Getting a good aerobic workout doesn't require running. In fact, it may not even require standing. Using exercise bands, weights and balls, exercise instructor Pam McDonald shows us how to work out while sitting in a chair.
The nine women and two men exercising in Pam's Forever Strong Exercise Class use exercise bands to work their stomachs, lift weights no higher than their shoulders and throw balls back and forth to each other as oldies rock 'n' roll plays.
The seniors get a good workout, exercising their triceps, quadriceps, hips, hamstrings, calves, ankles and more -- all while staying seated.
"God love you for getting out in the heat," McDonald says before the session begins. "You'll be better for it, and you'll thank me later. Might be a lot later, but you will."
The senior citizens can serve as an example for those who beg off exercise because they have a job where they sit a lot.
That's no excuse anymore because, contrary to what people may think, a robust workout may be had while sitting.
"People are amazed. It's a really good workout," McDonald says.
"(Southern Illinois University School of Medicine) has brought some of the doctors, interns, residents in to observe, and so I always make them do the class, and they're always just like, 'Holy cow.'"
Fitness experts say people need to keep moving even if they are busy working at their computers or doing other tasks that keep them in a chair all day.
Exercising can help control high stress levels, "stress" eating, weight gain and even weight loss.
"You might have somebody that's the right weight and they're stressed and they're losing weight and they don't need to be.
They could be losing muscle mass," says Chip Wagner, a personal trainer who co-owns the local company Professional Fitness Coaching with Trae Mullen.
Exercising may help minimize side effects from hereditary diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
"People with osteopenia, osteoporosis, brittle bone disease, any of those natures, if you're not doing excess weight-bearing other than your own body weight, you have less of a chance of getting your bones to be as strong as what they possibly can," Wagner says.
Forever Strong Exercise participants Grace Baliva, 94, Alberta Grigsby, 84, and Barbara Deffley, 81, agree that exercising is beneficial for keeping them "moving."
"I have a balance problem. Walking is difficult ... these kinds of exercises strength the muscles -- even if I don't always know which ones they are," says Deffley, who has had hip replacement surgery.
Grigsby, who has been exercising under McDonald's instruction for 13 years, says she knew she needed exercise.
"I ride an exercise bicycle at home just about the rest of the week, about 10 miles a day," Grigsby says.
Fitness is becoming more realistic, Wagner says.
"Fitness itself is making the transition to what is functional for you, not what the stereotype was years ago, where it's, 'You've got to hit the gym. You've got to do the cardio,'" Wagner says.
"Yes, you still need to do those things -- do not get me wrong -- but people are trying to transition."
Two main things that may work for people who have sedentary jobs are for them to get up and move around during breaks and to equip their workspace with equipment to help their fitness, Wagner says. Make it work for your schedule.
"If you get a chance to go outside on your lunch break, you can walk. You can walk with a partner," Wagner says.
"There's a ton of people who walk downtown Springfield. There's people that walk in Washington Park. There's people that walk in Iles Park. It all depends on what you have access to."
Taking away a desk chair and sitting on a stability ball (also known as a Swiss ball) can increase posture while working on your abdominal or core strength and small stabilizer muscles.
"It doesn't give you that feeling of, 'I'm stuck behind a desk the whole entire time. I'm sitting in a chair.' It kind of breaks up the monotony to it," says Wagner, who adds that it doesn't have to be done daily (check with your employer for permission).
Wagner suggests that people with chronic back problems or stiff backs keep a stability ball in their offices.
"If they have a 3-minute break in between conference calls, they might go over and lean back over the ball and stretch their back out and try to keep it as loose as possible," Wagner says.
The article "How to Exercise While Sitting Down" and McClatchy-Tribune News Service also offer tips on how to get fit while deskbound and/or on breaks:
Keep (and use) a weight at your desk. A small, 5-pound weight may be used for slow biceps curls, 10 on each side, two or three times a day. The weight also may be grasped in one hand with your arm extended in front of you until the arm starts shaking.
Stretch. Stretch out your calves. Stretch your neck by moving it slowly forward and backward and side-to-side. Stretch your back by stretching the arms out wide and leaning back, pulling the arms back.
Roll your wrists.
Contract your stomach muscles. Tighten them, hold them for a few seconds and release. Do this five or more times.
Exercise your knees. Put a rubber ball behind the knee and squeeze it eight to 12 times. Switch knees and repeat.
Do leg lifts using the balls of your feet. Repeat to make the legs feel a little tired.
Take the stairs.
Do triceps dips while coffee reheats. Turn your back to a counter, grasp it with your hands, bend your elbows and slowly dip until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Do squats. Stand at your desk once every few hours, extend your arms and bend the knees, going up and down.
Attend a lunchtime class at a local gym or office fitness facility.
Positive thinking by changing your fitness mindset is important, Wagner says.
"Change your mindset that you should increase or make a healthier lifestyle change," Wagner says. "Even if it's something little as drinking more water or walking for a half hour a day, starting at walking for 10 minutes a day, walking in the mall for 10 minutes. Any little change is going to help because your body's not used to it."
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