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Quickie Exercise

Posted Nov 25 2009 6:25pm
 After Thanksgiving, many of us descend into a tunnel of too little daylight and too many obligations.   Even though the days start to lengthen by December 22 (although who notices the difference?), the sense of having too much to do and too little time to do it lasts through the New Year. Our response to the ever-growing to-do list is to drop the non-essentials. Unfortunately, exercise is one of the first “non-essentials” to disappear. The still-too-early sunsets make staying inside more appealing than driving in the dark to a gym.Stopping gym workouts, walks around the neighborhood, or Pilates class at the community center gives us that extra hour or two that our schedules demand right now. But it also may give us something we don’t want—a few extra pounds by the first of the year.   The combination of holiday eating and less physical activity is a perfect way to gain weight (in case anyone wants to).Obviously, no one asks for the gift of holiday weight gain but if time will not stretch to incorporate those yoga stretches, what can you do? The answer is the exercise quickie.   Short intense bouts of exercise, sometimes lasting no more than 2 minutes, can speed up your heart rate, burn off some calories and even make you feel less tired as your cells get more oxygen due to increased blood flow. Everyone, no matter how overscheduled and overcommitted, can fit 5 bouts of 2- minute exercise into the day. Here’s how to do it.1.  Whenever you climb steps, climb them faster. Going from basement to kitchen? Run up the steps so your heart rate goes rises. Are there steps at work alongside the elevator or escalator?   Take them two at a time to stretch your legs.   Even 30 seconds of moving fast up those steps will be beneficial.2.  Do you own an exercise machine such as a treadmill or bike? Set the timer for 2 minutes, get on, and move as fast as you can. Try to do this once a day. If you don’t have a timer, then set the microwave. In the time it takes to get water hot in the cup, you can get the blood flowing in your body and clear your head.3.  No time for yoga because you have a party when the class meets? Give yourself five extra minutes to get ready and take that time to do some yoga stretches on your bedroom carpet.4.  Is there a gym nearby where you usually spend at least an hour working out? Try a speeded-up workout.   Do only one set of weight exercises instead of three but try to work out those muscle groups, like your back and shoulders, that might be tense and curled from too much time spend at a computer or over a kitchen counter.   Get on a cardio machine and increase intensity but shorten duration. Try a machine that is hard for you, like a rower, or run instead of walking on the treadmill. Set the timer for no more than 5 minutes. You will be puffing and panting and feeling as if you had a 30-minute workout on a familiar machine.5.  Jump rope. You probably can’t do it for more than 45 seconds without tripping. But those 45 seconds will get your pulse rate up.6.  Run outside with your dog. Even 2 minutes in the fresh air will feel invigorating.7.  Need to take things down from a high shelf? Make stepping on and off a stool a step-climbing exercise. Do it fast (but don’t do it while balancing fragile Christmas ornaments).8.    Before going into that crowded, hot, noisy shopping mall, take a very brisk walk around the shopping area (if it is safe to do so).9.  Picking up your kids at school?   Park as far away as you can and then walk quickly to the school. If you have time, do a fast jog around the block.10.              If you are traveling by plane, work out your upper arms by putting suitcases of your fellow passengers in the overhead compartments for them.   Mine is going to be full of Florida pineapples so I would appreciate the help.   
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