Exercise has become a vital part of my life and weekly routine, keeping me fit physically and mentally. I have not always been as in shape as I am now, going through weight ups and downs since high school. I am the “heaviest” person among my siblings, who all got high metabolisms and are taller than me, so I have to work at keeping weight from being gained.
I used to work at an outdoor education center, where I basically was up and moving all day, hiking, horseback riding, and taking thousands of steps. That also meant I could eat what I wanted, even during my pregnancies. I ate a lot and got away with it, not gaining over 33 lbs. each time being pregnant.
Once I became a full time stay at home mom, I initially tried to keep moving and have a healthy diet, but I snacked with my kids during their frequent little meals when they were younger and then some. I put on a pants size, which crushed me after being fit for years.
I joined the local Y (formerly YMCA) and got myself in a routine that has helped immensely. I go at least three times per week, though occasionally with having a sick child or life happening, it may only be twice. I also am an avid outdoors person and horseback ride frequently. These two factors help me with my workout and keeping that extra size off and away. Here is my routine.
At the Y, I run on the treadmill for 30 minutes three times per week. I have gotten a pace average of doing a 9:40 mile for a 5K run. This burns around 400 calories. If my knees need a break or I need a change of pace, I use the elliptical machine for 30 minutes at a similar pace.
If it is a nice day for a run outside, I’ll take it – around the neighborhood, I’ll go to the local park and do the trail, or I’ll run from the Y and back. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons for outside running. To read an article on how to make running fun and enjoyable, click here.
I have run a handful of 5K races during the past year, even a 10K race. It is a great feeling to complete a race, and then beat your time in the next one. Setting a goal can help you get to a point in your workout routine and give you a challenge.
I ALWAYS stretch after my runs for 5-10 minutes. Since I am not very flexible in the first place, this helps me immensely with my muscles. It also just feels good to stretch and come down after a cardio exercise.
I do crunches after stretching (I’m down on the mat anyway). I do 60 quick crunches, and then do intervals of 3 and 5 crunches, holding on the last count to “surprise” my muscles till it burns. I also use an 8 lb. ball from side to side for a 30 count. Finally I do 30 leg lifts.
I use a 7 or 8 lb. weight to do a variety of arm exercises, doing each side for a count of 20-30 (depending on the day and the weight!).
I know not everyone owns a horse or is initially interested in this activity, but it is a worthwhile form of exercise. There are many barns that offer lessons or trail riding, so it may be something to check out if you want to try something new or different.
This is a wonderful form of exercise, and there are days where no exercise machine that I know of can work the muscles in your body like an hour or two of horseback riding. You use your legs, arms and core especially.
Before the riding comes the catching of the horse, grooming and saddling, which the latter two count post ride and are physical activity. Shoveling manure and cleaning the barn are also part of the exercise involved in horse ownership. Since I board my horse at a nearby barn I ride at least twice per week, more if I can sneak it in, for at least an hour or more. To view a vide of a run on my horse, click here.
If you want to learn something new or get back into horseback riding, it is a wonderful form of exercise. It is also great therapy for backs and legs if those areas have issues. Not only is it physically energizing, but also an emotional uplift and escape from the norm.
Not only are my kids usually running around during the warm, dry weather but I am usually out there with them for a game of baseball, tag, soccer or taking a ride on the swing set (which is really great for your abs). I hope I set a good example for them to be up and moving and enjoying the outdoors, which is physically, mentally, and socially positive.
Having vegetable and flower gardens is good for the mind, body and soul. I don’t mind the physical work that is involved during spring, summer and fall and embrace the fruits of my labor. There have been plenty of evenings after working in the garden where I know I had a good “workout” by the amount I have sweat and the sore muscles.
I hope this article gives you some ideas and/or inspiration for your routine or perhaps to try something new.