Exercise at home during stormy weather

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Fit for Life by Jeanine Achin

Fit for Life
by Jeanine Achin

It is challenging this winter to stay in shape with multiple feet of snow on the ground. However, it is still vital that we all do so.

Even if you are housebound and unable to do your regular workouts (although I keep seeing people running down the middle of snow covered roads, dodging skidding cars – talk about dedication), you can keep in shape without the risk of colliding with a snowplow. Here are several great exercises to do at home.

First there are push-ups, a tried and true excellent exercise that works your chest, shoulders, arms and core muscles. Keep your body in a straight line at all times. Push-ups can be done the traditional military way. Less strenuous but still effective push-ups can be done on your knees, on a chair or against a wall. Work up to 30 repetitions.

While you are doing those, you can stop and hover when your arms are extended, which is an excellent abdominal exercise. Be sure to breathe as you hover. You can perform the hover at any time as a separate exercise, holding the straight position for up to one minute.

For your lower body the best exercise is squats, which work your quadriceps at the front of your legs and the gluteus muscles at the back. You can hold weights to make this exercise more powerful. The most important thing is to sink into your heels, pushing your buttocks behind you as if you were going to sit on a chair.

In fact, you can sit in a chair and stand back up as a modification, or put your back against a wall sliding up and down the wall for balance. The angle at your knee joint should never be less than 90 degrees meaning that your thighs should be no lower than parallel to the floor. Your knees should stay in line with your ankles and not protrude in front or to either side of your toes. The magic number for repetitions again is 30.

One area we often forget to work is our backs. It is important to keep the muscles on the front and back of your body in balance. Good back exercises are the upright and dead rows. To perform those, you will need weights. If you don’t have hand weights, use cans or bottles filled with fluid such as laundry detergent.

Dead row: Start in a standing position with flexed knees and tight abdominals, lean forward dropping the weights toward the floor with straight arms. Your buttocks push backward as you do that. Now pull the weights into the sides of your stomach then straighten your arms, dropping the weights toward the floor and return to a standing position. That counts as one repetition — do 29 more. If you have any back issues, the upright row will be a better choice for you.

Upright row: In a standing position with slightly flexed knees and the weights in your hands hanging at your sides, bring the weights to a height of mid-chest by bending your arms and leading with your elbows. You should feel your shoulder blades lift and squeeze together. Bring the weights back to starting position and, you got it, do 29 more repetitions.

Those exercises are for strength, so you should also consider aerobic activity – marching or dancing through the house, walking up and down a flight of stairs in 10-minute intervals, striving for three sets. There are also DVDs and YouTube programs you can follow if you would like more structure. When the snow finally melts, you will have a spring in your step to match the spring weather.

Jeanine Achin is a district executive director for the YMCA of Greater Providence. Contact her at (401) 521-70155, extension 109, or jachin@gpymca.org.

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