Stretch Your Body and Your Fitness Budget

Exercise does not have consume tons of time or money. Like most things, we can make it much more complicated than it has to be. Since we tend to be especially sensitive about money issues this month (at least in the USA) and stressed about time, this is a good opportunity to be gentle on your body and budget while getting a new workout in.

Of course, you can go for a walk. This is one of the best forms of exercise around…and it is cheap—invest in a good pair of shoes and that’s all you really need to start. No need for fancy exercise clothes. You can get just as good a walk in wearing your sweats or jeans (or shorts or skirt….)as you can an expensive track suit! Just dress appropriately for the weather and in layers so as your body warms up you can take off a jacket if you want.

Since spring is here, it is a great time to get out and get some fresh air and enjoy the changing season and the green grass and blooming flowers. If it is cold and rainy where you are, or if you suffer from pollen allergies, then you can walk indoors at a local mall. Often they have early morning hours before the stores open to allow for walkers. Ask your local mall if they provide this service to the community.

It is so important that we stretch our bodies. Especially after a long still winter, or lots of hours sitting at a desk, we need to gently get our bodies moving. One of the tools I use is a fitness ball. “Fitball” is a specific brand, but many people offer these blow up balls. They come in a variety of sizes, usually the diameter as measured in centimeters. You want to get one that fits your body, so read the instructions before you order a ball…but if you are in doubt, order a bigger ball than you think.

I was first introduced to fitness balls when I was having physical therapy for knee problems. The key to finding the right fit is you want to be sure that when you sit on the ball you sit high enough that your thighs are parallel to the ground. You can use a bit larger ball, especially if you like the ball to be a bit softer…just be sure your hips are even with, or higher than your knees…not lower.

Inflating the ball can be part of a workout…it won’t be something you want to do every day, so it does take up some space. However, your fitness ball can serve as a chair. Don’t start off trying to sit in it all day, but sitting on the fit ball uses muscles throughout your core, so you gain strength, improve your posture and burn more calories using it rather than a standard desk chair!
If you are just starting an exercise routine, I suggest watching some videos or reading about exercises you can do with a fitness ball…but one of the best ways to start is simply to sit on the ball and bounce. Sounds easy, but you have to get used to the movement of the ball. Then just start having fun with it! Bounce and kick one leg up at a time. Move your arms. You will be surprised at how you can get your heart rate going with a simple ball!

I also like my ball for stretching…I get a nice gentle stretch through my back by laying on the ball. This takes some practice so you don’t fall off the ball…so big tip is to be sure there are no sharp objects you can hit your head on as you learn to balance on your ball!

You can probably find fitness balls locally, but they are also available online.

One of my favorite online sources for fitness products is Gaiam…and I found the following balls at $19.98,–and when I checked today they were on sale for $14.98! All are billed to handle up to 300 lbs, height guidelines are approximate…when in doubt, go larger…you can always inflate less!

65cm ball for folks 5-6” to 5’11”
75cm ball for folks 6’- 6’-5”

They also have DVDs with lots of different exercises as well as kits with bands, the ball, DVDs and more.

I suggest you start with a simple program such as the Balance Ball for Weight Loss DVD, at $14.98

or for only $20 get the Beginner’s Workout DVD AND the Balance Ball for Weight Loss DVD

These are simple tools that you can use for your weight loss and fitness goals.

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