Happy Chinese New Year

2014 Resolution: New Year – New You!
Happy Chinese New Year
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January is here sooner that you thought and it is time to stick to those New Years’ resolutions that you wrote down back in December. No problem – I am here to help you get started and stay committed.

Having a clear plan is half the battle, as we have all heard the old cliché, “FAILING TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL”, many times. Having an organized workout program in place makes adherence that much easier. Finding a buddy to work out with is even better as you can challenge each other.

Here is a program that you can do in the comfort of your home or office with minimal equipment. You can do wonders with your own body weight! This program is geared to either the beginner or intermediate exerciser. If you are a beginner, I would suggest that you take a little more rest between each exercise and perhaps do fewer repetitions. If you are more advanced, you can obviously add weights or rest less. Remember that the slower your tempo, meaning the time that you take to complete an exercise, the harder it is. Going too quickly can lead to using momentum as opposed to muscle! Begin with a warm up that includes either a 10 minute walk/jog around the block, or if you have stairs in your home, you may go up and down several times to equate 7-10 minutes. If you have a jump rope, I would prefer that you do a combination of all 3 -run/walk, stairs, and skip-just less of each.

Exercise 1 – Lunges on the Spot

Starting with your feet together and fingers alongside your temple with elbows flared, take a step forward with your right leg, push back through your front heel, and repeat with left leg, 6-15 times each leg.

Exercise 2 – Push Ups

Either full or modified. 6-15 reps.

Exercise 3 – Hip Bridge

Lie on back with your feet bent, shoulders hip width apart. Extend hips toward ceiling, keeping your core engaged and squeezing glutes throughout range. Lower to floor and repeat 15-20 reps.

Exercise 4 – Russian Twist

Lie on back with legs lifted and bent to 90 degrees and arms out to side, in line with shoulders, palms lifted to ceiling. With abdominals engaged, allow legs to fall towards one side and then use abs to lift the legs back up and over to the other side. Repeat 10 times each side. Note: Only let legs fall as far as they will without shoulders lifting

As soon as you finish these 4 exercises, either skip for 30 seconds as fast as you can, or jump in place. Count each jump! Rest for 1 minute, take some water and repeat the circuit. Challenge yourself by trying adding reps, or more sets and beating the amount of jumps!

I do not recommend doing this exercise routine for more than 6 weeks as our body needs variety and change otherwise your muscles get bored along with your brain!

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Using Your Body to Boost Your Mood

exercise to boost your mood Among all of the benefits of exercise, did you know that exercise is often a natural cure for depression? It’s one of the most common motivators for exercising—wanting to feel better, to be more confident, think more positively, to be able to better cope with life’s everyday problems, and generally have a happier outlook on life.

Sure you can take anti-depressant medication, talk with a therapist or coach, or connect up to electroshock therapy…but a healthy alternate to these is to get active. This alternative solution or simply wise addition could include activities such as: hitting the trail, hiring a trainer, joining a gym, a full-body workout on a Total Gym, or joining a group ex program like Les Mills, Zumba, or a Pilates, Yoga or spin class.

I’m not really certain why mental health and medical professionals have been slow to grasp the value of exercise in overall wellbeing. It’s not “hokus-pokus.” There’s hard data and randomized controlled research that indicates that the mood-exercise connection is real. Reviewing studies dating back to 1981 concludes that consistent exercise can effectively relieve mild to moderate depression, as well as help with those suffering with more severe depression.

While this is not the place to review all of that evidence, one study reported in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2007 by James Blumenthal, Ph.D. of Duke University, found that exercise was generally comparable to antidepressant medications for patients with major depression. In a one-year follow-up, reported in Psychosomatic Medicine in 2010, Blumenthal reported that those subjects who exercised regularly had lower depression than did those who were less active. He summarized his thoughts by suggesting that exercise was not only important in treating depression, but in preventing relapse as well.

Just how this happens, and what it does for the body, is now becoming well understood. Exercise alters brain chemistry by modifying neurotransmitters, serotonin, and norepinephrine, just as antidepressant medications do.

One widely accepted idea is that physical activity, especially in the range of 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense activity (even broken up into 10-20 minute sessions), increases neurotransmitters, galanin, endorphins and norepinephrine including serotonin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor and reduces cortisol, as well as normalizes sleep. These “feel-good” chemicals promote clarity, euphoria, and are protective against stress in response to new situations. This also helps to diminish the perception of pain, and builds happiness and self-esteem—all safely without fear of addiction or negative side-effects. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) repairs brain atrophy and helps grow brain cells—all important in lifting depression.

Depression relief can also be found in the depression-fitness connection by providing a genuine sense of positive goal accomplishment. This leaves people who exercise regularly, alone or with others, feeling more self-confident, better able to interact with others, less anxious about the future and better able to cope with life in a positive way. There is a more natural positive self-image, affirmations, gratitude and the ability to see positive outcomes from exercise.

Now, if you are already taking anti-depressant medication don’t give it up. You may need it. Speak with your doctor and a certified personal trainer/health coach to understand the role that exercise can play with your level and type of depression. If it’s not the entire natural answer, safe and properly supervised exercise is surely an important part of most treatment programs for depression. At the very least, it’s free and when properly done, has little or no negative side-effects. Like chicken soup, it can’t hurt.