Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Cross training: the ONLY way to stay strong, flexible and maintain your heart and lung fitness!

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My Pan Mass Challenge training buddies: Ellen, (not my good side- the front!), Jeff Kaplan, Peter Levin, Gary Belowich, Mike Wolfson

My training buddies:
Ellen, (not my good side- the front!), Jeff Kaplan, Peter Levin, Gary Belowich, Mike Wolfson

When people ask how to stay in the best shape, the answer is never contained within one sentence. It depends on the season, availability and accessibility of the exercise, and probably most important, an activity that you enjoy, or have enjoyed in the past. I’ve worked with many people who say, “I used to be a runner, but now my knees and hips protest when I try to do that.” Or they say that the killer tennis game they used to play has caused tendonitis, rotator cuff problems, etc. It’s important to figure out how to continue to exercise in a healthy and vigorous way in spite of new aches, pains, and acute and/or chronic injuries.
Rule #1: Cross-train, so you don’t put too much stress on the same joints and muscles over and over again.
This means doing a variety of types of exercises throughout the week so muscle groups can recover. Many people find that swimming and biking (’tis the season!) are excellent additions to their exercise program, as both activities can work your cardiovascular system, but put very little stress on your joints. By the same token, it’s important to train with resistance, so your bones can stay strong and avoid the age-related effects of thinning caused by being more sedentary. Your muscles can stay strong by reacting to the “good” stressors that weight training provides for your body, which brings me to…..
Rule #2: Do some type of resistance training consistently. This includes body weight training, where the weight of your body provides enough resistance to keep muscles and bones strong. Example are push-ups and tricep dips. Preferences may include working with dumbbells, machines, medicine balls and resistance tubing. Go to this link to learn why weight training is so important. “>
Rule #3: Make sure your exercise program is not dreadful. If you dread embarking on your program, you won’t stick with it. This may create a negative feedback loop indicating that you can’t stay with an exercise program, when the truth is more likely that you can’t stay with THAT particular program that you hate. Find something that is enjoyable and not too threatening.
Rule #4: Be aware of your own individual preferences for how you like to exercise. I’ve had many people tell me that they had difficulty exercising on a regular basis until they began taking zumba classes, because dancing is fun for them and the social aspect enhances it even more. Others can’t stand the gym, so when they work out with me 1:1, it fits their need for more individualized attention, especially if they have to be careful to move in certain ways to avoid injury.
Rule #5: Keep a log, or exercise with a friend, or be accountable to someone in some way to keep yourself honest. Most of us need some sort of accountability or motivation to make exercise a habit. Just about every hour of exercise I do is with a group, in a class, or with at least one other person, because my preferred way of exercising includes the social aspect. There are many excellent websites that are free or nearly free that can help you stay accountable and keep a fitness log. One of my favorites is “” title=”fitness website”>
Rule #6: In your cross-training routine (now that you’ve established one in the 5 minutes you’ve taken to read this article) include the following for a comprehensive program:
cardiovascular work– walking fast, elliptical, rowing, stationery bike or other cardio machines,swimming, racquet sport or outdoor cycling
strength training – weight machines, free weights (barbells and dumbbells), medicine ball, resistance tubing, therabands
flexibility training– stretching, using a foam roller to decrease knots and muscle spasms
core training – training abdominal and back musculature (pilates exercises train your core)
balance training.
So go out there, find your inner athlete, and 6 months into the new year, make that resolution happen!

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