BACK-TO-SCHOOL (exercise) RESET

Yep, that new backpack smell is in the air, which means the rest of the school year ‘new’ is but one crayons and scissors store run away – new routines, new schedules, new commitments, new kinds of busy – all potentially drawing you away from physical activity. Fear not! Use the following to help manage the new so you don’t miss even one power walk or bicep curl. This is the second of a three part series. The first was ‘Take a meeting’ to protect the time you set aside for exercise. This installment is:

-Think ‘instant activity anywhere anyhow’ to ensure daily exercise

INSTANT ACTIVITY ANYWHERE ANYHOW
Alternate title: Never Let a Pair of Yoga Pants Come Between You and Exercise

If only sustaining your exercise routine was as neat and tidy as the gym’s printed class schedule. HA! When unpredictability is the predictable feature of your schedule the time-certain class at the gym may have to go on without you, but this doesn’t mean you can’t exercise.

Activity Commandment number one – thou shall never be dissuaded from doing activity for lack of access to a class or activity-specific clothes.

No way to make it to yoga? No yoga pants? NO worries! Boldly Downward Doggie where you can wearing what you want – adopt the ‘Anywhere Anyhow’ approach to activity. Make wherever you are your gym, whatever you have on your gym clothes and whatever form of movement you CAN do your class. Not to hurt the feelings of step class or Pilates or your trainer, it’s PHYSICAL ACTIVITY that uniquely and profoundly fosters life quality, so its PHYSICAL ACTIVITY you need to do no matter how raw the form, how strange the outfit or how unusual the location.

‘Anywhere Anyhow’ ground rules:

 ‘Organic’ activity (park-get out of car-walk) can be just as healthful as group fitness class. Some days it isn’t going to be how it’s depicted in magazines – whatever!

 Even in its most organic form – walking in the parking lot or up and down stairs at work – some activity is always better than no activity, and all the activity you do counts toward your Iron Footprint (accumulation of activity), the deeper which the better your life quality. If you don’t have 40 minutes make the most of the 10 you DO have.

 Engage at moderate-vigorous intensity. Move with enough pace to raise your heart rate into its training zone.*

 Your gabardine blend slacks and Pima cotton blouse accented by a pair of sturdy gym shoes IS perfectly appropriate activity attire. If push comes to shove and you don’t have time to change, protect the precious time you do have (to push and shove) by wearing what you are wearing. Just smile if you get a look from your dry cleaner.

WHERE to move
Think natural geography, and use locations that are already part of your day: parking lots, halls at work, stairwells, soccer/baseball field after dropping your child to practice, the playground.

HOW to move
Think impromptu and raw activity: walk, jump rope, do step-ups on curbs or sturdy raised platforms, use playground equipment – pull-ups on monkey bars, dips on benches, step-ups on benches, squats to dip under low-hanging bars, attach stretch bands to structures for resistance training.

A special note about stair climbing – stairmasters / stairmills remain gym staples because they effectively foster cardiovascular fitness and leg strength, and burn energy. Take advantage of the native forms of these manufactured machines and take the stairs whenever you can, and/or do step-ups.

It may seem awkward at first, but like anything practice makes perfect and in no time you will be able to establish a ‘routine’ for each of your haunts – day-care drop off, the grocery store, work hallways/stairwells, the practice field park. It will also become easy to spot the parking spaces farthest away rather than closest to your destination.

Last, have the following items close at hand, e.g., in your car trunk, to ensure you are best prepared for ‘instant activity,’ climate-necessary boots or waterproof shoes, jump rope, stretch bands, umbrella, small pack/fanny pack to hold keys and phone. Other less-essential but useful items include ipod, gallon milk jugs filled with water to use as weights, and a mat/blanket/large towel.

Sometimes, the biggest barrier to exercise is thinking it’s to be done at a certain time, in a certain way, wearing a certain thing – or not done at all. But it really is as simple as figuring out where and how to move. You may want to think twice about doing jumping jacks at your desk, but only until you get everyone in the office to do them along with you…

*Search heart rate training zone on the internet to access information about determining yours.