Big Props for the Park -6 Exercises Using a Park Bench

In honor of the start of fall, I want to give props to the park bench.
Here are a few ideas to get a great workout without having to go any farther than your neighborhood park:
1. Bench jumps
  • Start by squaring up your shoulders to the bench and slightly bending your knees.
  • With both legs, jump up onto the bench and try to land in the same position from which you started.
  • Jump back down to the starting position. That’s one rep.
  • Try to do three sets of 10 jumps to get started.

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2. Incline push-ups

  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the bench, and put your feet back into a plank position.
  • As you do a push-up, make sure to keep your back and neck in line with each other to prevent any strain on your neck.
  • Reverse your position for a more challenging option.

 

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3. Bulgarian split squats

  • Start by facing away from the bench.
  • Move your left foot back and lift it up onto the bench with your right foot still underneath you.
  • Slowly bend your right leg into a 90-degree angle. “Avoid bringing your knee over your toe and turning your hips,” said Kensie Noble, senior in kinesiology and president of Alliance for Health and Fitness Professionals Club.
  • Come back up to your starting position. That’s one rep. Try to finish two sets of 10 on each leg.

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4. Step-ups

  • Face the bench with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Put your right foot onto the bench.
  • As you come to the top, drive your left knee into your chest before stepping back down.
  • Do 10 reps on each leg for three rounds.

 

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5. Side Step-ups

  • Stand parallel to the bench
  • Using your inside leg, step up onto the bench and drive the opposite knee upward.
  • Do 10 step-ups on each leg for three rounds.

6. Tricep Dips

  • Sit on the bench and position your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge of the seat.
  • With your legs extended out in front of you, scoot your butt off the seat so that your hands are the only thing touching the bench.
  • While keeping your back straight and close to the bench, use your arms to slowly lower yourself until your elbows are around a 90-degree angle.
  • Press down into the bench to raise yourself back to the starting position.
  • That’s one rep. Try to complete two sets of 15.

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With all of these exercises, make sure that you are using good form to prevent injuries. Put some headphones in or grab a friend, and go enjoy the great outdoors.

Detoxing Your Body While Losing Baby Fat

I am so excited to welcome Mansi as my guest poster this week. Read on for realistic tips and strategies for detoxing and losing fat.

 

Two days back, while having my usual fruit salad I wondered what could be the difference between fasting and dieting, since I call my monthly detox diet a “fruit fast”.

Just to bring things into perspective, let me tell you, I’m not allowed to fast and considering my present weight, dieting is something I don’t need.

“Fasting is where you shun all kinds of food items and eat only once a day, but in dieting the food items in every meal are restricted to a few basic ones.”

When I think of days like Ramadan, Lent, Yom Kippur, etc. I realize that there is a spiritual element associated with fasting. But that’s not the case with dieting.

We do it just to lose weight.

However, I do it to flush toxins out of my body every month. Beginning each month with a clean slate feels amazing.

That brings me to the nine months of pregnancy, where you get a free ticket to eat whatever you want and are exempted from any kind of judgment on your weight or shape. That’s certainly a bliss.

Although, my source of worry is the toxin build up in the body.

Ideally, one should wait for a 6 month period to begin the postpartum weight loss schedule. And that does make sense. After all, breastfeeding helps you lose weight too.

Still, we want to work on dropping pounds from the day one and get back the body we once owned.

So ladies! Sit tight, for I’m about to tell you three simple steps to get there without having to compromise on your baby’s nutrition or your own health.

Step 1: Get Real

Yeah, you heard me! Get real!

Gulp in this fact that you will not get your pre-pregnancy body back in the exact same measures, unless you are Kim K. So, are you?

I knew it.

Hence, do not push yourself physically or mentally. Keep calm, because what might not happen in 6 months postpartum, will happen in the coming year when you’ll be running around the house to feed your toddler.

Step 2: Go for a Fruit Fasting

As I already told, that’s my personal detox ritual. I stuck to this one after having tried a lot of others like the lemonade detox or green smoothies which always, just always left me craving and lethargic.

How I fruit fast every month, for three consecutive days –

  1. Take fresh seasonal fruits and cut them into cubes. The colorful the platter, the better.
  2. Sprinkle a little salt for taste.
  3. Poke in fork, smell each cube and relish it.
  4. If I feel thirsty, I go for coconut water, which is again detoxifying and nourishing. Plus, it does wonders for my skin and hair. I completely avoid milk or any kind of fats during this time.
  5. I also make it a point to drink at least a big glass of pomegranate juice or ABC miracle drink.

If you try this out, remember not to mix sweet fruits like banana with sour ones like orange and grape, as these interfere with each other’s digestion and end up producing more toxins.

Step 3: Boost the detox and weight loss

I pride myself in calling a yoga devotee and practice it five times a week. Working out regularly would not only make you fitter but would also aid in the elimination of toxic substances.

Here, I’m listing five yoga poses that specifically work towards this.

