Even with the best of intentions, it is highly likely that we will overindulge over the Christmas period. And this article is not about denying the joy that comes from overindulging. In fact, indulging guilt-free is as good for your health as enjoying time with your family.
So, these tips are for after you have overindulged and are feeling the pressure on the waistline of your pants!
Deep diaphragmatic breathing
Often referred to as ‘belly breathing’, the goal is to allow the inhalation to expand the rib cage, relax the pelvic floor and let the belly expand. During the exhalation you should feel the pelvic floor, waist and rib cage contract. Research has proven that this type of breathing calms the nervous system and can reduce the stress hormone (cortisol). This breathing is particularly handy if you have family members that heighten your stress levels!
Take the dog for a walk
And, if you don’t have a dog, don’t let that stop you! Walking at any time of the day is beneficial. However, if you prioritise your walk first thing in the morning, you will have a better chance of doing it. And the weather will be cooler. Aim for going a little further each morning. Make sure you take time to admire all the summer colours in the gardens and smile at strangers!
Integrate a little balance in your day
The fear of having a fall is often a showstopper for your activity. You can reduce your fear by adding small balance activities onto other daily activities. For example, while waiting for the kettle to boil, stand on one leg. Sure, you can hold onto the bench. But be daring and let go and build your ‘brave muscle’.
Simple strength training
When you get off your chair, wriggle to the edge then push through your heels and squeeze your butt cheeks together. Try to use these muscles to get off the chair, rather than your arms. Exhale as you get up. If you practice this every time you get up off the chair, it will strengthen your leg and glute (buttock) muscles. This is great for your pelvic floor and for minimising a sore lower back.
Stand half a metre from a wall and place your hands wide. Lower your body toward the wall until your elbows bend to 90 degrees. Exhale to push off the wall. When you feel confident, graduate to a bench. The further you stand away, the harder it will be.
Move your head
The fine hairs inside our ears flatten with age and gravity, especially if our heads stay in the same position for long periods of time. There is a direct link between this and your balance and dizziness. Moving your head to move these fine hairs is called vestibular training. Take every opportunity to roll your head gently and slowly clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Look side to side and get your eyes to move and look further over your shoulder. Nod gently down and lift your head up and back. If you are sitting and watching TV, why not try it every time an ad comes on. It might just make them more interesting!
These are five small ways for you to stay mobile and strong while your usual Strength For Life (formerly Living Longer, Living Stronger) program is on its Christmas break. See you back strong in 2020!