From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

By Matt Mayer, MSc.

So you're trying to be more active but your commitment may be flagging. Here's a little motivation. By getting active regularly, for a total of 150 minutes a week, you will:

  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 30%;
  • Keep your bones strong and healthy;
  • Improve your cognitive abilities - better reasoning, decision making, reaction times;
  • Improve other risk factors - helping you control your weight and blood pressure.

Canadians are in a bad state but we can change this. In my previous column I showed you an easy, 10-minute routine to get started on a more active lifestyle.

Now let's change it up and keep you motivated with a fresh routine that increases the challenge but still delivers a head-to-toe workout.

The workout:
Begin with 3-5 minutes of skipping. If you don't have a skipping rope, fake it with small hops - switch between hopping on one foot and both. Afterwards, complete the six exercises below. Take a 30-second break between exercises and sip water when you need to. Complete all six exercises for one set.

  • Burpees: Start in a standing position and drop into a squat, palms flat on the ground. In a quick motion hop both feet back to plank position. Hop both feet back under your body to the squat position and then jump up as high as you can, landing softly on your feet. This is all done in one motion. Repeat 10 times.
     
  • Side squats: Start standing, hands at your sides. Sidestep with your left foot, as you would to stretch your groin, landing lightly - shifting your weight from right to left. Keep your feet parallel, left knee over left foot and right leg straight. Squat down as far as you can. Return to standing by pushing back up with your left foot and shifting your weight to the right. Do 10 to 15 per side, alternating sides each time.
    Tip: Use your arms to balance but do not swing them to create momentum.
     
  • Side plank: Start by lying on your left side. Push your body up, balancing on your left forearm, keeping your elbow under your shoulder, and on the side of your left foot. Rest your right arm against your body. Engage your abdominals and keep your body level; hold for 60 seconds. Switch sides.
     
  • Army crawl: Make sure you have room to move. Get into a push-up position and drop to rest on your forearms. Begin to pull your body forward using your forearms. Do not push with your feet. Crawl for 60 seconds - take a rest on the ground if needed.
    Tip: Place a towel under your feet to help them slide on a smooth floor.
     
  • Crunches: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Cross your arms across your chest. Flex your abdominals to lift your upper body until both shoulder blades are off the floor. Hold for one second. Return to start position. Do 25.
     
  • Jumping jacks: Stand with your arms at your sides and feet together. In one motion, jump both feet out to slighter wider than shoulder width and bring your arms over your head - as if making a snow angel. Jump back, reversing the motions to the start position. Do 25.
    Tip: For a lower impact, step side to side instead of jumping.

Complete two sets and finish with a 5 to 10 minute walk or jog outside. If you are using a treadmill, start at a zero incline and increase by one increment every 2 minutes.

If you need a visual demonstration, excellent videos are available on Youtube; just Google the names of the exercises.

  • It's cold and flu season; here's how to stay active when you're under the weather.
  • Are you a senior? Check out these activity tips just for you.

Before starting any physical activity routine, please check with your healthcare provider.

Matt Mayer is an exercise physiologist.

Posted February 2012.

Heart and Stroke Foundation

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