Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fitness for lazy and frugal. Part 4. Inexpensive pieces of equipment for great use.

1 September 2009

Hi there! It's me Svetlana again.

I my last post I promised I would talk more about specific types of exercises (both aerobic and strength) that do not require much stamina (so it cooperates well with laziness) and need a minimum amount of cheap equipment, or no equipment at all. They are great for both beginners (even the most out-of-shape) and intermediate levels.

-Great aerobic exercise in addition to (or instead of) walking or jogging is rope jumping! Rope is very cheap at any sports stop. It's much more energy consuming than walking or jogging, of course, and requires pretty good joints. Do not do it if you have problems with your back, hips, or knees. Otherwise, if you want to sweat and have a short, but intense workout, jump!

-Another inexpensive choice of aerobic exercise would be badminton, volleyball, or Frisbee (if you have somebody to play with you). Honestly, Frisbee does not need a partner: just throw it and run or walk to pick it up.

- I also like to add running up long flights of steps whenever I see them when I take a walk (a museum steps, a bridge overpass, etc.).

-As far as strength exercises, you may do them or not do them, it's up to you. If you are just a beginner to this entire exercise thing, you may decide to get your routine going first with walking (aerobic exercise) and then gradually add some easy strength exercises. Some resistance/weight/strength exercises are needed to be toned, to get leaner, and to strengthen your bones. Do not overdo. Forget about "no pain-no gain" philosophy. Remember: our goal to keep exercising for life, so everything you do has to be pleasurable.

Even though you don't really need any equipment at all to add strength exercises to the aerobic workouts (because one can do it by using her own body weight), I decided to get a few cheap things so I can vary my routine frequently to avoid boredom.

I suggest the following inexpensive equipment for your at home workouts (all of it or any of it would be great!):

1. A set of inexpensive dumbells (from 2-5lbs to...whatever you can lift). My heaviest are 20 lbs. I got them at "Dick's Sporting Goods" store.

2. A medicine ball. I have a 12 lbs one, but you can use either 8 lbs or 10 lbs just as well. I got it at "Dick's Sporting Goods" store.

3. Inflatable stability ball according to your height, one is enough (check in the store for your size). I got it at "Dick's Sporting Goods" store.

4. A balance trainer. I got it at "Dick's Sporting Goods" store.

5. A set of resistance bands or tubes. I recommend several resistance levels, from low to high (I skip low usually). I got them at "Dick's Sporting Goods" store.

6. A hula-hoop (I have a heavy 5 lbs one, which massages your belly when you rotate it, sort of breaks the belly fat. It looks like the one on this picture). I got it on this web site http://www.sports-hoop.com/

7. A yoga mat for floor exercise and stretching. I got it at "Dick's Sporting Goods" store.

8. A jumping rope for alternative aerobic training. I also got it at "Dick's Sporting Goods".

This is practically all I can think of. Again, you may chose not to get anything at all, and you will be fine, because you can get your arms defined by doing push-ups, your legs toned by doing squats and lounges, and your core strong by logging in crunches. The choice is totally yours. I am just giving ideas.

The most important thing I want you to understand: if you are not interested in becoming a serious athlete or a bodybuilder, there should be NO SCHEDULE involved, no sets or reps counted, no certain sequence of exercises followed. This is all about fun and LOCOMOTION. Locomotion should be our mantra for life. Forget about science and physiology. Keep moving, as much as you can, and you will be in shape. Keep MOTION going! You feel like walking--walk, stretching resistance bands -- stretch (do not count reps and record sets!), want to do crunches -- go ahead! Vary, mix and match, do whatever, just do it. When to stop? Whenever you body gets enough, it will tell you. DO NOT EVER OVERDO IT. Over exercising, especially at the beginning, may result in the failure of the whole "become an exerciser for life” idea. You don't want to be sore, you don't want you back or you knees to be sore, you don't want to pull your back or sprain your ankle. You don't want to skip several days of walking because your legs hurt so much from squats that you can not walk to the bathroom.

I did it once, trust me. I over exercised my calf muscles so much at the gym that I was not able to shave my legs in the shower next morning: it hurt to slide a shaving blade against the skin! I also had to sleep on my belly for several nights with my legs uncovered: it hurt too much to sleep on my back (calves touching the bed) or to cover legs with a blanket (calves touching the blanket). Finally I was not able to walk wearing flats and had to wear heels even at home. When I had flats on, I walked like I was doing cross-country skiing: with my knees half-bent and feet parallel to the floor. You did not want to see me those days! My family almost died laughing when they so me like this, but to me it was not funny at all.

In my next post I will cover what basic moves you can try with al this stuff at home, have fun without over stressing your body, and get some strength workout benefits at the same time.

Good night.


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