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exercise

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8 Ways to Get More Movement Without Exercising

With the health and fitness industry blowing up, there are small boutique fitness facilities popping up everywhere. In San Diego County, you can find small group fitness training (like us), boxing gyms, MMA training facilities, any form of martial arts you’d like, surfing groups, cycling groups, hiking teams, kayaking lessons, dance lessons of all kinds (even pole dancing), and anything else you can think of that is fitness related. You can also find all of them on Groupon or Living Social for a killer deal. Honestly, you can jump from place to place every month paying a fraction of the cost for high level fitness using those sites. But sometimes, even the Groupon rates are too much or you just want ways to get your exercise in on your own schedule or in your own space.

Often times, when we’re ready to start or improve our fitness routines, we tend to think about getting our daily exercise through traditional platforms or gyms, classes, running, swimming, etc. But what if I told you that movement is movement is movement. Working out in a great community of people like we have at Infinitely Fit is fantastic! It’s a great way to make friends, stay accountable and care for your body. However, if you’re anything like me, you need something else that fills you. Something that makes you feel alive and helps you to stay healthy.

Here are the top ways I like to get some movement in my day without actually exercising in the traditional sense.

1.       Summer Concerts in the Park = DANCING!

All over San Diego County (and in many parts of the country), communities host a free summer concert series for the public. There is usually no cost unless you decide to donate to the series. My best friend and I grab the husbands (when they are willing) and teens (because we make them) and trek our way to Coronado almost every Sunday evening in the summer. We set up our food and wine and chat while we people watch. Then, my niece begs me (for like 2 seconds because I’m ready) to go dance with her. We kick off our shoes and dance for easily 30 minutes or more. Now, I am no professional dancer, and I am extremely aware that we are the subjects of other people’s people watching entertainment. Since I am who I am that just fuels the fire of the ridiculous gyrations I call dancing. Depending how hard I am working, I can burn 300-500 calories…an extra glass of wine anyone? Obviously, you don’t have to go anywhere to dance if you have a phone and Pandora. Turn it up and get down!

2.       Exploring the seas

I don’t go often, so I am no pro, but I do like going out and kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. They are fun activities that allow me to not only get some exercise, but also to see the city from a different perspective. I am a city girl, and I love city skylines. Being in the San Diego Bay looking back at the skyline can take me to a different world. These activities can certainly be considered a more traditional form of exercise, but I think if you’re doing it right, it’s just being outside exploring and connecting with nature.

3.       Camping games

When I think camping, I think hanging outside playing games. I’m all about a good game of softball or stickball, but I mean more like corn hole and horseshoes. They are simple games that keep you on your feet and active. You aren’t burning calories at a record burning pace, but it sure as heck beats the calorie burning going on when your greatest ass-et is on the couch.

4.       Physical Challenges

Sometimes my son and I will take out some stability exercise balls and challenge each other to a pose or position. I tend to win because I am overly competitive…don’t feel too sorry for him, he’s 13 and taller than me (and I’m not short!). But you can do anything: Have a long jump competition, play HORSE, balance like a flamingo and try to knock each other over, relay races…the more ridiculous the better because you’ll be laughing and getting a great ab workout.

5.       Balloon play

Along the lines of the Physical challenges, balloon games are a blast and a great way to get your heart rate up. Blow up a few balloons and try to keep them in the air. If that’s too easy, don’t use your hands to keep it afloat. You can use your arms, legs, feet, face, head; just not your hands. If you’re playing with others, each person can only hit it once. If it hits the ground, start the count over. How many times can you hit it without dropping it? Or have two groups and compete. Whatever makes it fun for you- do it!

6.       Anything ball

So I have to give credit to some friends for this one. We met up with my son’s best friend and his family one evening. They are a family of 5, all of the kids are boys. Then the uncle’s family came with 2 more boys, then us. So we have 3 moms and the rest dads and boys. Well, I was the only mom willing to play that day.  I think it’s because it was such a novelty to me and the other 2 have lived with it for years and don’t find it nearly as engaging as my competitive spirit. Here’s how it works: Gather whatever kinds of balls and Frisbees you have and as many people as you’d like. As safely as you possibly can, start kicking, passing and throwing any of the balls or Frisbees that come to you. OK, so it’s a little dangerous. There’s a lot of yelling names and “head up” that happen, but man is it fun. Of course if you’re playing with a bunch of young boys, wrestling matches happen too. There will be no shortage of movement in this ridiculous game.

