DeStress Monday: Try Square Breathing

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From our friends at DeStress Monday:

Square Breathing Exercise

It’s no secret that deep breathing exercises are a great way to reduce stress. Taking a few moments to concentrate and breathe deeply calms not just the mind but the body. There are several ways to practice deep breathing but it’s always a good idea to try something new. This Monday, try square breathing when you need to take a moment to settle down.

Square breathing is a great way to refocus your mind if you’ve been having a hectic day. Multitasking and busy schedules can be demanding on your brain and leave you in a fog. It’s important to take a brief break and clear your head before diving back into business as usual. You don’t need a visual aid but it can give you something on which to concentrate while you learn a new way to deep breathe.

Here is the practice:

  1. Inhale for a count of 4
  2. Hold for a count of 4
  3. Exhale for a count of 4
  4. Hold for a count of 4

While breathing and counting, imagine a square. If you’re using a visual aid, follow the four sides of a square. Each step is a corner of the square; as you count to four, move along one side of the square at a time. You can use anything square-shaped around you – a post-it note, a mouse pad, etc. Another way to visualize while square breathing is to imagine you’re running bases in a baseball diamond in slow motion.

Inhale and run to first base… two… three… four…
Hold and run to second base… two… three… four…

To start out, we recommend using GIFs that can provide you with a point of concentration. After a few sessions of square breathing, you’ll be able to visualize the square in your mind while breathing deeply.

This Monday is a great day to be square and destress!

Move It Monday: Eat Healthy for a Better Workout

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From our friends at Move It Monday:

When you’re getting ready for your next workout, remember that you’ll need to fuel up before and after you get moving. The right foods will help you get the most out of any exercise you choose to do and help your body recover when it’s over. This Monday, make sure your grocery list includes nutritious foods that will do your body good!

Even if you stick to low-impact exercise, eating the right kind of nutritious foods will help optimize your workout and get you in shape to come back for more. When it comes to fitness, think carbs! Carbohydrates are the key to fueling your workouts and helping you recover later. As a pre-workout food, reach for fruits and vegetables or whole grains. Save protein for after your workout since it digests more slowly and might slow you down.

One thing to do before, during, and after your workout is hydrate. The best choice is always water! You can also blend your water with fruit juice to give it a boost of natural carbohydrates. It’s always a good idea to stay hydrated, even if you don’t break a sweat.

If you do engage in exercise that is more high-impact, pay closer attention to the foods you eat as well as staying hydrated. Vigorous activity will make you sweat and you’ll have to replace the water you lose. Increase your usual water intake and eat hydrating fruits and vegetables like watermelon, celery, cucumbers, and strawberries. One excellent option post-workout is milk, which not only provides the benefits of hydration but also contains protein to repair your muscles.

Starting a healthy diet and regular exercise this Monday will not only benefit your physical health, they can provide the energy that you need to power through your busiest days!

For more information visit moveitmonday.org.

Move It Monday: Exercise During Your Lunch Hour

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From our friends at Move It Monday:

Do you experience the 3:00 PM slump on weekday afternoons? Try adding a mid-day workout! Using your lunch hour to get some physical activity may have positive effects on the way you work during the day. You don’t even have to break a sweat (unless you want to)! This Monday, start incorporating an exercise routine into your work day to keep your body moving and your mind sharp.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that people of all fitness levels and ages get about 150 minutes of moderate-level activity a week – or 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Many people find it difficult to commit to a routine when they have busy lives, but if you start establishing a daily habit this Monday, it can become a normal part of your life that you won’t give a second thought! Those 30 minutes a day can also happen in smaller increments. Using your lunch break to move around for 10, 15, or 20 minutes can make a noticeable difference in how you feel.

Studies have shown that exercise impacts your cognitive performance by improving concentration, memory, creativity, and the ability to learn new things. Exercise is also a proven stress reducer, which can come in handy if you’ve been having a hectic day. So, what can you do during your lunch hour to get moving? Plenty of things!

One of the best exercises you can do is walking, an easy, cardiovascular activity that will help you clear your mind and work some muscles. Another idea is a simple yoga routine that can be done at your desk or while seated in a chair. Yoga provides another great opportunity to practice mindfulness so you can refresh your mind and body before returning to work. There are also plenty of mini-workouts you can do to wake yourself up, get your blood flowing, and get toned. For the truly dedicated fitness buff, use the time to hit the gym!

