Aging Gracefully Blog

Posts Tagged ‘squat’

Can You Tone Up without Exercise?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Salma Hayek recently claimed in People magazine that she stays toned and taut simply by "holding the body in a way that activates muscles all day.” Can you actually tone your belly and other trouble spots without working out or going to the gym? If you have an active lifestyle, can you really skip regular exercise and still be healthy and fit?

It is true that you can stay toned if you’re already somewhat in shape and know how to use your muscles. The key is consciously activating them in your daily activities to flatten the belly and engage the core, stabilize the shoulder blades, contract your glutes to squat and your biceps to lift and carry.  You can achieve a level of toning by contracting your muscles at a low level of intensity. If you’re concerned about maintaining a toned belly, this is something you can do every day. Click here for the free bonus video "The Anytime Move to Flatten Your Belly." You'll also improve your posture, alignment and body mechanics.

Here's how:

  • To engage your core and flatten your belly, "zip up" your abs as if you were zipping up a tight pair of jeans. Pull your navel in toward your spine and then up, lifting the pelvic floor. (Download free video demonstrating the move here). 
  • Stand up straight, rolling the shoulders down and back.  Hold them there by engaging the muscles between the shoulder blades to anchor them and prevent a "forward slouch."
  • Sit without support, using your core muscles to keep your spine tall, ribs stacked over the hips.
  • When you bend and lift, use the large muscles of your legs – the glutes, quads and hamstrings – to squat down, keeping your back straight.
  • When you are leaning forward, practice the "hip hinge," bending forward from the hips and not the waist.  Keep your spine straight instead of rounding the upper back.
  • Get up from any seated position without using your arms for support.
  • When you brush your teeth, stand on one leg for balance and feel the muscles of that leg working to support you, especially in the ankles.  Do both legs or focus on the weaker one.

When it comes to your overall fitness, using these simple techniques can help maintain muscle tone.  Just remember that in terms of health benefits, you are not building muscle strength or bone density, nor are you conditioning your cardiovascular system.  And we all know how important that is. You may be very active during long work days, but if you are not elevating your heart rate and breathing levels it still won’t improve the function of your heart and lungs. Cardio activity aids in reducing your risk of disease and adds energy, stamina and years to your life.  Plus, it burns a lot of calories!

What else can you do if you have little to no time?  At the very least, simple body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and planks will develop muscular fitness. For cardio, try adding 10-15 minutes of fast walking or stair climbing at different points during the day, and you’ll easily accumulate at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

P.S. If you’re looking for more expert advice on the best ways to deal with belly fat and bloating, check out this 2-minute trailer for my brand new video program on how to “Beat Belly Fat, Bloating, Bone Loss and the Blues.”

Order your video today and start beating belly fat now.

This easy-to-follow video of six handy modules is packed with real-life fitness and food tips to help you lose inches, tighten muscles, keep your bones strong, enhance your mood and manage your stress.


10 Top Holiday Fitness Tips

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

The holiday season can wreak havoc with your best intentions to stay in shape. It's easy to get de-railed with parties, slice of pumpkin pie with whipped toppingtravel and general disruption to your normal routines.  Be proactive: Plan your strategy now to maintain your fitness when life gets hectic. Use these 10 TIPS to keep on track for the New Year. 

1)  Make movement a daily habit. The secret of your success is found in your everyday routines. Consistency is the key to building and maintaining momentum. 

2)  Think "activity" instead of "workout." Find opportunities to be active during the course of your day. Walk to work, take the steps, lift and carry your groceries, do housekeeping chores energetically. It all counts!

3)  Accumulate 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most (at least 5) days of the week.  Studies show that exercise accumulated in short bouts of 10 or 15 minutes offers weight loss and aerobic fitness benefits comparable to those achieved in longer workouts. Take 2 or 3 shorter walks every day. 

4)  Simple exercises provide a mini full-body workout, no equipment needed. Do 10 to 15 repetitions of body weight exercises like pushups, squats, and crunches every other day for your muscle work. Too easy? Add another set of each.

5)  Combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting. For every hour you're sitting, get up and move around for five minutes.

6)  Count your steps with your smartphone, pedometer, or other tracking device.  See how many steps you average and then build on them. Try to add 1000 steps per day every week until you hit 10,000 in a day!

7)  Use the small moments of your day to do a few minutes of exercise while you're standing at the kitchen sink, sitting at your desk, relaxing on the couch. Visit the Daily Video Tool Kit  for free video clips of different exercises.

8)  Stand on one leg while brushing your teeth to improve balance.

9)  Do range of motion exercises in the shower. The warm, moist air is perfect for limbering up stiff hands and fingers.

10)  Stretch your muscles at the end of the day to discharge tension and get a better night's sleep. Stretch every day for best results but at minimum 2 or 3 times a week. See the End-of-Day Couch Stretches in the Daily Video Tool Kit.

