day and trying to "eat clean."
I aspire to those things every day. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don't. But I do try. And I know so many of you do, as well.
That's a perfect example of why spring lives up to its moniker of being a time of renewal. It feels entirely possible to really change.
But now that we are entering The Season of The Sun, exercise takes on a new "dimension of despair" when our slim window of exercise opportunity seems to diminish as we revel in the great outdoors. Soccer games, baseball games and outdoor gatherings begin to claim our "disposable hours." Where we once had time to get to the gym for a group fit class, we now do not.
We need to get creative. We need to get inspired.
It's time for what I like to call Functional Fitness. Let's step it up with a fresh new perspective, a clean way of eating, and some great ideas to carry on our workouts in unexpected ways.
Functional Fitness can mean several things, but to me it means simply paying special attention to your everyday routine, paying close attention to the ways that you physically move and then making a conscious effort to integrate your fitness routine into your everyday one.
For example, be aware of the way that you move when you transfer your laundry from your washer to your dryer. Instead of bending down to do it, save your back and make that a squat. Continue to hold that position until you are finished.
When you are vacuuming, instead of just mindlessly pushing the vacuum around, be very aware of the back and forth motion that your arm makes and throw in a little resistance. Focus on drawing that arm back and retracting your shoulder blade.
How much more functional can you be? Paying attention to these little things, in addition to your posture, can help to improve your form and bring you a new awareness of your body during your workout.
Speaking of working out, now that you will most likely be outdoors more, it's going to get a lot more exciting. More opportunities to move and longer days mean more opportunities for you to increase your physical activity. We are rapidly approaching "The Season of the Run" in Lawrence, when there are multiple races each weekend, and our community turns out in droves to volunteer and to participate. Try a 5K or 10K. Grab a friend and do it together, just for the experience.
Not a runner? You don't have to be. You can walk in many of these events. You can do it as a family, too. Step out of your comfort zone, and you may very well find that it is the best thing that you have ever done. The energy at these events is tremendous, and it will fill you with inspiration.
Soccer games and baseball practices mean more fun for the kids outside but less time to think about yourself and what you need to fuel your workout.
Whether you are going to an interval class or on a hike, remember to plan ahead and have a fuel-up food ready to go. Some things to try are apple slices with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with flaxseed or blueberries, or a banana smoothie with soy milk. You must remember to eat. Even if you are dieting or trying to tone up, try to think about what you need to be adding or changing in your diet instead of what to take away.
To help get our shoulders and our backs into perfect springtime shape, it's time to whip out the resistance tubes that we talked about in January. They're inexpensive, compact and ultra-versatile. Most importantly, they are ultra-effective. Give these two moves a try. Take them outside and soak up some vitamin D.
Do two sets of 15 for each move. And have fun! Spring is on the way!
Begin with the tube in front of you, chest level, holding the tube in the middle. Take up the slack. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, pulling the tube so your arms go out to the sides. Return to the starting position, keeping the resistance on the tube. Repeat.
Put the tube behind your back at its widest part, taking the slack up. Holding your hands by your shoulder blades, extend your arms, pulling on the tube. On the return, focus on bringing your shoulder blades close together. Resist as you complete the move. Repeat.