Pose 1: Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanmuktasana)     Wind Relieving Pose

  1. Begin by lying down on your back. Keep your arms on your sides and body relaxed.
  2. Slowly lift up one leg and bring your bent knee close to your abdomen. In an attempt to do so, if your other knee bends a little bit, it is okay.
  3. Now, raise your arms to hug your bent knee and bring it closer to your chest. Hold your breath and this position for 5-10 seconds. Exhale and release.
  4. Repeat the above steps with the other leg too.

Benefits other than detox – reduction in belly fat

Pose 2: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) Cobra Pose

  1. Lie down on your stomach and relax till you are able to breathe normally.
  2. When you are comfortable, fold both your arms to place your hands just below your shoulders.
  3. As you inhale, push down the floor and lift up your torso in air like a snake. Remember to keep your toes lying flat on ground with soles facing up.
  4. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds, exhale and release.
  5. Perform it twice every day on an empty stomach.

Benefits other than detox – toned back and stronger arms

Pose 3: Half Lord of fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)Half Lord of fishes Pose

  1. Sit with your legs stretched out in front, back straight, shoulders relaxed and arms on the sides.
  2. Fold your left leg and rest your left foot beneath your right hip.
  3. Now fold your right leg and place your right feet close to your left hip. Your sole should lie flat on floor with knee pointing upwards.
  4. Twist your upper body towards left and try to grab hold of your right ankle with your right hand. Feel a stretch on your right abdomen. Enhance this by taking your left arm back to touch your back.
  5. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds. Exhale and release.
  6. Repeat it on the other side too. Practice it twice every day.

Benefits other than detox – disappearance of love handles

Pose 4: Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)surya-namaskar-sun-salutation

Sun salutation is an intense yet incredibly helpful sequence of 12 yoga poses. It is not possible to list all its steps here, so follow this link for complete steps and breathing technique.

Benefits other than detox – a full body stretching and strengthening workout in 5 minutes

 

Pose 5: Corpse Pose (Savasana)Corpse Pose

This is a relaxing and rejuvenating pose which helps eliminate all the ‘mental’ toxins which get accumulated inside our minds. All you need to do is lie down on the floor in a relaxed position and focus on your breathing. Turn your head towards a side, close your eyes and relax.

Must practice – Bellows breathing or Bhastrika pranayama

This breathing technique cleanses up sinuses and helps exhale toxins out from the respiratory system. However, those with migraine or blood pressure issues should not perform it.

Initial position: Sit in a comfortable position, either cross legged or on a chair. Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Bend your elbows to bring your fists closer to your shoulders. This way your fists face up the sky and elbows towards the floor.

  1. Inhale deep on a count of 3 and raise your arms in the air spreading your fingers apart.
  2. Now exhale in a short quick bursts on just one count and forcefully bring your hands back to the shoulders making a fist.
  3. Do this 20 times in a row. Discontinue immediately if you feel light headedness.

Well, that’s all for the postpartum detox – A diet you can follow and a fast you are allowed to do, plus a simple yoga workout to leg up your weight loss plans.

Try them out and let me know how it felt.

 

Author Bio:

Hi! I’m Mansi, an ashtangi at home and an Editor at an online health magazine. Dabbling with health and fitness news is my work while playing around with poses and poetry my passion. Reach out to me at @iam_mansi or add me to your Google circles and stay in touch.

 

Aerobic v.s. Anaerobic Exercise – Top 4 Reasons for Each

images[1]Aerobic exercise (a.k.a. aerobics, cardiovascular exercise or cardio) is any sustained, rhythmic activity that primarily uses your larger muscles and challenges your heart and lungs.

Aerobic means “with oxygen,” so when you exercise aerobically your body uses oxygen to help produce energy during the exercise. Your heart and lungs have to work harder to constantly deliver oxygen to your body during aerobic exercise, and this strengthens your heart and lungs.

There are plenty of ways that you can exercise aerobically. You can walk, run, or bike. You can use a treadmill, stationary bike, stair stepper, elliptical machine, or rowing machine. You can participate in an aerobic exercise class. Here are the top four reasons to get moving:

1. Toughens the ticker. Aerobic exercise strengthens the hardest working muscle in your body – your heart. A stronger heart pumps blood more efficiently, which improves blood flow to all parts of your body. Better blood flow results in more oxygen and essential nutrients being delivered to the cells of your body. It also results in more effective removal of toxins and other waste materials from your body.

2. Helps keep arteries clear. Aerobic exercise raises HDL (good) cholesterol and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. This results in less buildup of plaque in your arteries. Plaques begin in artery walls and can grow over the years. The growth of cholesterol plaques slowly blocks blood flow in the arteries causing all sorts of health problems.

3. Rallies the respiratory system. Aerobic exercise improves the effectiveness with which your respiratory system can supply oxygen to your body. Your body needs a constant and plentiful amount of oxygen in order to function properly.

4. Reduces body fat. Aerobic exercise not only burns calories, it’s the only type of exercise that directly burns body fat. In order for body fat to be burned, oxygen must be used to help produce energy during the exercise, and this only occurs with aerobic exercise.