7.       Recreational League/Pickup Game

Join a recreational league or sign up for a pickup game of a sport you love. With Meet Up, I find all sorts of things to do and try. I play soccer in recreational leagues, but there are also pickup games here and there. Start one yourself if you really want to play something. You don’t even have to be good. Get a kickball game started and invite people out to the park, or even the people hanging around the park. Or go to the beach and ask someone to kick around a soccer ball, play volleyball or throw a Frisbee.

8.       Stretching

I’m not talking a yoga class here. If you take yoga and want to do that on your own- go for it. I am just talking about spending time on your floor while the TV is on and stretching out your joints. Just sitting with your legs wide could be enough. Or maybe you want to stretch those glutes and hamstrings to alleviate low back pain. May you’re sadistic like me and have a foam roller you torture yourself on regularly as you watch your favorite shows.

The point is, exercise doesn’t have to be the mundane, the traditionally prescribed programs we usually picture when we think exercise. It can be exciting without being intense. It will open your mind to moving your body and understanding how it likes to move, and trust me, it LIKES to move!

If you continue to do the same activities repetitively without changing things up some, you put too much wear and tear on your joints (that goes for our kids too). So try something new and different and fun for you. Maybe you find you like it and maybe you find you don’t. Either way, you tried and you now know.  

We’d love to know what it is you decide to do from our list or your own ways to get movement outside of a traditional exercise platform. Leave a comment or send a message!

Happy moving!

-L.J.

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"I've got to get my cool back!"

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"I've got to get my cool back!"

The New Year did not kick star me or bring a new batch of motivation like the many resolution writing hard-chargers out there. It brought me in a little more zen and primed me for energy, but the energy itself is lacking. (I have Eddie Griffin in Undercover Brother in my head right now. “I have got to get my cool back.”)

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Stress & Exercise

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Stress & Exercise

In our fast paced, 21st century world stress is ubiquitous; everyone experiences it.

3,000 years ago, our ancestors dealt with stress, but the sources of their stress were very different than they are today. While being chased by a lion or having to run after your own dinner sounds pretty stressful, these were immediate stressors that were quickly resolved.

Once they were safe and their dinner was caught, our ancestors didn’t worry about impending deadlines, rush-hour traffic, mortgage payments or getting the kids to school on time. These stressors that you deal with every day are more chronic in nature – and they’re slowly causing your physical and mental health to deteriorate.

Physiological Response to Stress

Your body has a pretty incredible stress response. When you step out in front of a car your brain immediately receives a distress signal. It increases your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. It tells your liver to dump glucose into your blood stream, causing blood sugar to skyrocket. It releases cortisol, the “gas” that keeps your stress response revving.

In the event of a lion chasing you, this response is incredibly adaptive. It allows you to mobilize your energy stores and react as efficiently as possible.

In the face of chronic stressors, this response becomes maladaptive and downright harmful. Chronically high rates of cortisol can have disastrous effects on your physical and mental health. 

Consequences of Long-Term Stress

Chronic stress is akin to your body believing that a lion is chasing after you all the time. Prolonged stress can wreak havoc on all of your body’s systems. Some of the effects include:

  • Cardiovascular complications

  • Psychological disorders including anxiety and depression

  • Digestive issues and headaches

  • Muscle tension and tightness

  • Weight gain

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Concentration and memory problems

When you’re feeling overburdened the last thing you want to do is add another activity to your to-do list. But exercise should be the one activity you make time to pencil in.

While exercise will take some time out of your day, it has clear stress-reduction benefits make it a no-brainer when battling chronic stress.

How Exercise Helps

There are a variety of ways exercise can be helpful in reducing stress levels. Specifically exercise:

Exercise can be a powerful, natural aid in the reduction of stress. However, a principle I’ve been working to better understand and practice is “your body cannot differentiate stressors.”

What does that mean?

Whether you’re cramming for a midterm, giving a presentation at work, running sprints at your local track or being chased by a lion, your body doesn’t know the difference and frankly, it doesn’t care.

