It’s already the end of January. February is just one short week away, and for many of us, the weather outside is frightful. The cold, dark days combined with the wicked winter weather can wreak havoc on our plans to get fit and stay fit. Besides, swim suit season doesn’t seem quite as threatening when we’re buried under a snow bank, so it might be more tempting to kick back with a cup of hot cocoa rather than leaving the house to go to the gym or fitness class.
However, you don’t even have to leave the house to stay on track with an exercise program. After all, swim suit season will be here before you know it. So, before you slip into a hot cocoa coma, here are a few simple fit tips that you can easily do at home to help keep you fit and healthy.
1). Get on the ball. If you don’t have one yet, get a large exercise ball. If you do have one, start using it. Sit and gently bounce on the ball intermittently during the day to improve your posture, balance, stimulate circulation and strengthen your low back and abdominal muscles. You may be surprised to discover that just a few minutes a day on the ball can make a huge improvement in your strength and flexibility.
2). Why weight? A resistance program will shape and tone your muscles. Invest in a set of light weights to use while sitting on your ball to strengthen the muscles of your arms, chest, upper back, and shoulders. You can use your weights in sitting and/or standing, but sitting on the ball challenges your balance, posture, and strengthens your core muscles even more.
3). What goes up must come down; make the most of it. You’re going to get up and down multiple times a day anyway, so why not make the most of it? Every time you get up and down from a chair or the couch, slow down and do several repetitions to strengthen your legs, hips and buttocks. Remember to pull your lower abdominals in to further strengthen your core muscles. The slower you move, the more benefit you will get from each repetition. However, it isn’t the number of repetitions that you do, it’s the quality of the movement that builds strength and tones muscles.
4). It’s time to clean up your act. While doing household chores, slow down and really focus on the quality of your movements as you work. The simple act of cleaning the house then turns into an opportunity to improve your gait, balance, strength, flexibility, posture, body awareness and body mechanics. It’s almost like a moving meditation practice.
5). Shake it up and try something new and different to add to your fitness routine. Nothing kills your enthusiasm for exercise like boredom. Now is the time to try that dance, yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi class you have been always meaning to try. Any of those will help balance your energy as well as your body. It will also add an extra element of interest to your fitness program that will prevent it from turning into a “routine” that becomes boring and tedious. Besides, you will learn movement patterns that you can easily practice at home to keep you fit and healthy.
6). The more the merrier. Recruit a friend so you can encourage and support each other to stay focused on your goals to get fit and stay fit. It also helps to stick with a program if you have someone to be accountable to, and it makes working out a social experience as well as a physical one.
These are just a few suggestions. Just a few minutes of exercise each and every day can have a huge, positive impact on your strength, flexibility, overall health and fitness. Small, simple changes that you can implement at home can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Use your imagination to see if you can find a way to design a program for yourself that is fun, playful, and interesting. That is the key to success, not just during the dark days of winter, but all year long as well. The possibilities are endless!