Don’t be a couch potato – use the time during commercial breaks to fight flab
Got a day where you’re glued to the tube? You’re not alone. American women spend, on average, more than five hours a day watching TV.
But you can use that time wisely by taking advantage of commercial breaks to fight flab. Try some of these calorie-blasting moves to work in a workout without having to stray too far from the couch:
- Sets of stairs – Channel those glory days and pretend you’re running bleachers at the stadium; race the kids, take steps two at a time, or even go backwards (but hold onto the rail!)
- Jog in place – Alternate “high knees” and “butt-kicks” (heels to your behind) and play with different patterns and speed intervals
- Jumping jacks – Traditional doesn’t have to be boring; start with 30 seconds in the standard stance, and then add in sets of “squat-jacks” (keep legs bent) for an added challenge
- Show off your chops – Unleash aggression by kicking, punching, jabbing and pummeling away with a series of martial arts-inspired moves
- Get hardcore – Pop a squat on the floor and alternate sets of these moves: Bicycle (cycle legs in the air), plank (push-up position on your elbows), superman (belly on the floor, arms and legs raised) and crunches
- Flex appeal – Grab the nearest weighted object (milk gallon, soup can, exercise band, small child) and alternate sets of bicep curls, chair dips, side/front shoulder raises and overhead shoulder presses
- Pump yourself up – You can’t go wrong with basic upper-body-building moves such as push-ups (alternate hand position), lawnmowers (add weight for more effect) and pull-ups (get a doorway bar or use the kids’ jungle gym!)
- Get down with it – Work your way to a better bottom half with calf raises (alternate where your toes point every set – out, forward and in), squats and lunges in place (ok, walking lunges to the fridge and back count, too)
- Dance-off – Challenge your friends to a competition where you see who can choreograph the best mid-commercial dance moves
- Stretch it out – Wrap up with this important, but oft-overlooked part of every regimen. Simple positions, held for 30-60 seconds each, help to ease sore, tense muscles and increase range of motion while enhancing circulation and coordination
Spring is in the air, and there’s no better way to kick off a healthy start to the season than by getting some new gear, revamping your diet and freshening up that stale winter workout routine. Here are six tips to get you started.
- Set your baseline. Only about 20 percent of Americans get an annual check-up, but it’s critical to keep tabs on things like blood pressure, cholesterol and vitamin deficiencies before diving into any new workout program.
- Shake things up. The best way to bust out of a rut is to turn an old habit on its head; swap evening sweat sessions for early morning exercise, try playing with portioning instead of calorie counting, etc.
- Clean out the fridge. Toss old, expired items, then keep a critical eye out for anything low in nutritional value (soda, processed meats, ice cream). And while you’re at it, raid the cupboards to rid yourself of unhealthy holiday leftovers.
- Try a new workout. Now’s the perfect time to pick a new program that will really challenge your body and prevent plateauing. But keep it simple; if you subsist solely on cardio, add some weight training – or start a 60- or 90-day program, such as Les Mills Combat, for example.
- Commit to a race. Adding a goal gives workouts a greater purpose than losing weight or fitting into skinny jeans. Research local road races, and start with a beginner-friendly 5K distance (see Cool Running’s Couch-to-5K program here for inspiration)
- Get some new gear. Spring is also a great time to update your workout wardrobe. Replace worn-out items with shorts, tanks and tees in breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics. And don’t overlook sports bras, which only have a life span of about six months.
Find your workday zen: Stretching at your desk at regular intervals relieves tension and tight muscles
If you’re pressed for time – or just not feeling the gym – there’s still hope for staying in shape despite a hectic weekly schedule. Read on for 10 tips for incorporating a focus on fitness into your work day.
- Eat breakfast: A healthy day at the office starts before you leave the house. Eating breakfast not only stokes metabolic fires and staves off late-day junk food binges, but it also improves concentration, allowing you to tackle mid-morning challenges with ease.
- Step to it: Forget about jockeying for the spot closest to the door; instead, park across the lot and hoof it in. It adds mere minutes to your commute, but walking those few extra steps burns calories, gets blood pumping and charges you up for the day ahead.
- Take the stairs: Unless you’re in a skyscraper (no, three floors does not count), taking a few flights up and down is a great way to bookend your workday with exercise. Bonus points for storming the stairwell at lunch and during bathroom breaks!
- Forgo the phone: Tempted to send a quick email or call that colleague down the hall? Let your legs do the walking instead of your fingers, and you’ll burn some calories and make a healthy face-to-face connection.
- Make errands work for you: Set your trash walking-distance from your desk, go to the printer at the end of the aisle, hit the mail room once a day, etc. Forcing yourself to get up at intervals throughout the day is good for both mind and body.
- Brown bag it: Save time, money and calories by packing your own lunch. Sure, it takes a few minutes each weekend to portion out five days of healthy meals, but it pays off when you’ve got a nutritious and delicious grab-and-go meal to ward off the afternoon slump.
- Eat, then hit the street: Enjoy your lunch, but use the second half of the hour to get outside, stretch your legs and breathe some fresh air. Taking that time to clear your head allows you to attack the afternoon while others are battling a fast-food coma.
- Stretch it out: Prolonged sitting in front of the computer can be a pain in the neck – literally. Every hour or so, try to take a few minutes to perform some simple desk stretches that can help ease muscle tightness and tension.
- Don’t forget to hydrate: Water is vital to many of the body’s functions, so regular intake of fluid is important throughout the day. And since the brain is 90 percent water, proper hydration leads to better concentration, productivity and alertness.
- Snack smart: Looking for an extra boost between meals? A combo of carbohydrates and protein will help maintain blood sugar levels and stave off cravings, so stock your desk full of fruit, cheese, crackers, nuts and other goodies to avoid the afternoon siren song of the vending machine.