By Carlee Frank
We are officially into the second month of the New Year. February is the month of love, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner; it also contains National Freedom Day, Groundhog Day and even National Nutella Day –but you know what else? February is going to be the month that you commit to a healthy lifestyle! We’re eating healthier, exercising our bodies, stretching and learning mindfulness. Step by step, your body will start craving nutritious foods, it will itch to feel the burn of a good workout and your joints will be looser. Stay dedicated— we’re in this together!
We’ve already figured out how to make time for exercise, so now we must decide which form of exercise fits you best. Since the 1950s, the exercise movement has birthed numerous methods, such as Jazzercise, speed-walking and trampoline training. Nowadays, we see HIIT, CrossFit, weight-training, yoga, Pilates and more marathons and 5ks than I can count.
First, it is important to remember that everyone’s body is different. Some people love running, and others get shin splints one mile in; some are built to lift weights and others prefer yoga. No matter your preference, don’t feel discouraged and don’t compare yourself to others –this is your fitness journey, and it is wonderful!
Now, onto high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is bursts of high-intensity cardio with quick rest periods in between. For example, one minute of mountain climbers and 15 seconds of rest, followed immediately by one minute of squat jumps and 15 seconds of rest, and so on. Time magazine said, “a few minutes of HIIT seem to be as effective as much longer periods of moderate-paced running, cycling, swimming or other forms of traditional cardio.” It is a quick way to elevate your heart rate, improve aerobic capacity and burn fat.
Weight-training, on the other hand, is not meant to induce a cardio burn, but instead uses weights to improve muscle tone and overall physique. The Mayo clinic said, “Weight provides a stress to the muscles that causes them to adapt and get stronger.” So, if your goal is to increase your strength or improve muscle tone, weight-training is for you. However, I would advise that you start slow, ask for guidance and make sure you use proper form. Lifting heavy weights can lead to serious injury, therefore, proper form –such as aligned hips, tight core and correct foot placement –is vital.
Pilates, originally called Body Contrology, was developed by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 1900s. Pilates is a total body conditioning exercise method combining flexibility and strength from both Eastern and Western cultures (Fitour). I am a certified Pilates instructor and I often say that Pilates is yoga in motion. It utilizes positions that require flexibility and or strength to maintain, and then adds sets and repetition. Participants may hold a plank and add leg raises, or complete a shoulder bridge and add pulses. Pilates can target specific muscle groups, teach total body awareness, improve breathing and cardiovascular health, and lead to better muscle tone.
Last, but not least, is running. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that, “even five to 10 minutes a day of low-intensity running is enough to extend life by several years, compared with not running at (Harvard Medical School).” Running can dramatically decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, burn fat, boost cartilage and even improve mood. Most importantly, anyone can run –no matter their age. In fact, Joy Johnson ran the 2016 NYC Marathon at 84 years old.
There are many more forms of exercise, so I urge you to experiment, research and talk to friends until you find your perfect match. Everyone is different, but everyone should move their bodies to stay healthy. If you have any questions or need further inspiration, email me at CjFitness1001@gmail.com.
Next week, we will discuss the importance of hydration and explore hacks to help you drink enough water.