Tools for fitness, goodbye snowbirds

Most people are keen to incorporate a bit more fitness into their lives (especially after ‘big’ weekends, such as Thanksgiving). I’ll share a few things that have helped me along the way.
– DVD’s from the public library. They have everything from stretching, massage, cardio, pilates, kettlebells, nordic walking and even swim technique. Pick up a DVD a week, and make sure you run through it once before the due date. I’ll share with you that most often, I am running through a DVD the night before it is due and even the night it is due. The due date is a motivator for me, and I like that I get to try so many different videos. Some of them are surprisingly unique.
– Go for a walk. This time of years, with the leaves in full splendor and before the terrain gets slippery from snow and ice are perfect times to take some time away from the TV/Computer. While would always love to go to Gatineau park, walking in the neighborhood for 30 minutes is much more feasible.
– Go jogging. This is a little more intense, but for those who haven’t been running a number of years, starting a with a minute run, minute rest and repeatedly alternating is the safest way to get your heart ready for longer runs as you get more endurance. Enjoy the scenery – count how many squirrels you see on a run, wave at the cats and dogs in people’s windows, or just admire the seasonal decorations people have taken the care to display.
– Cycling. Yes, the weather is cooler now, but it is a great time for cycling and most avid cyclists know this. You can burn some calories but you don’t overheat. The trick to cycling is to ‘spin’ in a low gear, so you have a fast spin (60 to 120 pedal strokes per minute). This is easier on your knees and more efficient. This is how champion cyclists are able to go all day. As soon as you feel like you are pushing the pedals, your cadence is probably too low.
– Raking leaves. Many of you will be raking leaves every few days this fall. Bend your knees as you rake and don’t just rely on your back to reach. You don’t want to pull a back muscle or overtax your intervertebral discs. If you have a lot of raking to do, try to split it over several days (e.g. front yard one day, back yard another). I’m trying a new strategy this year – I’m going to let the leaves be until the first little snowfall, then scoop them up over the next few days. Of course, this could backfire if the first snowfall is a big and lasting one, so this will be a test. I have noticed neighbors who use this technique and the fallen leaves look gorgeous on the lawn. Nothing wrong with combining laziness and beauty, is there?

– A reminder on the hamstring stretch! The safest way to stretch the hamstring is when you are sitting or lying down. The hamstrings are postural stabilizers, so when you are standing, some fibers are always firing to keep your balance. Firing muscle fibers means the are contracted. And guess what can happen when you stretch tissues that are contracting? You can massage your hamstrings by squishing them together with both hands, like squishing bread dough. Or, you can grab them with one hand, and rotate the muscle around the bone (as though you are stretching the muscles in a C shape). Self-massage of the hamstrings are tricky, so getting a professional massage is a great alternative.

To my snowbird friends, may you have a wonderful winter in the South.

PS – The City is selling swim passes at a reduced rate for trick-or-treaters. Stop by your local rec centre to pick some up for the kids.


Leave a Reply