 

images[8]Anaerobic exercise is high intensity muscular activity that lasts for a short period of time. Strength training a.k.a. weight lifting or weight training and calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups etc.) are examples of anaerobic exercise. Strength training is the most effective type of anaerobic exercise. Here are the top four benefits:

1. Builds and maintains lean muscle mass. The loss of lean muscle mass can begin as early as your mid-20s, and it results in a loss of strength, a slower metabolism and decreased functional fitness. The loss of lean muscle mass is not the normal result of aging; it’s primarily the result of a sedentary lifestyle. If you don’t use your muscles they waste away. Strength training is the most effective way to build and maintain lean muscle mass and stay strong and functionally fit.

2. Bolsters bones – strength and density. Millions of people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis. Consuming high calcium food (leafy greens, oranges, beans) or taking calcium supplements to increase bone strength and density is not enough. Bones need to be challenged by weight bearing exercise or they will become soft and brittle. Strength training will increase the strength and density of your bones more than any other type of exercise.

3. Motivates metabolism. The slower your metabolism, the easier it is to gain body fat and the harder it is to lose it. Strength training boosts metabolism because it builds and maintains lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass is metabolically active tissue, so the more lean muscle mass you have the faster your metabolism will be.

4. Reshapes the body and improves appearance. Vanity! No other type of exercise can reshape your body and improve your appearance like strength training can. Strength training will give you a strong, toned, looking body.

Indoor Rowing – Endurance, Flexibility, Cardio, Resistance

Lately, I have been trying to mix up my cardio between the treadmill, elliptical, and spinning. But lately another machine has been calling my name. It’s faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, works all the muscles in a single bound, Look! It’s a rowing machine.

That’s right, that little rowing machine off in the corner of the gym is one of the few super machines that work all the major muscles of the body at once while providing a cardio kick at the same time.

Starboard or Port? No need to memorize any boating terms to get a great rowing workout. Indoor rowing can be an endurance exercise, a flexibility exercise, a cardio exercise, and it invokes all the muscles of the body and trains them evenly. The pulling motion works the arms, shoulders, back, and abdomen. The legs, hips, and torso do the brunt of the work on the slide back, and it does this all with very little pressure on the joints. Because rowing is done with a fluid movement, the sliding motion doesn’t jar elbows or knees like other types of exercise.

You can adjust the rowing machine to create a tighter resistance to tone and build muscles. For that aerobic advantage, keep the tension low to maintain less resistance and higher speed, which improves endurance along with lung, heart and circulation systems. Rowing machines offer the best of all worlds in one exercise.

The power in each stroke or pull controls the flywheel on the rowing machine, and proper technique is key. The rhythm to rowing is Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

Be careful when sitting, because all rowers have movable seat pads. Strap your feet flat, straighten the torso while contracting the abdominal muscles, and grab the bar in a palms down grip by bending the knees, not rounding the spine. This starting position is called the catch.

Drive back with the feet to straighten the legs and begin to pull the bar forcefully as the legs finish straightening out. The pulling stroke is a rapid, constant horizontal motion all the way into the mid-section. Recover by bending the knees and straightening the arms to start the forward sliding motion back to the start. Now do it all over again, and again, and again. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover. Catch, Drive, Finish, Recover.

Cardiovascular Exercise – 3 Reasons To Get Your Heat Pumping

Love it or hate it, cardio is the key to good health.  I usually dread cardio, but I am oh so glad when it is over.  My flavor of the month right now is spinning and running.  I love to run through the neighborhood, but hate running on the treadmill, so running might have to take a hiatus for the next month or so, until it cools off a bit.  Even at 5:00 AM it seems to be hitting 90 degrees lately.

The term cardio covers a wide range of activities that include the use of major muscle groups in the body working in a continuous manner. But most importantly, the heart muscle is the one to benefit the most from cardiovascular exercises. There are various physical activities that can be considered cardio training, such as walking, jogging, running, swimming, rowing, cycling, as well as taking classes like Zumba, cardio kick boxing, or even something as novel as pole dancing.

The nice thing about cardio is that even a little bit goes a long way to lead you to good health.

1. It boosts energy levels. Regular cardio exercise can help in improving a person’s energy levels. When the body goes through regular cardio training, it slowly adapts and is more able to cope with the added strenuous physical activity. People become less tired while doing more work. In the process, they can become more energetic. Physical endurance isn’t just important for exercising. Think about playing with the kids (we just got an X-Box Kinect, and I need all the energy I can get), power shopping during the holidays, sightseeing on vacation. The more energy the more fun you will have in your every day activities.

2. It helps improve weight control and metabolism. Regular cardio exercises can help maintain your desired weight level. When we do cardio, our bodies require more energy and our metabolism speeds up to supply it. With an improved metabolism, the body can burn more calories more efficiently. Regular cardio training can also help build up muscles,  and muscle burns calories, while fat does not. This means that the more muscular you are, the higher your metabolism will remain at all times.

3. It helps prevent disease. Regular cardio training can help in the prevention of heart disease. The heart also has muscles that make it work more effectively. Strengthening them makes the heart grow stronger and delay or prevent the development of diseases associated with the heart. Most cardio strengthens the lungs as well. Conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease can be prevented with regular cardio exercise and training.

So even if you hate doing cardio, your heart and your health love it.

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