If you’re wondering when to eat if you’re using your lunch hour for a workout, eat something light and nutritious  before you get moving then have a healthy lunch when you return. Stick to a schedule and you won’t miss a beat!

Monday is a great day to start a new routine. Adding a workout to your lunch hour is a great way to make the most of your free time and keep yourself moving – and productive!

Move It Monday: Dance With Someone You Love!

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From our friends at Move It Monday:

Looking for some enjoyable activities you can do with your partner to get moving this Monday? Why not get started on the right foot with some dancing!

Dancing is often considered a social activity so its many health benefits can be overlooked.  While certainly entertaining, dancing is also an excellent form of physical activity that offers a broad range of benefits. It’s good for your heart and can improve muscular strength, balance, and flexibility.

But wait, there’s more! Getting fit with a partner can bring unexpected rewards such as quality time with your partner, improve your mood, and make it easier and more enjoyable to commit to fitness.

Ready to dance? Get started today!

  • You don’t need to be an expert – it’s easy to find a class with a good instructor at your local gym, recreation center, or dance studio.
  • There is no equipment necessary, except a good pair of comfortable shoes.
  • Dancing can be for everyone. If you or your partner need special accommodations, seek out adapted special needs classes. Many facilities are committed to providing all-access classes.

Spend quality time on the dance floor with your partner this Monday for a fulfilling and shared fitness experience. Move It Monday is an international campaign encouraging people of all fitness levels to kick off the week with exercise.

Move It Monday: Do a Monday Mile

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From our friends at MoveItMonday:

Walk For Heart Health
February is American Heart Month and we’re highlighting some of the positive impacts physical activity can have on your heart. Being more active can offer many benefits to your health. It can help reduce stress, build muscles, and increase your endurance. It can also boost your heart health! Walking is something many of us do every day, several times a day. When it’s done for more than 30 minutes a day, it can be a great exercise for people at almost any level of fitness. It’s the first Monday of American Heart Month, so find some time to walk today!

Walking Can Be a Perfect Low-Impact Activity
Some people are a bit daunted by the idea of exercise or may not feel like they’re in the condition to take on something physically demanding. But walking can be an ideal low-impact activity for people who are just starting a fitness routine, coming back after a medical recovery or even pursuing something more challenging. Thirty minutes of brisk walking every day can add up to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity you get every week, even if that 30 minutes is broken up into 10- or 15-minute walks.

According to the American Heart Association, a daily walking routine can benefit your cardiovascular system by reducing your risk for several conditions such as heart disease and stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes (as well as osteoporosis and breast and colon cancer). If the physical rewards weren’t enough, walking also burns calories, keeps your muscles strong, and reduces stress. And all you have to do is walk!

Start Monday and Keep Moving
If you can devote 30 minutes to walking a Monday Mile during your day, that’s great! But there are many ways to incorporate more walking into your daily routine that can be done throughout the day. If you have a dog, take him or her for a walk instead of staying in the backyard. If you drive a car, park farther away from your destination and walk the rest of the way. Taking stairs instead of an elevator is another way to squeeze in a few steps; it also provides an added challenge and changes up your terrain. You can even take a walk around your office and hold “walk-and-talk” meetings.

This Monday, get walking for a healthier heart! Seek ways to keep it up all week, and let each Monday be a reminder to stay on track.

Healthy Monday: Try Belly Breathing to Destress

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From our friends at The Monday Campaigns:

Heart racing? Feeling overwhelmed? Use Monday to practice belly breathing as an easy and proven way to reduce stress.

Stress can have a toll on your body and on your heart health. It also impacts your mood and general wellness.

Belly breathing is a simple antidote to stress. It works by activating your body’s natural relaxation response, which helps relieve muscle tension all over your body, as well as lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

Try some belly breathing to quickly get back to calm:

  1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  2. Close your eyes and mouth. Place your awareness on your breath and not on your surroundings.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, making sure your diaphragm, or abdomen, is expanding and not your chest.
  4. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.
  5. Continue in this way for a few breaths, or until you feel calm.

An added benefit is that by focusing your thoughts on the sensations of breathing, or even counting your breaths, you also help settle your mind. The next time you feel your heart race or your stress start to spike, do some belly breathing and feel the needle return to normal.

To calm your body and mind, enjoy these DeStress Monday animated breathing GIFs.

