“I don’t possess the equipment or the space for a home gym!” “I can’t afford to join a gym!” “I don’t like weight lifting!” Motives for not exercising? Perhaps the following suggested activities will provoke submission. Yoga, pilates, bodyweight exercises, tai chi and qigong (chi kung) are all modes of exercise that don’t require a gym membership, equipment or much space, to practice. I would however suggest purchasing a DVD to ensure proper technique of your chosen activity.
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The ancient practice of yoga helps to facilitate a union of the physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions bringing balance and harmony. As you practice yoga asanas or poses you gain strength, flexibility and a more toned body. Yoga also helps to stabilize and balance metabolism, which helps control weight. Fat is eliminated around the cells as a result of stretching and muscle elongation during yoga. Yoga also promotes focused breathing while doing asanas. Focused breathing produces calming effects essential to dissolving stress and anxiety. Consciousness is also elevated through yoga, making yoga a discipline that enriches the total being.
Pilates is a form of exercise that incorporates body and mind using controlled movements and dynamic tension. Dynamic tension is the process of muscle working against muscle. Pilates exercises focus on core, lower back and glutes but like yoga build total body strength, increases flexibility and encouraging mind and body control.
Bodyweight exercises or calisthenics as they are sometimes called, consist of simple movements which do not require weights or equipment. Increased body strength and flexibility are developed using one’s own body for resistance. Grouping various movements together can produce toning, strength, endurance and flexibility. Bodyweight exercises include squats, push-up, dips, sit-ups, crunches, good mornings and pelvic thrust just to name a few. Customize your workout to include all major muscle groups or address areas of weakness.
Tai chi is an eastern discipline sometime called a soft martial art. Tai chi involves slow controlled movement aligned with proper breathing techniques. These slow gentle movements make tai chi ideal for all ages. Although tai chi can be used as a martial art, today many practitioners utilize it for its physical and mental benefits. Researchers say there is evidence tai chi promotes better balance, reducing the risk of falling in older adults, improved flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. Tai chi’s movements and breath control are also ideal for stress management and promoting a tranquel mind.
Qigong (Chi Kung)
Qigong, another Eastern discipline focusing on the mind and body, has martial as well as health applications. Qigong can be practiced as ‘still qigong’ or ‘moving qigong’. Still qigong emphasizes quiet meditation and breathing while moving qigong incorporates the principles of still qigong with movement of the limbs and body. Health benefits associated with qigong include expanding lung capacity, promoting circulation of oxygen in the blood, massaging the internal abdominal organs, and helping digestion and assimilation of food. Practicing qigong strengthens the body and heightens its ability to abbreviate illness.
It is important to incorporate some form of physical activity into your lifestyle. There is a plethora of physical activities to choose from; above suggestions represent a small sampling. Make a commitment to become physically active today; the benefit you’ll receive can dramatically improve the quality of your life. Remember a well-rounded fitness program includes healthy eating, aerobic activity and resistance training. Strive to exercise 30 minutes a day 5 times per week.
“If your dog is fat, you’re not getting enough exercise.” -Author Unknown