Exercise is easy when it just happens, such as when you are hiking a glorious mountain trail, walking through the park, dancing, or swimming. More focused traditional exercise, performed indoors, is a little more challenging. Thankfully, the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more you can enjoy the process.
Yoga is great for flexibility, core strength, muscle tone, balance, and improving your overall energy. The exercises can be traced back to India more than 5,000 years ago. With varying beliefs about the origin of the practice, there is no question that yoga is good for the body! The discipline of moving through the series of poses stretches all the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, enhances overall core strength, and as a side benefit, gives you a better night’s sleep.
Pilates is named after its inventor, Joseph Pilates. Mr. Pilates was born in Germany and then moved to Britain. In WWI, he was interned by the British, as an “enemy alien.” His internment was the beginning of the development of the Pilates techniques. He was serving as a nurse and began attaching springs to hospital beds to help his patients restore muscle strength and tone when they were restricted to a bed. The very first version of the reformer was a sliding bed.
When the war came to an end, Mr. Pilates worked with movement pioneers such as Rudolph Laban, known for developing the dance notation used in choreography. The Pilates reformer was born, which he called “the apparatus.” He opened his first studio in America in 1923, which soon became popular with the well-known dancers of the time, including Martha Graham and George Balanchine, followed by hordes of others. Originally, Pilates was called “Contrology.” It builds long, lean muscles rather than bulk – the ideal exercise for dancers – and ideal for anyone who wants strength without bulky muscles.
Another favorite exercise is Barre – a combination of ballet, yoga, and Pilates. A low impact technique, it strengthens the body, increases physical agility, flexibility, and is a muscle endurance style workout. Small motions work to sculpt and strengthen various body areas, including arms, butt, legs, and core. Every Barre studio is slightly different, but you can trust that by the end of the workout, you feel it.
A Long Walk
Walking is an ideal exercise as it gets you out of doors to enjoy the sights of your local neighborhood, a park, along a river path, or wherever you choose. Depending on where you live, at some times of year it could be too hot, too cold, raining, or snowing. When the conditions are right, strolling around the local neighborhood to walk the dog is low impact, doesn’t cost anything, and no equipment required. You can take it to the next level with a power walk, swinging your arms and moving at a faster pace, or walking with wrist and ankle weights. One person who loves a walk is Frankie, my French bulldog.