 

Move It Monday: Start Slow and Build Up

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From our friends at Move It Monday:

If you’re using this Monday to begin a new fitness routine, this is a great step toward following a healthy lifestyle! However, before you start moving, make sure you start smart and ease yourself in. This Monday, start your new workout slow so you can avoid injury and get stronger!

When you’re motivated and ready to start a new activity, it’s tempting to want to dive right in – especially if you’re starting something fun! Many people who push themselves beyond their fitness levels may put themselves at risk for injuries. But there’s a smart way to begin a new workout without hurting yourself, and it’ll even make a challenging workout easier to get used to.

First, be prepared for a workout. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable, breathable clothes and sneakers. Have a bottle of water handy to stay hydratedduring your workout; it’s a good idea to be hydrated before and after, too. Once you’ve decided on a workout, set a simple goal for yourself. For example, if you’re walking, aim to walk at a moderate pace for about 10 to 15 minutes to start. If you’re lifting weights, start with lighter weights at first. If you’re hoping to do something more aerobic and high-impact, start with short sets of mini-workouts. Starting slow will not only prevent you from overdoing it, it will help you assess your current fitness level.

You can use every Monday to track your progress and challenge yourself to reach your next level. Spending your first week as a beginner can also serve as a warm-up for your body and get it used to a new activity. Doing low-impact exercises will get your blood flowing and your muscles moving, so you’ll still be doing something great for your health! After that first week, see if you’re ready to move to the next level – then challenge yourself!

This Monday, work out the smart way by starting slow! Every Monday can be the perfect time to either keep going or take your exercise to the next level.

Move It Monday: The Family That Walks Together Talks Together

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From our friends at Move It Monday:

It’s the end of the year, and with the holidays and New Year’s, you’re probably spending more time with your friends and family than you usually do. Maintain a fitness routine during the holidays by rallying your seasonal support system to keep moving this Monday.

study looking at group fitness showed that physical, mental, and emotional quality of life improves when participants exercise together. It could also lead to a significant improvement in mood and well-being.

So, instead of working out solo, grab a friend, or your whole family. Here are some fun group fitness ideas:

  • Take a fitness class together like Zumba or Pilates
  • Walk or jog a Monday Mile
  • Grab some bikes and take a bike ride
  • Do some mini-exercises together
  • Sign-up for a dance class, where partners are part of the fun!
  • Roll out your mats and take a yoga class
  • Organize a game in a court, like basketball or volleyball

This holiday season do some group fitness with your family and friends on Monday to be happy and healthy, together. Happy Holidays from Move It Monday!

Find Move It Monday on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for more great motivational tips and ideas to keep moving.

Move it Monday: This Monday, Ink it in!

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From our friends at Move It Monday

Exercise is vital to a healthy life. But, it can be difficult to make time for it with a busy schedule. This week we share some ideas to fit fitness into your daily routine. Motivate yourself this Monday to make time for a workout – and continue throughout the rest of the week.

Exercise guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, how you break that up is up to you. Carve out a regular standing time with yourself for fitness and make an appointment. The reason? If you have it in your calendar, you’re more likely to be mentally prepared and show up. Entries like “Swimming” and “Monday Mile” should become regular dates to motivate you to get a move on.

  1. Start this Monday and stick to it throughout the week. When you start the week with fitness, research shows it’s easier to stay motivated and inspired the rest of the week. Schedule time to take a class, go swimming, ride a bike, or go for a Monday Mile. Commit to get moving every Monday.
  1. Small steps can lead to big changes. There are a million things to do every day, and sometimes it feels impossible to get it all done. Scheduling in short bursts of physical activity throughout the day can add up to make a big difference.
  1. Schedule a power lunch. If exercising in the morning or after work isn’t always possible, makeover your lunch hour. Schedule a mid-afternoon yoga class or do a mini-workout at your desk. If it’s nice out, plan a Monday Mile, it’s only 2000 steps and takes less than 20 minutes.

This Monday, make the time to fit fitness into your busy schedule and commit to stick with it throughout the week. For more exercise tips and support, follow us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. We’d love to hear from you! Share your Move It Monday fitness successes.

Healthy Monday: Breathe With the Heart

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From our friends at the Monday Campaigns:

Happy Healthy Monday!

In a matter of moments, turn down stress to find calm again by doing some stealth deep breathing. It’s one of the quickest and most reliable ways to slow a racing heart. This Monday, use deep breathing to destress and support your heart.

See our tips for practicing deep breathing on the go.