Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Exercise, anywhere and anytime.

We all know health is wealth and we try our best to stay in the pink of health. There are many reasons and ways to stay healthy that ranges from the type of food we eat, our sleep pattern and how much time we allocate in caring for our body (to name a few).

In the last couple of months, I dedicated a fraction of time to myself. I called it ‘Me-time’, as shared in my previous post, Lost in transition. I used this time to rejuvenate and regenerate so I can be a better me. This has lead me to be a better manager, at managing my time as a stay-at-home-mom.

What started off as an exercise regime to stay fit as a fiddle, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I always thought exercise to be all about toned abs and weight loss but it has given me more. I feel as though I have achieved a holistic and uplifting benefit out of this simple (but hard to do) change in my sedentary lifestyle.

The constant feel good and cool as a cucumber mood has been quite prevalent lately. I am able to tackle mishaps and mayhem, with a lighter and more cheerful attitude. I hear myself speaking to me, “stay calm, it’s just a broken glass” or “so what if she wants to run around the house without any pants!”
Sadly in the past, living with me was like trying to navigate in a land of minefields without a metal detector. I was generally calm but would become surly whenever my Berserk-buttons were pressed, whether intentionally or accidentally. I cannot say that I have exorcised the characteristic of a Berserk Button but am most certainly managing it a lot better now.

There is no magic potion to this change. I attribute it to the benefits of exercising. I started this exercise regime because I did not like feeling left out or be caught out of breath again, whenever I played with my kids in the park. Or to be like the child minder I saw huffing and puffing for air after she had triumphantly rescued her employer’s daughter (a two year old quick as lightening toddler, whom decided to run into a busy street) from being run down by a fast car.

I know this is not an easy feat and if you are a mother to young children, you are most probably struggling to keep your head above water. So asking you to spare half hour out of your hectic schedule, might just make you want to throw something at my face. Trust me, I know that feeling. But if you could just bare with me and read on, you will see light at the end of the tunnel.

Many people (like yours truly) hit the gym or sweat it out whenever possible with the sole purpose, to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle and of course to get a lean, mean rockin’ body. But for the past decade or so, thanks to some scientists, we have studies that show, making time for exercise provides more than mere physical benefits. It has some above-the-neck benefits too.

Mind-blowing benefits of exercising.

Working out is a good stress reliever and excellent happy-mood booster. So if you had a rough day at work or at home and your kids are driving you nuts, it’s time for a break. Reaching out for a bar of Kit Kat could possibly give you momentary relief but if you spend about 20 - 30 minutes working out, you may just end up with a feeling of happiness and euphoria. Exercising increases the level “soothing” brain chemicals like norepinephrine, that can moderate brain’s response to stress and releases endorphins - the feel-good chemical. The “soothing” brain chemicals which increases with exercise is good for lifting you up if you are feeling depressed, helps improve learning and keeps the brain fit. It may keep Alzheimer's at bay too.

While exercise is not a cure for Alzheimer's but it is capable of preventing degeneration of brain cells which happens as we age. So start exercising today because physical exercise is as important as mental exercise, when it come to fending off memory loss and keeping mentally sharp in old age. Think of it as opening a bank account, the earlier you start regular exercise the better your chances at preventing brain cells degeneration and keeping skills like vocabulary retrieval strong.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Since leaving my children behind to head to a gym was not an option and neither was leaving them at home so I can go for a quick jog, I decided to turn my surroundings to be my gym. Every evening (it has sort of become a ritual), I take my kids to a playground (truth be told, they take me!).

It’s the time for them to release all their pent-up energy for being cooped up in school and home. So while they are happily playing, I get on with my physical exercise in the playground. Even if your playground doesn’t come equipped with special exercising apparatus, you can still get a full body workout. Use the bars, swings, steps and even the slide as your exercising apparatus. Equipped with a little knowledge on how to use these, it could bring you a lot of physical goodness, at no cost at all (no expensive gym membership is required).
Triceps workout
Rest both hands on a bar and imagine you are seated on a chair (hips forming a 90-degree angle). Bend your elbows and lower your hips like taking a dip towards the ground until your arms form a 90-degree angle, hold for two counts and return to start. Do two sets of 10 - 12 triceps dips.

This one exercise targets your chest, shoulder and core. The basic planking is achieved is by standing on your feet and elbows, parallel to the ground. You could also use a swing to do a suspension planking which is more challenging because to balance your upper body on a swing, you will need to fully engage your shoulders, chest and core to be straight and tight. Hold the position for a minute and increase this hold as you progress in your planking.


Calf raises
This targets your calf. Find parallel bars, steps or curb and raise your body by raising both feet (and not with the help of your upper body) up to your toes (like a ballerina dancer) and hold it to a slow count of 10 before returning to standing position. Perform three sets of calf raises.

We all know lunges are good because it targets your entire lower body and core but wait till you try suspension-lunge! This variation using a swing will require you to concentrate on balance and stability. Start by balancing on one foot while placing the other foot (back leg) on top of a swing. Slowly extend your back leg behind you as you lower yourself towards the ground into a lunge and your front knee forms a 90-degree angle. Hold for a while and return to start. Perform two sets of 8 to 12 lunges on each side.

Full wheel pose
This pose is widely practised by Indian classical dancers and yoga practitioners. It strengthens your whole body, especially the thighs, shoulders, arms, wrists and spine. While helping you soothe your stress and increase energy level so you can tackle another day feeling fresh and revamped.
The best way to achieve this is by playing tag. The short distance but quick sprints trying to avoid being tagged are excellent. Playing football is another good option.

So there you have it, some ways to get off the couch to achieve a healthy you with the help of your little ones.
Tis time to ditch your hand phone at home and lace up on your next visit to the playground. If these benefits are not good incentives, do it for the children. Once they get into this routine, you will have a great workout buddy, who like clock works, will persuade and talk you into taking them to the playground.

The only bad workout is one that didn't happen.

Disclosure: I am not a trained nor certified personal trainer. These workouts were not designed by me but all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

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