Exercise and Fitness

Creative Exercise: Breaking the Gym Phobia

Creative Exercise
Why do people shy away from exercise? Maybe they have PTSD from having been forced to do all kinds of strenuous and unpleasant things in PhysEd class in junior high school, like running until their lungs were on fire or showing up all sweaty afterwards to Trigonometry class because there was no hot water in the gym showers. Or maybe they hated the forced marches and the constant "drop down, get ten" from military basic training. Or, like so many others of the  cyber generation, they feel much happier gripping a game-boy joystick than gripping a lacrosse stick or baseball bat. What's more, regularly-scheduled exercise requires self-regiment (ugh - get outa here!).  Or, maybe they did try exercise and they hurt themselves, or they went to the gym and felt self-conscious.

People have more excuses to avoid exercise than Bayer has little aspirin tablets...

That's a shame, because nothing makes you feel so vibrant as the post-exercise feeling of accomplishment and the exhilaration of endorphin, the feel-good hormone triggered by exercise, which is the world's best natural anti-depressant.

Here's how I crack my clients' gym phobia - I teach them how to exercise creatively. The principle of creative exercise is simply to create an activity that you love, where you can move your body in the process. Here are a few examples:

  1. Walking along the beach, in sand, or up the sand dunes: this is a cardiovascular exercise that equals or even surpasses wind sprints because of the effort your lungs and legs have to exert to move forward in the sand, especially where there's incline. The waves and the sea air are so invigorating that one totally forgets the he or she is exercising.
  2. Walk in the park, along the riverbank, out in the pasture, in the woods or in your favorite environment. Relish G-d's gifts in nature while you're doing it; enjoy the trees, the plants, the birds, the flowers and the animals. Listen to the melody of a babbling brook - you'le love it.
  3. While you're alone with nature, commune with your Creator. This adds pleasure to soul as well as to body.
  4. Mark your periodic time slot of creative exercise in your calendar, just as you would an important meeting.
  5. Treat yourself to good exercise gear - comfortable shoes and garb that you wear especially for your creative exercise session.
  6. Try to do an minimum of 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
  7. If you love company, exercise with you spouse or a best buddy.

You get the idea - now use your imagination. Maybe you'll get your bike or your roller skates out from under the pile of junk in the garage. The key is to do something enjoyable; don't let it become a dread or routine.

Once you get used to exercising, and you begin to feel great and look your best, you won't know how you ever lived without exercising. Go for it! Start slow, and enjoy it, just like you enjoy a favorite meal. The difference between the exercise and the meal is that the former burns calories and doesn't cost you a cent. There is a life of fitness outside the gyms. G-d bless for good health, LB


Tips for Senior Fitness - Who Says that 70 is Old?

Are you what folks call a senior citizen? If so, Bro and Sis, you're like fine wine that gets better with age...

Some people are old, round-shouldered, overweight, lazy and sluggish at 23. Others have ramrod posture, stability, agility and flexibility at 83. Your life is doing the very best with the raw material that the Almighty gives you.

I don't care how old you are, but if you want to say goodbye to a load of aches and pains, candidacy for diabetes, cardiac issues and a long list of other ailments, then start eating right and exercising every day. Here are a few tips for seniors (or juniors) just getting started on a personal fitness improvement campaign:

  1. Exercise every day, just like you eat and drink daily.
  2. Take it slow it first; like Rome, you don't build your body in a day, but each day of good nutrition and exercise adds up.
  3. Active walking is the sport of choice. Start with 10 minutes a day and then add an additional 5 minutes every week until you work up to at least 30 minutes a day.
  4. Choose walking over riding in cars; take the stairs instead of the elevator if your heart, lungs and knees are in decent shape.
  5. Once you're capable of walking 30 minutes a day, you can add Pilates and resistance training. I recommend starting out with bodyweight exercises rather than reaching for the iron. 
  6. Do a good warmup before any exercise; the flexibility you get from your warmup prepares muscles for further injury-free activity.
  7. Chart your progress by keeping an exercise log.