Get simple strategies to enhance daily life with more energy, a better mood and less stress. Call Joan today:  212-722-8116.

© Copyright – Joan L. Pagano.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Shake Off the Winter Blues: Take Your Workout Out-of-Doors

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Here's a real mood-booster for you! Take your indoor strengthening routine out to the park, breathe in the spring air and get a healthy dose of Vitamin D. It's easy to adapt kitchen sink exercises to a park bench outdoors. Add a portable stretch band to round out your workout. Begin your outdoor workout by walking for 15 minutes at a moderate pace in the park. Find some stairs, inclines and declines to vary the route. Then, scout out your bench. For the first six exercise vignettes, stand behind the bench, using the top of the back for support. Use the following video links as an easy guide. For all of them, do 10-15 repetitions.

Then, to complete the workout, add two more exercises: Squats: Stand in front of the bench, feet parallel, and hip-width apart. Shift your weight back onto your heels, bend your knees and reach back with your hips, lowering yourself toward the bench as if you were going to sit down. Tap the edge of the seat with your hips, but don't sit down. Squeeze your glutes to return to the start position. Crunches: Sit backwards on the bench, threading your legs through the slats of the back rest, feet on the ground. Cross your arms over your chest and sit up tall. Exhale as you roll back, drawing your ribs toward your hips, curving your spine into a "C." Then realign the spine to straighten up. This workout gives you a total of 10 exercises that target the major muscle groups. It will only take about 10-15 minutes to complete one set of 15 reps of each exercise. Peel off the winter layers and prepare to reveal lovely new contours for warm weather. 

Push-Ups, Sit-Ups and Squats: You’ve been doing them incorrectly for decades!

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Push-ups, sit-ups and squats - timeless bodyweight exercises - provide a mini full-body workout that you can do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment needed. But are you making common mistakes in form that can sabotage your efforts?

Join us live on Sirius XM's Dr. Radio Show this Wednesday, February 20 from 8-9 am. I'll share all the insider tips that I've learned over the past 25 years as a fitness professional and answer questions such as:

  • What are the biggest mistakes that people make in performing each exercise?
  • Why is spinal alignment the key to getting the most out of these moves?
  • How can you work these exercises into your lifestyle, no matter what your fitness level?
  • What is the difference between a sit-up and a crunch?

Call in with your questions and comments to 877-NYU-DOCS

Vivacious host Dr. Marina Kurian sets a lively tone in her show and engages her audience with humor and personal insight. I'm always delighted to appear with her! Catch us live this week:

LISTEN LIVE: Dr. Radio Show
DATE: Wednesday, February 20
TIME: 8:00-9:00 am ET
LOCATION: Sirius XM Radio Channel.81
Call in with questions/comments: 877-NYU-DOCS


Web MD Features Two of My Favorite Exercises!

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Are you crunched for time?  Would you like to feel more toned, but don’t have time to hit the gym? Web MD asked my advice for efficient and effective exercises that you can do at home in a few minutes, three times a week.  For the full story on how to sculpt your abs and glutes in just two simple exercises, pick up the September issue of Web MD or click here:

Fitness Tips for a Summer Tune-Up

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Yes, it's hot and humid, a time to slow down and move at a leisurely pace.  But please don't let your body lapse into an activity coma during the lazy days of summer.  Remember Newton's first Law of Motion:  an object in motion will stay in motion; while an object at rest will stay at rest as long as nothing pushes or pulls on it.  Overcoming inertia is difficult!

Your normal exercise routine keeps you at a certain level of conditioning throughout the year.  Summer presents a welcome change of pace and scenery, as well as the opportunity to do some cross training with outdoor activities like tennis and swimming.  But falling off the wagon completely presents the challenge of major damage control in the fall. 

Here are a few of my own "Laws of Motion":

1)         Establish a Minimum Daily Requirement:  It takes a lot of effort to get into shape, but it doesn't take as much to stay in shape.  Brief doses of exercise done consistently over time have a dramatic effect on your health and fitness levels.  You can maintain the benefits of your hard work with a modicum of training and resume full speed in the fall.

2)         Develop a Maintenance Strategy:  For cardio maintenance, squeeze in the recommended minimum of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days of the week.

For muscle maintenance, do the "4 for Life" bodyweight exercises every other day:  2 sets of 15 each of push ups, squats, back extensions and crunches.  And remember to stretch a little every day.

3)         Be an Opportunist:  Find opportunities to move in the course of your day.  One of my clients just finished a summer writing course. Her classes were on several floors of the building and she realized after the fact that she had missed her activity mark by taking the elevator.  She could have offset the hours of sitting in a classroom by using the stairs.

Think of each dose of exercise as a building block of fitness.  See how many 10 or 15-minute doses you can accumulate during the course of the day.  Enjoy your lazy days, but be sure to incorporate some activity to keep your body tuned and toned.