Archives for September 2010

Two Simple Tips for Comfortable Laptop Usage

Woman using laptop computerDid you know that computer-related injuries have been on the rise since people started purchasing more laptops than desktop computers?

Most problems related to laptop usage could be easily avoided by acquiring a height adjustable laptop stand and a separate mouse and keyboard when you first purchase your laptop.

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I recently had first hand experience of laptop problems myself. My old desktop computer broke down at the end of June and I ended up purchasing a sleek new 15.6” HP Pavilion Notebook. I thought my new laptop would be comfortable enough to use if I attached my old keyboard and mouse to it (I hate touch pads because the cursor always goes wild).

I was wrong. Soon after I started using my new laptop, my tension headaches made a comeback. [Read more…]

No Time to Exercise? How to Sneak Exercise into Your Life

Do you feel you should get more exercise but feel so busy you can’t dedicate even 30 minutes for a gym or a walk?

Actually, you can get a good workout even if you have no time to go to a gym or you don’t own exercise equipment. Small things add up, so the idea is to get as much physical activity as possible as part of your daily life.

I created a short list of suggestions on how to sneak exercise to your life. Many of the suggestions are inspired by Dr Bookspan’s fitness articles.

The following activities are especially good for your calves, thighs and butt. They are perfect for office workers who sit at a desk all day. (Thigh and hip muscles are the biggest muscle group in the human body and they consume a lot of calories – if you give them a chance.)

If you have knee problems, consider learning to do the stationary exercises like lunges and squats first.

Take the stairs:

Climbing and descending stairs at every opportunity provides free exercise for your calf, thigh and butt muscles. The catch is that if you want to get more than sore knees out of this exercise, you had better check your technique. Dr Bookspan’s article shows how to climb stairs without knee problems.

Learning to go up and down stairs using Jolie Bookspan’s instructions has been quite a revelation to me. It’s completely different to go down the stairs using your calf muscles to slow down the movement and using the thigh and butt muscles to go up. After one week my legs feel lot stronger than before and my knees aren’t any worse for wear.

I’m lucky to live on the 7th floor, so I’ve had lots of thigh and butt exercise lately. 😀

TIP: Proceed slowly. At the beginning, I practiced climbing stairs very slowly so that I could be sure I’m really using my muscles and not just letting my joints take all the strain.  If you don’t have a chance to climb stairs, find some sturdy piece of furniture you can use instead.

At your desk:

Learn to lunge using Bookspan’s instructions. Have a short break, position yourself beside your desk. You can take support of the desk if necessary, but don’t lean.

Do #n stationary lunges on your left leg, #n on your right leg. No special equipment needed. The #n depends on how strong your muscles are already. Lunges can be quite strenuous to do if you do them correctly.

Use short blocks of time:

Take advantage of short blocks of time and have several 10 minute “workouts” instead.

I’m usually able to sneak 10 minutes of walking or another activity in my day by telling myself it’s only 10 minutes.  Consider having a 10 minute workout in the morning if possible, so you don’t forget it.

Lately, one of my favourite ways to sneak physical activity into my life has been ExerciseTV. They have a large collection of 10 minute (and longer) exercise videos you can download for a few dollars/piece.

Shopping:

Shopping can be a great source of fun physical activity. 🙂 ( For some reason I have to avoid shopping for bras as long as possible, it makes my mood plummet).

You can get some serious exercise when you spend an afternoon in a shopping center. A couple of years ago I decided to wear a pedometer with me when I spent one afternoon shopping for Christmas presents. According to my pedometer, I took 14 000 steps doing Christmas shopping.

Even though it doesn’t fell like exercise, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real exercise. Take your friend, go window shopping and have some fun!

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I’d love to hear YOUR suggestions!

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My Active Lifestyle Review

middle-aged overweight woman in pain while trying to work out

This looks exactly like me!

I have been thinking about my next fitness challenge a lot. It occurred to me that I could start planning the next phase of the journey by establishing my starting point, so I decided to do myself “a physical lifestyle review”.

A Physical Lifestyle Review

I’m 42, female, 5ft 1in, BMI 26-27 (?). I work at a computer all day long rubbing together my two brain cells, either at home or in my office at the university. If I go to my office at the university, I walk the 1 km (0.62 mile) distance from my apartment to the local metro station and the same distance from the metro station to the university (So at best, I walk 4 km / day).

When I get home after work, I spend most of my time reading, doing stuff at my laptop (surfing, writing etc) and watching television. Throw in occasional household chores, grocery shopping, cooking, Feldenkrais lessons and the 3x/week exercise program for my knee.

On the plus side, I don’t smoke or drink or do drugs. I’m eating ok, but I consume too much calories for my lifestyle.

Health wise I’m doing ok, except that I’m prone to tension headaches, other pains and aches in my body and I have a patella femoral pain syndrome in my left knee (getting better). Also, my energy levels are pretty low and I have a low tolerance for stress. I’m not strong and vibrant like I would like to be.

Planning the Next Phase

I hate to admit it, but I’m a passive, sedentary, middle-aged desk jockey. Before my knee problems I at least had some kind of cardiovascular fitness, but I doubt I’m doing that well at the moment. I have no muscle strength and no mental hardiness.

I planned to start doing an online fitness program I purchased last spring (TT aka Turbulence training) and to make it the focus of the next 3 months. There is a big but though:  I doubt I’ll be  able to go full blast with the program from the start because of my knee problems. It’s much more likely that I get injured or burn out.

So I came up with a Plan B, which is to put physical activity back to my moment to moment / day to day life. For the next three months, I intend to focus on becoming physically active in everyday life. I will start doing TT too, but I will take it easy and really listen to my body.

I have been putting together a list of all the ways I can get more physically active in everyday life. That will be the topic of my next post.

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P.S. Have you ever given up on any fitness program because it’s too demanding?

My 101 Days of Summer Challenge – What I Achieved

My original goal for the 101 Days of Summer Challenge was to exercise regularly ~4 times a week and to drop one dress size. (40->38 or 10->8)  I didn’t reach my goal, but on the whole I’m satisfied about how my summer went.

What I am the most happy about is that I actually enjoyed myself during the summer and spent almost no time obsessing about my eating and looks. There was only one brief period when I  agonized over my weight, and that was when I shopped for new clothes. That feeling passed soon though and I’m happy that I didn’t start “dieting”.

Even though I didn’t reach my goals, I have made progress. My waist has slimmed down – my mother even remarked about that when she visited me last week – and the spare tire bulging over my waist band has shrunken visibly. Another victory is that my runner’s knee has finally started to heal. I almost gave up doing my exercise program, because in the beginning I didn’t see any effect besides that my legs and core were getting stronger. The key success was persistence. 🙂 [Read more…]