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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Work out when it's raining

You’re watching the pounding rain and start thinking about that workout that you won’t have to force yourself through. Visions of fried savouries and hot cocoa keep popping up. Watching your weight may not be a priority but getting some exercise will make you feel good about yourself. Dancewithshadows.com takes a rain check.


There is a lot of medical jargon that could explain this inexplicable sense of well-being. You’ve activated endorphins – those feel-good hormones. The gray days begin to have a charm that's all their own. Those deep-fried goodies are delicious in a sinful sort of way. So, how do you fit in working out without the discomfort of stepping out of your home? Here’s how:

1. Invest in a home gym: You don’t need to have a state-of-the-art gym or one that you would rather have guests admire than work out in. Some basic equipment that you plan to use will do. If you enjoy walking, invest in a treadmill. You can gradually increase your pace on the machine as you go along. Your neighbourhood gym may be air-conditioned, but if your personal treadmill is by a window – it’s amazing. You could walk to the rhythm of the falling rain! Even simply stretching and doing sit-ups will make a difference. So pick your space and your mechanical companion.

2. Work around the home: Do all the spring cleaning that you normally reserve for the festival season. You can deal with it one room at a time, but do it thoroughly. Reach for those difficult corners and under that antique dresser. Give the maids the day off. Doing this with your spouse could just turn out to be more fun than you expected!

You could also try minor redecoration while you are at it. Put that table by the window or push the sofa around. All that bending and stretching will be enough exercise. You will also have more time to shop while the others begin their cleaning!

3. Try indoor gardening: If you have a little nook in your home that you nurture with love and care, then try potting different flowering plants. It may seem like a poor cousin to the real thing, but the idea is to move about.

4. Climb stairs: Just walk or run up and down the stairs in your building. If you do ten rounds of this, you have been justified all that food you have binged on.

5. X-treme sport: No, not what you had in mind! Try doing intricate puzzles or crosswords. These are ideal family-time type of games. Your mind does intense workouts -- workout for the brain!

The brain needs all the extra fuel it can get. If you are engrossed in what you are doing, then your fat tissues sustain you even if you haven’t eaten. So bring out those mystifying jigsaw puzzles. Playing chess or a game of bridge is also fine. The beauty of this is that you eventually get to do all of your favourite things simultaneously – eat and play!

6. Learn a new hobby: The thrill of mastering something new is unparalleled. If you take up something strenuous that soothes you, all the better. The very act of learning will keep you occupied with those brain cells furiously burning your calories.

If you take up something like woodworking, sculpting or carpentry, all the better – your body is working without you even realising it. Learning to play an instrument or a piece of music is also rejuvenating.

7. Get down and play: If you have little children, then get down and get dirty with them. Don’t exactly roll in the mud but just playing their kiddie games will keep you on your toes. Believe me, it can get exhausting.

8. Pets for kids: Pets will do just as well to keep you panting. Bathing your puppy will be a chore that you could look forward to.

9. Grab your partner and dance: Just turn on the stereo and let go with abandon. No one’s watching you and you can make a fool of yourself without being laughed at! Dancing can also help keep the blues away. It will encourage you to try stuff that you normally would not give a shot at.

Try all those Beyonce Knowles/Ricky Martin moves and who knows, you might just be able to carry it off! The Workout to the Max series of exercise videos is a recommended mover and shaker.

10. Calorie counter: Weighing machines don’t exactly tell the complete truth. You could have converted all that fat into lean muscle but the needle on the machine may not budge. So don’t get depressed. Continue eating sensibly and enjoy the time spent exercising.

A can-do spirit will see you through the dull rainy days with a refreshing outlook. All that quality time spent indoors will reflect on your health and your family. These might just be a few of your favourite moments. Overall, it is a win-win situation.

Written for First Citizen - Shoppers' Stop magazine for their privileged customers.

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