We'll be posting specific advice in reference to the above points in the near future, G-d willing. Meanwhile, here at Brody Health and Fitness, if you talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk. Enjoy the following clip and stay healthy! Every blessing, LB

Who Says that 70 is Old? from lazerbrody on Vimeo.


Keep on Walkin'

Walking 13.5
My favorite sport happens to be the worlds #1 fitness exercise, which does just as much for soul as it does for body. This is the only fitness activity that the whole family can participate in together, from 2-year-old toddler Mikey to 102-year-old great grandfather Morris. This is an activity that's joint-and-muscle friendly as well as fantastic for your heart and lungs. It's walking. If we add the technique of brisker strides and more vigorous hand and arm motion, we move up to the power walking category and burn all the more calories, just like we do in any other cardio exercise.

If you want to maximize the benefits of walking and prevent injuries, then your form and posture must be proper. Like in any other exercise, the better the form, the more beneficial the exercise. Use this form & posture checklist to evaluate yourself:

Proper Walking Form

1. Keep your head upright and eyes forward. Texting or looking at your smartphone destroys this important element of good walking form.

2. Engage your core by pulling your navel in as if you're trying to make it touch your spine.

3. Imagine that a string from heaven is linked to the crown of your skull pulling your head up and extending your neck. This method is a strong remedy to the kyphosis that people develop from sitting at a desk all day long.

4. Drop your shoulders and enable the back of your neck to touch the collar of your shirt. Your neck muscles should be relaxed.

5. Don't slump forward; if you feel like you are slumping, readjust your body position so that you conform to the above four points.

6. Swing your arms gently; the more you add arm motion, the faster you'll walk and the more calories you'll burn in a particular time period. Don't go crazy though - your hands shouldn't rise higher than your collarbone.

7. Walk with feet aligned in a straight manner rather than waddling from side to side. To do this, make sure your hips are moving forward rather than side to side.

8. Don't tiptoe; with every step, land on your heel and roll your foot forward. Comfortable shoes are a must!

Benefits of Walking

1. Great for burning belly fat.

2. Anyone can do it!

3. Lowers risk of hip fracture, especially with women.

4. Great for heart and lung health.

5. Wonderful for those who cannot or may not engage in more strenuous activities.

6. Fantastic for mental functioning, especially concentration, decision-making, self-composure and memory.

7. Wards off anxiety and depression while improving self-esteem.

8. Retards aging and increases longevity.

If we add personal prayer to our walking routine, and speak to the Almighty while sharing everything that's on our heart with Him, we have the greatest body-mind-soul health enhancer on earth. Try it; although we recommend 60-minutes a day, there are huge benefits for 30 minutes daily on up. KEEP ON WALKING - you'll love it. Every blessing, LB


The Flashy Body or Functional Fitness

Functional Fitness
If you're carrying a full-load backpack on an uphill trail without huffing and puffing, you're functionally fit. The same goes for carrying two six-packs of 1.5 liter bottles of mineral water home from the grocery store...

Did you ever ask yourself, "Why did the Creator give me a body?" Surprisingly, most people don't know the answer.

* Craig has humongous biceps from the hundreds of heavyweight dumbbell curls he does every day. Yet, when his wife asked him to take down a can of tuna from the top shelf in her kitchen pantry, he couldn't do it because his shoulders were too tight. He simply couldn't raise his arms that high, despite his 6'1" frame. Frustrated, his 5'3" wife stood on a kitchen chair and took the can of tuna down herself.

* In her own words, Marianne "feels dead" if she misses a day of spin class. She spins for an hour a day, proud of her figure. She eats whatever she wants because she burns about 700 calories in one humongous, imho exaggerated session that's going to bring her to burnout, sooner or later. But, she's so into her peddling as the techno-background music pumps her up, that she slouches over the handlebars, which she grips tightly. Her figure isn't too slightly because she can't stand up straight. What's more, she can only carry her attaché case to work (weighs about 5 pounds, including laptop) in her right hand because she's developed lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) in her left arm. So now, in addition to her slouching, she walks with one shoulder higher than the other because she only lifts things with one hand.

