January is the time for setting goals and resolutions for most people, and getting in shape is usually at the top of that list. However, if you are fitnessphobic, the idea of putting on gym clothes can be rather intimidating. Most gyms in Los Angeles are a smorgasbord of hard bodies, which can leave a beginner feeling like chopped liver. Only about 20 percent of the population exercises on a regular basis, so you are not alone if you haven't already started a program.
Surgeon General David Satcher recently came out with a statement regarding exercise and the general public in the "Physical Activity and Health" report. He stated that an accumulated 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week could produce significant health benefits. This is a far cry from the attitude in the '80s, when "no pain, no gain" and "feel the burn" were the fitness mantras. Basically, the message is to get moving, even if it is just doing toe raises while you stand in line at the grocery store -- when no one is watching.
The following are three miniworkouts that I have designed for quick results to make fitness work for you. Each segment takes 10 minutes; you pick the time and place. Ultimately, you should be doing all three segments at least three to five times a week. Remember to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.
Walk ten minutes. (To increase intensity add jumping rope, jumping jacks or running in place.)
Chair squats (sit in chair, stand and repeat) Toe raises (holding back of chair, raise up on toes) Push-ups (bent knee or straight leg position) Crunches (modified sit-ups, lying on floor, knees bent) Start with 10 repetitions of each exercise. Begin with one set until you have worked up to three sets.
Finish with a relaxing stretch and meditation session. Find a quiet spot and sit on a comfortable surface. Concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in deeply, hold for six seconds and exhale deeply. Stretch the upper body and lower body. After stretching, close your eyes for a moment and tune into how your body is feeling.
It takes about three to six months for exercise to become firmly incorporated into your life. Thomas Jefferson knew the importance of daily exercise when he said, "You should spend at least two hours a day on bodily exercise. However, if you should decide not to, you will some day spend two hours a day taking care of your disease." Good luck getting started.