This means that as much as exercise can help with stress, it can also hurt. In fact, long-term over exercise has symptoms very similar to chronic stress.

How to use Exercise to your Advantage

If exercise can improve and worsen stress, how do you ensure that you are exercising in a beneficial way? When you’re feeling burnt out, focus on these exercise tips to ensure your getting the most stress busting bang for your buck.

  • Low-moderate intensity. When stressed, you don’t want to exercise in a way that puts a ton of additional strain on your body. Include gentler forms of exercise like walking, jogging, yoga, and light cycling or strength training. Not sure what light to moderate means? Use the talk test. If you can still manage to hold a conversation you’re doing it right

  • Frequency>intensity or duration. The effects of an exercise session on stress are immediate. The more often you can incorporate exercise the more likely it is to have an accumulative effect on your overall stress levels

  • Include Deep breathing – Take deep, steady breaths at the beginning, end and periodically throughout your exercise sessions, focusing on the sensation of feeling your lungs expand and contract with air.

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation This technique is best done at the end of a session (and can be done when not exercising) and includes contracting then releasing each major muscle, working from your head down.

  • Finish Strong. I’m not talking about eking out one more set of push-ups or stair sprints, here. I’m referring to finishing strong with your mind. End your session with a few deep breaths and a quick stretch. This is a great way to ensure you leave your exercise session feeling refreshed and relaxed, instead of more wound up.

While stress is an inevitable part of modern life, exercise can help reduce the havoc it wreaks on your body and mind. If you’ve been avoiding exercise because you feel you’re simply too busy, commit to including some of these practices 2-3 days a week. Incorporating physical activity will help you de-stress and improve your health, happiness and peace of mind.

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Exercise to Fight Depression

By Kelsey Brown

It’s 6:00 am. Your alarm is blaring, beckoning you to begin your day. You roll over and hit the snooze button, unable to sleep but not yet ready to summon the strength to get out of bed. Your low back throbs and you hardly slept all night.     

You lie there, contemplating whether or not you should even get out of bed at all. You have a good job and a wonderful family and yet, you can’t figure out why you are so unhappy. So tired. So unsatisfied.

Depression is a debilitating disease affecting at least 6.7% of the U.S. population.

It is associated with low self-esteem, pervasive feelings of guilt and worthlessness and a loss of interest and pleasure. Depression, with its multiple contributing factors, can sneak up on you when your life is going horribly wrong or when it’s going perfectly well.

If you’ve ever experienced a bout of depression, you know how crushing the disease can be. It is as if your whole life, your every action, is being weighed down by a boulder that is built entirely of your own misery.  

Depression comes with other negative side effects such as physical pain, poor sleep, weight gain, social withdrawal and higher risks of substance abuse and chronic disease. Thus depression is cyclical and self-promoting; its symptoms serve to deepen the disease.  

So what does exercise have to do with this? We know that exercise is impactful in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease and Diabetes, but what can it do for depression?

As it turns out, quite a lot.

Research has found that individuals who report the lowest levels of activity have the highest levels of depression. Other research reveals that as societal levels of physical activity have decreased, rates of depression have gone up and multiple studies using exercise as a treatment for depression have shown promising results.

How Exercise Helps

There are a few key explanations for how exercise helps to prevent and reduce depression.

  • Exercise increases feel-good hormones called endorphins that may be low in people suffering from depression. This is the idea behind the famous “runners high.”

  • Exercise has been shown to boost self-esteem, something that is characteristically low in depression sufferers.

  • Exercise can improve sleep, which can help to break the cycle of depression.

  • Exercise can serve as a coping or distraction strategy.

  • Exercise can be a great way to allow for social interaction in individuals whose disease may limit this.

And the benefits of exercise exist independent of changes in fitness. That means you don’t have to lose 20 pounds or run a sub 7-minute mile to experience the mood-enhancing benefits.

However, there’s one little problem with this whole exercise to beat the blues idea...

When you’re depressed you don’t really want to get out of bed, let alone lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement.

How then, can you find ways to use exercise to help you overcome depression?

Practical Strategies for using Exercise to Beat Depression: 

  • Start small. Build exercise into your daily regimen slowly. 5-10 minutes at a time is a great starting point.  