* Abe, in his quest for six-pack abs, does over a thousand crunches a day. Sure, his stomach muscles are like iron but his hip flexors and lumbar spine are so tight that he can't touch his toes without deeply bending his knees. Abe looks good on the beach but he sorely lacks inner core strength and like Marianne, his posture is terrible.

* Naomi is the women's weightlifting champion of her gym. She can military press and bench press more than women twice her size. Yet, the other day, she bent over to pick up her baby and she pulled her back out.

What's wrong with Craig, Marianne, Abe and Naomi? They are into what you might call "cosmetic fitness", working out for the flashy body, the bulging biceps, the six-pack abs, the "Hey, look at me!" legs and the general Miss or Mister America body. Yet, they lack functional fitness. They can't perform basic functions in life. Their workouts are wrong and they oftentimes are detrimental to overall health rather than conducive to it. How?

The muscle/bikini beach crowd focus on isolated muscle groups rather than on multiple muscle groups working together in harmony. In the words of Greg Roskopf, MS, a biomechanics consultant with a company called Muscle Activation Techniques who has worked with athletes from the Denver Broncos, the Denver Nuggets, and the Utah Jazz, "Conventional weight training isolates muscle groups, but it doesn't teach the muscle groups you're isolating to work with others".

When we're functionally fit, we're quicker and more agile in our daily functions. Functional fitness exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries or playing a game of hide-and-seek with your children.

You don't have to spend hours in a gym. Fifteen minutes a day of functional fitness exercises are sufficient to keep you feeling great. Although I love such total body kettlebell exercises as deadlifts, goblet squats and kettlebell swings because of all the muscles they involve, you don't need any apparatus. Such bodyweight exercises as pushups, front and side lunges, squats and planks will keep you fit from head-to-toe. Shlepping groceries up three flights of stairs works wonders too...

Never forget also that good dietary habits are twice as important as exercise. Sabbath and holidays are for delight, but not for eating into oblivion, especially grossly unhealthy things. All good diets tolerate, even encourage, one cheat-day a week but that doesn't mean alcohol-and-pastry suicide. Like our working out, our eating and drinking should be for the sake of maintaining a fit body, whose purpose is to capably house a serene soul that's connected to its Creator for 120 happy and healthy years, amen!


Take that First Step

First step

A group of friends once made a trip together. On the way to their destination, they saw someone standing with a backpack on a desert crossroads. Seven days later, on their way home, they encountered the same person with the backpack standing on the same desert crossroads in the hot sun. The group of friends asked the backpacker, "Why are you standing here?"

"I want to go to Jerusalem," responded the backpacker. "I'm waiting for a ride."

"How long have you been waiting?" they asked.

"More than a week," he answered.

They laughed. "Jerusalem's only a two-day walk from here. If you'd have started walking, you could have been there and back four times already!"

Many of us want to change, yet we expect it to happen automatically, with no effort on our part. Life doesn't work that way. An old Hebrew expression says, "Even a journey of a thousand kilometers begins with a first step."

For years, you've been dreaming of getting in shape, losing weight, ridding yourself of an annoying habit, feeling better about yourself or "all of the above". Take the first step! Walk for a few minutes or begin using the stairs instead of the elevator. Have a glass of water instead of the cola or an apple instead of the piece of cake. You'll feel so much better. Set goals that are reachable, and gradually raise the bar. Before you know it, you'll be well on the way to accomplishing things that you never thought you could. "Strength and Serenity", our blog here at brodyhealth.com, is here to help you do just that. Stick with us and feel free to sign up for our free newsletter, which you can do on the toolbar at the right side of this site.

Don't be afraid - go ahead and take that first step up your personal mountain. Step by step, you'll get to the top.

Stick with us; things here are brand new and we're just warming up. G-d willing, we plan to post 2-3 times per week with "money-in-the-bank" practical advice for your health of body, mind and soul in a way that you'll thoroughly enjoy.