Keep exercising during the cooler months

by Jill Fleming, MS, RD/LD

March is National Nutrition Month. Yes, eating healthy is very important, but it is only part of the equation.  Healthy lifestyles include getting plenty of sleep, keeping stress low, eating healthy and exercising your body most days of the week. The cooler weather in Iowa during early spring months sometimes makes it difficult to get outside to exercise, but have you considered one of the several ways you could exercise indoors?

“Sitting is the new smoking” is a popular expression.  According to a January study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, sedentary time is associated with a higher risk for certain diseases and mortality. If you spend the majority of your day sitting, you will want to make a point to stand up at least once per hour and maybe do a few simple exercises. In addition to decreasing your risk for disease, standing burns 30% more calories than sitting, so it may help with weight loss too.

Going to the gym or Wellness Center to exercise is an option, but if you don’t have a membership or want to exercise at home, here are a few options:

1. Marching in Place: Marching in place is a low-impact exercise that burns calories without the risk of injury. Add arm circles as you march to increase your heart rate and caloric burn. This is an easy option that most people can safely do in their own home.
2. Stair Stepping: Stair stepping is a great exercise to do at home.  You can just walk up and down your stairs. If you don’t have a set of stairs, you can use a sturdy step stool.  Put the step stool in front of the TV and step up and down while watching your favorite show.
3. Jumping Jacks: Everyone learned how to do jumping jacks in elementary school. It is still a great cardio workout. Plan to do a few jumping jacks during a commercial break.
4. Dancing: Have a dance party in your living room.  Just put on some good music and freestyle dance.  You will be having so much fun; you may forget you are exercising!
5. Do a Plank: If you want to build your core muscles, but don’t have a lot of time, consider doing a plank. Get into push-up position, but hold your arms extended and straight.  Start off holding the position for 30 seconds, adding an additional 10 seconds each day.
6. High Knees: Start out marching in place, or marching down the hallway, then bring each knee up as high as you can. This exercise really gets your heart pumping. 
7. Milk Jug Weights: If you want to do some muscle toning, fill two empty milk jugs with water or sand.  These are excellent hand weights for your toning.  Feel free to fill them as full as you like.
8. Cleaning: Cleaning can be very physical, especially vacuuming and mopping.
9. YouTube Workouts or an Exercise Video: Doing an exercise video at home or following along with a YouTube instructor makes exercise time go really fast. Search the work “workout” or the name of a specific type of exercise, such as “yoga”.
10. “Squeezies” aka Isometric Toning: isometric toning is strength training where the joints and muscles don’t actually move, but the specific muscle contraction is tightened and held. You can tone everything from your stomach to your biceps with isometric toning.

Working out at home during the cooler Iowa spring months can keep you healthy without the expense or hassle of driving to a gym. If you don’t want to work out at home, head to the local Wellness Center for some indoor power-walking with friends.  Always remember to at least stand up and move around for a few minutes every hour if you tend to be a sedentary person or work a desk job.

For more information, or to make an appointment for a consultation, call dietitian Jill Fleming at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon at 563-568-3411.

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