  • Anything counts. You don’t have to run 5 miles or enroll at your nearest Cross Fit.  Any movement, be it walking, dancing, roller blading or even gardening will do. Focus on finding activities that you enjoy instead of forcing yourself to exercise in ways you think you should.

  • Frequency > intensity. Exercise that is comfortable and enjoyable is most likely to yield results. Low to moderate intensity exercise done daily is better than high intensity exercise done a few times a week (don’t discount walking – it has a ton of mental and physical health benefits)

  • Exercise with others. This is a great way to increase your social interaction and build feelings of camaraderie and support

  • Exercise the body and mind. Work mindfulness practices into your exercise sessions to reap maximum benefits. This can include deep breathing, and stretching. I love to finish my exercise sessions with a few minutes of deep breathing and checking in to see how my body feels.

  • Reflect. Exercise can be especially powerful in treating depression when you reflect on your experience and accomplishments after each exercise session. This can be done in your head or written down 

  • Combine with other forms of treatment. In many cases, exercise cannot act as a stand-alone treatment for depression. Consider combining exercise with CBT or antidepressant therapy. You can even look into alternative treatments such as vitamins and supplements or acupuncture.

There have been times in my own life where I struggled through periods of deep depression. Exercise was, and is, an integral part of my healing process.

Committing to taking action towards overcoming your pain can be a powerful strengthening process. Exercise is an excellent step that you can take today. It requires no money (beyond the cost of a pair of shoes) or resources and delivers immediate and cumulative benefits.  

If you’re struggling with depression, begin building small increments of exercise into your daily schedule (remember – walking counts!). This small habit, when repeated consistently, can have a profound effect on your happiness and quality of life.

 

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Spring Break = Spring Training

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Spring Break = Spring Training

Are you home with the kids this week? Does that stop you from getting to the gym? Then I hope you're ready for Spring Training? Athletes do it, why not you?! Can you complete this one week workout plan? I bet you can! It's challenging and it won't be easy, but it IS doable. Remember, you need to make this work for you- that means modify, increase what you can, decrease what you must, but DON'T - GIVE -UP! **Virtual high-five** 

Each day, spend 5-8 minutes warming up your muscles so you don't injury yourself. Then, it's GO TIME!

DAY 1: 

Sally Squats:
Play this song
Go up and down in the squat when instructed by the song
(Use weights and go deep if you can)
Rest 30s then repeat 3
INSERT STAPLES BUTTON HERE: "THAT WAS EASY" What's Day 2?

DAY 2:

50 Air squats
10 Burpees
40 Sit ups
10 Burpess
30 Walking lunges
10 Burpees 
20 Push ups
10 Burpees
10 Pull ups or Chair Dips
10 Burpees
20 Push ups
10 Burpees
30 Walking lunges
10 Burpees
40 Sit ups
10 Burpees
50 squats

I CAN DO THIS!

DAY 3:

Active Rest day. Today, spend about 30 minutes getting your heart rate up in a fun way.
Walk or Jog around neighborhood, Hike, Swim, Play a sport, Do something active!

I'M READY FOR DAY 4!

DAY 4:

Fight Gone Body
1 minute each, 3 rounds

Push ups
Squats
Burpees
Pull ups
Sit ups
Rest

Repeat 3Xs or more!

THAT'S ALL YA GOT, DAY 4?! 

DAY 5: 

Active Rest day. Today, spend about 30 minutes getting your heart rate up in a fun way.
Walk or Jog around neighborhood, Hike, Swim, Play a sport, Do something active!

DAY 6: 

Deck of Cards

Shuffle the deck, then flip over the top card to reveal your exercise based on the card number (Face cards are worth 10 reps, Aces are 11 reps)  and the suit using the key below:
Spades = Squats
Hearts = Burpees
Diamonds = Pushups
Clubs = Situps

8 of clubs would be 8x sit-ups, 6 of hearts 6x burpees, etc.

BRING IT ON DAY 7!

DAY 7:

In succession, no rest till the end.

25 Burpees
25 Plank Jacks
25 Mountain climbers
25 Crunches
25 Heel Touchers
25 V sit ups

Rest 30s
Repeat. How many rounds can you knock out in 25 minutes?

If you made it through this workout week, you're definitely ready for Health Defense Challenge! Make sure you check us out!

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Workouts provided by Andrew Beof


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