Summer is a good time to start losing weight; the sun is out, the birds are chirping and you can’t hide behind those bulky layers anymore. Greg Harvey, personal trainer and manager of Fit ‘N’ Well in Alberta says, “Not only do people tend to be a little more active in the summer, but hot weather and activity tends to encourage us to drink more fluids. The more water we drink, the less hungry we are.”
Chores around the garden or the house can be modified into a calorie-burning workout with a few simple techniques. To ensure your back is safe Harvey strongly recommends using your abs to lift rather than your upper or lower back. “As you lift, suck in your tummy as though you are putting on a tight pair of jeans. Contract your stomach muscles and lift. When you use these techniques, your transverse abdominus (outer abdomen) activates, providing stability to your lower back so more muscles are incorporated, thus lessening the strain on the back.”
Any landscaping projects are good exercise as you move dirt and bricks, plant trees, mow the lawn, or rake etc. Here are three modified indoor household chores so you get the most from your time spent cleaning.
Fill your basket with laundry. Squat down, pick up your basket and as you are standing up, raise the basket over your head. Fully extend your arms until your elbows are almost straight. Bring the basket down again until it almost touches the floor and repeat 20 times. Keep your abdominals tight throughout the exercise.
This exercise works your buttocks, front and back of thighs, chest, triceps (the back of your arms), shoulders, lower and upper back, and biceps. To make it harder, put some magazines in the basket, or lift the basket a little further out from your body. Ensure you keep your abdominals tight throughout the movement, to protect your lower back.
Washing the floor exercise
Wet a rag in soapy water, kneel on a cushion of some sort and slide your upper body away from your knees and back again. This exercise works your abdominals, your lower back, shoulders, chest and triceps. Listen to your body and be sure not to extend your body too far out from your legs, since the farther out you go, the harder it will be on your lower back and arms. As you get stronger, extend further.
Stair climbing exercise
Going up and down stairs works your quads and calves. Take two stairs at a time and now it works your quads, calves, and the front and back of your thigh. Add a basket of laundry and you just added resistance. Hold the laundry out from your body a few inches and your abdominals and lower back will work to stabilize you as you go up and down the stairs. Holding the laundry basket away from your body slightly will also work your chest, biceps, shoulders, forearms and upper back.
The best thing you can do for your health is to listen to your body. Harvey says aches and pains are normal when you exercise, but not sharp lower-back or joint pain. So make sure pay attention to how your body is responding to the activity and you’ll be a happier, healthier person for it.
Take advantage of the beautiful weather (white it lasts!) and check out one of Canada’s top walking trails.