Sunday, February 21, 2016

Drop and Give Me 20!

Though I do enjoy yoga, and have continued to add short segments into my fitness practice, this past week I have taken the time to focus on more rigorous cardio and muscle building exercises. To be completely honest, this has probably been my favourite stress relief strategy thus far.

I grew up as a competitive dancer and have always enjoyed being physically active. It is also an area I am passionate about in the classroom. I believe that promoting your students to be physically active inside and outside of the school is crucial for both their physical and mental well-being. However, I began to slack on my workout routine as the stresses of school took over this year. My Genius Hour research was a great way to get me back into working out regularly. Below I have listed five reasons why working out is my personal favourite way to reduce stress (so far).

1. It's good for you!
It's a well-known fact that being physically active is good for you. It keeps you in good shape, reduces risks of many diseases and illnesses and also can maintain mental fitness as well. Because it is so good for you and recommended by physicians that you are physically active everyday, it's easy to rationalize fitting it into your schedule.

2. Focus on the body rather than the mind 
I really enjoy exercising because though it is proven to be good for the mind, I focus more on what my body is doing than what my mind is thinking when I do a really good workout. I find that if I push myself hard enough I'm focusing on the pain in my muscles or the motivation to push myself further rather than the stressors of the world around me. Even at the end of a workout in the stretching or meditation portion, I find myself less distracted by external thoughts and more focused on how proud of myself I am for taking the time to workout to the best of my ability.

3. Feeling of productivity 
I love the feeling of being productive - in fact, this is what often deters me from taking time to myself - if I take a half hour to watch my favourite TV show or even to colour, I don't really feel productive afterwards. Participating in intensive exercises creates a sense of productivity because I feel as if I am improving my body. These feelings of productivity are then enhanced when I see physical progress in my own body. This is probably one of the biggest influences when I decide to take time for myself to workout.

4. It can be social 
Working out is a great way to be social with friends, family, significant others or even total strangers. I always enjoy having a friend to workout with, but have also talked to some great people over the years when taking some local classes at the gym. Whether your fancy be going to the gym, going for a run, a workout video at home or a circuit you've designed yourself, it's always great to have some company. For myself, the presence of a workout partner makes the time pass a lot more quickly and pushes me to work harder. It's a great way to see your friends too, especially if you often have to sacrifice your Friday nights or weekends to do homework.

5. There are TONS of free resources 
Working out doesn't require you to buy a gym membership, fancy equipment or even dumbbells, there are hundreds of free resources online right at your finger tips. I've come across many videos as well as written workouts that are really easy to do at home and come in a variety of lengths. I've found a number of resources over the years, often on pinterest or using a simple Google search. Here are a few of my favourites:

Fitness Blender provides free full length workouts with tools to track your progress as well.

Greatist composed a list of the best free workout videos on YouTube (the Jillian Michaels Workout is my personal favourite)

Popsugar has tons of free workout printables like this one: No Equipment Necessary: Full-Body Circuit Workout (I find great Popsugar printables all of the time on Pinterest!)

Two really cool apps I also enjoy are Nike Running Club and 10K for Pink. Nike Running Club is a free app with a variety of different workouts. It's great because you can plug in your headphones and it will guide and time you through every movement.

10K for Pink is an app for beginner runners looking to improve endurance and stamina. You can play it alongside the music on your smart phone and it times you for walking and running and gradually increases the ratio of running to walking as you progress and eventually can run up to 10K!

Are there any websites or apps that you like to include as a part of your workout routine? I'd love to hear about them!

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