Alan Freishtat will be in the NY-NJ area from January 13th-16th and the Baltimore-Washington area from January 17th-January 19th. He will be available for consultations and group seminars during that time. For further information call 1-516-568-5027 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday evening I looked at my schedule for Monday and realized that the office had gotten very busy, so there wasn’t going to be time to do a formal exercise routine. Some days, I can take some of my clients for outdoor powerwalks and at least I know I can get that aspect done–but since this didn’t seem an option, I started planning my Monday.
At first glance, it appeared I was going to be too busy to exercise at all. “How can I take care of my health and get in enough activity to make a difference?” I thought.
So, the first thing I decided was to daven shacharis at a minyan far from my house. I woke up 15 minute earlier and walked very briskly 15 minutes there and 15 minutes back. Now I had 30 minutes of aerobic exercise under my belt to start the day. When I got home, I walked six flights of stairs up to my apartment instead of using an elevator. I walked back down the stairs upon leaving for work, and drove in. I came into the office, put away my things and got to work. I checked my tracker, noting that I had already accumulated 3,850 steps and seven flights of stairs—a good way to start the day.
At 1:00 p.m. I decided to daven mincha, which took me three flights of stairs up and back down. Before my next client arrived, I got down on the floor and did 30 pushups and 50 sit ups, which took me two and a half minutes. Now it was time for lunch and back to work. After the next client, I walked to my bank to deposit a check and walked back, a total of 18 minutes. When I got back to the office, I spent 90 seconds doing bench dips and did special stretches made for people who sit at a desk much of the day and got back to work.
My day finished at 6:30 p.m. and I drove home and had supper. I took a short rest and then I walked to Maariv and then walked to my shiur. Returning home from the shiur involved six flights of stairs up. As the day came to a close, I checked my fitness tracker: I had climbed 17 flights of stairs and had walked 8,500 steps over the course of the day and the first 30 minutes were definitely sustained within the aerobic pulse range.
I didn’t do a formal workout that Monday and I didn’t go to a gym. I didn’t set aside an hour and a half to work out. I simply fit it into my day while accomplishing tasks I had to do anyway.
What did all this get me?
Let’s first look at the stairs I climbed throughout the day. Stair climbing requires significant energy and burns plenty of calories in a short period of time. Because of this, you can achieve the benefits of a longer, more moderate workout in a shorter amount of time. Stair climbing requires no special equipment and can be performed by most exercisers, regardless of their fitness level. During stair climbing, you use your leg muscles to pull yourself up. You’ll work your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors and core body.
A 150-pound person can burn seven calories per minute when climbing at a moderate intensity, according to Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise in a “New York Times” interview. So if you do steps intensely like I do, two stairs at a time, you can burn far more calories. Researchers also found that people who use stairs experienced reduced heart rate (a sign of good fitness), improved oxygen uptake and had increased their high-density lipoprotein, or “good” cholesterol, numbers.
How about the almost hour of accumulated walking that happened? People who walk more than 30 minutes most days of the week get the following benefits:
- Increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness.
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes.
- Stronger bones and improved balance.
- Increased muscle strength and endurance.
- Reduced body fat.
If you are stuck at your desk most of the day, here are a few things you can do that are highly beneficial to your health and you do them right in your office:
- Just stand up and sit down: no hands.
- Get rid of your desk chair and substitute an exercise.
- Shrug your shoulders: to release the neck and shoulders. Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release and drop. Repeat three times.
- Shake your head slowly, as if saying yes and no.
- Loosen the hands with air circles: Clench both fists, stretching both hands out in front of you. Make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of ten. Then reverse the circles and shake out your hands.
- Release the upper body with a torso twist: Inhale and as you exhale, turn to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm of the chair with your left. With eyes level, use your grasp on the chair to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist and let your eyes continue the stretch — see how far around the room you can peer. Slowly come back to facing forward. Repeat on the other side.
- Stretch your back with a “big hug”: Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.
- Sit up tall in your chair, or stand up: Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers. Turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling, too. Inhale, exhale, release.
All of this is just increased activity, and the benefits are immense. Just making a few changes, like parking your car a few blocks from your destination, not using elevators, getting off public transportation a stop or two before your intended stop and work walking from place to place into your day, you can reap enormous benefits to your physical and mental health.
This doesn’t preclude the need for formal exercise! We still have to schedule that into our day. But when things don’t work out for you, and you are having “one of those days” and you just can’t fit the formal exercise into your day, being active will “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”
Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a BEHAVIORAL CHANGE and WELLNESS COACH with over 19 years of professional experience. Alan is the creator and director of the “10 Weeks to Health” program for weight loss. He is available for private coaching sessions, consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs both in his office and by telephone and skype. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at email@example.com Check out the his web site –www.alanfitness.com US Line: 516-568-5027.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.