Focus on Fitness

Whether you’ve just started to think about beginning a fitness program or you are already committed to fitness but are no longer able to go to the gym, you may be looking for ways to tone up at home. This can be especially important if you’ve been working from home during the pandemic and don’t have access to ergonomic office furniture. Fortunately, you don’t need to invest in large, expensive fitness equipment. A few simple guidelines and some inexpensive, portable items can help you meet your goals.

Your Fitness Program

A well-rounded fitness program should incorporate aerobic activity, strength training, core exercises, balance training, and stretching and flexibility.
• Aerobic activity causes you to breathe faster and deeper, which increases both the amount of oxygen in your blood and the blood flow to your muscles.
• Strength training improves muscular fitness and bone strength, and it may help you manage your weight.
• Core exercises strengthen the muscles in your back, abdomen, and pelvis—your core muscles—so they are better able to protect your back and coordinate your upper and lower body movements.
• Balance training can benefit everyone, because it helps stabilize core muscles, but it is particularly important for older adults to help prevent falls, which can lead to fractures.
• Stretching and flexibility improve range of motion, making it easier to perform everyday tasks.

Fitness Aids

A few simple aids can make your fitness program more comfortable and more effective.
Yoga mats can help stabilize your position and cushion your body, not just when doing yoga and Pilates, but also when you are doing other floor exercises as well. When choosing a yoga mat, consider its thickness—too thin and it won’t provide enough protection; too thick and it may not make you feel stable. Texture is also important; the mat must provide a stable grip, or you may slide and risk possible injury.
Resistance bands are stretchable elastic bands that are used both in fitness routines and in physical therapy programs. A resistance band is used to contract muscles, which builds strength. When looking for resistance bands, choose ones that are long enough to accommodate the movements in your routine. A band that is too long can usually be shortened, but one that is too short may not be able to be adapted.
Walking weights can help you get more benefit from your walk. Carrying weights can increase heart rate and burn more calories, but heavier isn’t always better. It is important to carry weights that aren’t so heavy that they change your gait.

Foam rollers are versatile pieces of equipment that can help in many ways. Slowly rolling them over various areas of your body can massage deep tissue, break up scar tissue and adhesions (abnormal sticking together of tissues), and speed recovery after a workout. Placing your hands on a foam roller while doing total body exercises such as push-ups creates an uneven surface and engages more core muscles. Foam rollers can also be used to enhance a variety of balance exercises.

As the old saying goes: “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” Don’t put it off – start now to focus on fitness.

Read other articles in our Fall-Winter 2021 volume of our Bettercare magazine here.

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