Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crumby Fitness

Even in the dead of winter when the temperature barely goes above 30 degrees and running outside is a near impossibility for me, I still think running on a treadmill in your own home is like eating in bed--crumby. 

I don't care how convenient it may appear to have a huge, heavy piece of workout equipment steps away. The act of getting up and going to a separate place or environment is an important aspect of motivation. Who wants to be reminded 24/7 that they're not working out? And carving a special time and place to run (or for that matter eat) is a vital part of positive conditioning. For a long time, studies have shown that people who eat on the run (or for that matter, in bed!) consume more calories than those who sit at a proper tablesetting. Now an Annals of Behavioral Medicine study has shown that those who own home gyms workout 12 percent less often than those go to a club.

Don't get me wrong. I do have some beloved fitness items at home. Granted these are more for rehab than waist-reduction, but here are my top 3:

1. My Sacrowedgy: For anyone who gets lower back pain or hip stiffness like me, this hot-pink plastic wedge is better than any NSAID. Just lie on the triangular pad with it placed at the base of your spine for 20 minutes and in no time, your hips are open and relaxed. Just support your back and hips by tightening your abs when you get up from it. This passive stretch releases your muscles farther than you think and you don't want to tweak anything when you're too loose.

2. My Stick: Save $95 on a sports massage and rub out those knots yourself with this surprisingly effective apparatus. Tight muscles are the recipe for injury and nothing sucks more than the will to workout--but a pulled muscle to prevent you. This slightly bendable stick has moveable rings on it that loosen up knots and tight muscle areas quickly. My IT band has thanked me for it.

3. My Foam Roller: It looks like a flotation device but really this roller can serve a few different purposes. You can roll on it like The Stick. By applying gentle pressure to certain irritated muscles, it offers "myofascial release" and makes muscles more pliable again. Or, you can just lie on it to stretch your back and neck muscles. This is my favorite passive stretch on the roller. Just make sure your head and lower spine are aligned on the roller and then splay your legs and arms over the sides. After a hard day at work or a hard run, nothing feels closer to floating on air than the foam roller. (Maybe there is something to the "flotation" analogy after all)....

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